Critics Say Sting On Open-Access Journals Misses Larger Point

Paul Basken | The Chronicle of Higher Education | October 4, 2013

Perhaps months from now, when the dust settles and academics really look back at it, they’ll find some hard lessons in the elaborate Science magazine exposé this week by the journalist John Bohannon.

After more than a year of work, in which Mr. Bohannon, who has a Ph.D. in biology, crafted a fraudulent cancer-research article and painstakingly tracked the responses to it from more than 300 journals, he gave his industry the embarrassing news that 157 of them had agreed to publish it.

“The data from this sting operation reveal the contours of an emerging Wild West in academic publishing,” Mr. Bohannon wrote in Friday’s issue of Science.

For now, however, allegations of flaws—at least in the way the magazine promoted the piece, if not how the study was constructed from the start—are commanding the bulk of the attention.