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Inspired by a post on this blog about the dangers of predatory publishing and open peer review as a potential response, Maximilian Heimstädt and I decided to dig deeper into the issue. Specifically, we were able to get access to some data on (potentially) predatory journals in organization and management studies. Based upon the analysis of this data we discuss the potentials of open peer review for our own discipline. The abstract reads as follows:

Predatory journals have emerged as an unintended consequence of the Open Access paradigm. Predatory journals only supposedly or very superficially conduct peer review and accept manuscripts within days to skim off publication fees. In this provocation piece, we first explain how predatory journals exploit deficiencies of the traditional peer review process in times of Open Access publishing. We then explain two ways in which predatory journals may harm the management discipline: as an infrastructure for the dissemination of pseudo-science and as a vehicle to portray management research as pseudo-scientific. Analyzing data from a journal blacklist, we show that without the ability to validate their claims to conduct peer review, most of the 639 predatory management journals are quite difficult to demarcate from serious journals. To address this problem, we propose open peer review as a new governance mechanism for management journals. By making parts of their peer review process more transparent and inclusive, reputable journals can differentiate themselves from predatory journals and additionally contribute to a more developmental reviewing culture. Eventually, we discuss ways in which editors, reviewers, and authors can advocate reform of peer review.

The article has been published in the journal Management Learning and is available as an open access full text.

Digitalization reduces technological and financial barriers to scientific publishing. Science can thus become faster, more inclusive and more plural. At the same time, the growing acceptance of specific forms of Open Access has also led to the rise of author-pays business models based on Article Processing Charges (APCs). The increasing publication pressure in the scientific system in combination with APCs provides incentives for creating “predatory” journals that only supposedly or very superficially conduct peer review in order to maximize their profits from such APCs. These manuscripts are at best inadequate and at worst deliberately tendentious and misleading.

How to stop predatory publishers? (Credit: SarahRichterArt, CC0)

Recently, an investigative report by the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung and public broadcasters WDR and NDR has revealed that even researchers from reputable academic institutions publish in or represent publishers of dubious quality. In their attempt to reveal “Fake Science” (using the English term in their German reportings), journalists easily accomplished the publication of a non-sensical article in an allegedly peer reviewed journal charging APCs. What they also show is how these unscientific practices not just harm the reputation of legitimate open access journals but are also a potential source – and allegedly scientific proof – for fake news more generally.

This blogpost discusses how reputable (Open Access) journals can defend their credibility against somewhat or even completely dubious Open Access journals. In our opinion, the most sustainable response, which however would only be possible in the mid to long-term, would be to abandon author-pays business models altogether and switch to publication infrastructures financed by universities and institutions (for an example of such an approach, check out the Open Library of Humanities). In the short-term, however, certain open-peer review practices might also be helpful to address the problem of predatory open access journals. Read the rest of this entry »

The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
March 2021

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