Here’s how bad science infiltrates the international scientific debate: It’s not just the big scandals, more than 50,000 questionable articles are added each year
160,000 articles. That is what more than 300 “predatory” magazines have managed to sneak into Scopus, one of the most widely used bibliographic databases in the world, in the last three years. That is to say, each year, more than 50,000 acts of scientific fraud are committed and they are committed so successfully that they pass through the filters of a giant like Scopus.
Because “predatory magazines” is nothing more than the fancy name of Jeffrey Beall, the famous librarian and professor at the University of Colorado who created the Lista Beall, found what is one of the most questionable academic practices of recent years: a lot of companies bent on passing off as relevant knowledge what is nothing but shoddy science. If you can call that science, of course.
The Little Scandals of Science: Predatory Version
What these magazines do is actively search for authors to ask them for articles that they will publish (charging a lot of money, by the way) without meeting the minimum quality standards. During these months of pandemic we have talked at length about the importance of peer reviews, the caution with which to interpret the preprints and the risk of doing science with press releases; as well, Predatory magazines laugh in the face of it all.
As I said in Nature, Anna Severin, a sociologist studying peer review at the University of Bern, “there are potentially serious consequences of predatory articles being indexed in scientific databases“.” Researchers often use poor quality (or even fabricated) findings in their research and cite them in their own publications, thus distributing more unreliable science. “
Hence the analysis of these two Czech researchers, Vít Macháček and Martin Srholec, who has found at least 324 magazines from the Beall list in Scopus is especially striking. As striking is that they contribute 2.8% of all articles indexed during that time. That is to say, Despite the efforts of the bibliographic databases, these journals find a way to sneak into international scientific debate.
Evidently, it’s not the only way bad science creeps into that debate. We have repeatedly seen during the coronavirus crisis as magazines of the highest order They published things that we could only qualify as sophisticated liess. Much remains to be done and at all levels: this type of work makes it clear.
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