August 16th the daily newspaper Aftenposten published the article “Forskningsbløffen” (the Research Fraud), that tells the story of how a number of scientific journals and research conferences profits on accepting highly doubtful research without any form of quality assurance.
Scientists see the phenomenon as a serious threat to all modern science as it contributes to distribute fake science, and hardens the task of distinguishing between quality assured and non-quality assured research. Aftenposten’s article, which has been a part of the international “Fake Science Project”, has revealed the names of more than 700 researchers with connections to Norwegian educational institutions that have published their work in predatory journals.
Be skeptical towards flattering emails
According to Ellen Hermanrud, Library Director at USN, you should take certain precautions to ensure that you do not become a victim of those who run predatory journals or arrange fake science conferences.
“If offered to publish in a journal, the first thing you should do is to see if Norwegian Center for Research Data and Directory of Open Access Journals have listed the journal as an approved publishing channel. Serious journals are also indexed in reference databases,” Hermanrud says.
If the journal cannot be found on any of these lists, Hermanrud recommends you to visit the journal's home page and look up the following: Does the journal make clear what field of study and type of perspectives it covers?; Does it state who the editor is?; Does it state its contact information?; Does it have a ISSN?; And this and other information be verified?
“When receiving an exceptionaly flattering email, where you are offered to be a speaker, there is good reasons to investigate the sender,” Hermanrud says.
“Have any of your colleagues heard of the conference? Has it been organized before? Has it published any of the conference contributions? You should be skeptical if none of these points checks out positively.”
- Short cuts can ruin a career
Vice Rector Pål Augestad says it would be naïve to believe that none of the 700 academics Aftenposten has seen the names of is or has been working at or with USN.
“For our own sake, we should take it for granted. This can only motivate us to do everything we can to avoid doing such mistakes in the future,” he says.
Augestad tells of a management at USN who urges all employees who publish research and participates at conferences to get familiar with the library’s precaution tips.
“It is important that all of us acknowledge the fact that predatory publicists severely damaged the reputation of both science and research institutions. If you don’t take the necessary precautions, and instead choose to take short cuts that results in you publishing in a fake journal, you also risk ruining your academic career.