Does Scholarly Open-Access Publishing Increase Author Misconduct?

Stop

Stop author misconduct in scholarly communication.

I believe that open-access publishing enables, facilitates, and increases the rate and occurrence of author misconduct. I base this conclusion on my observation of predatory journals over the past several years.

In fact, it is pretty easy to detect author misconduct in the journals on my list. Author misconduct includes plagiarism, self-plagiarism and duplicate publication, image and data manipulation, honorary authorship, ghost authorship, and salami slicing, the breaking up of research into “least publishable units.”

I also think that authors are more blatant in their misconduct, not caring whether their misconduct eventually gets discovered, preferring only to get the academic credit for their work when it’s published.

So, here is an example of 100% plagiarism. The first article below was written in 2010. The second article was recently published (in 2013). Except for one word in the title, the text of the second paper appears identical to the first.

2010 paper [PDF]

2013 paper [PDF]

Mohammed, S. Sheik, Ramasamy, K., & Shanmuganantham, T. (2010). Wireless power transmission: A next generation power transmission system. International Journal of Computer Applications, 1(13):100-103.

Reddy, M.Venkateswara, Hemanth, K. Sai, & Mohan, C.H. Venkat. (2013). Microwave power transmission: A next generation power transmission system. IOSR Journal of Electrical and Electronics Engineering 4(5): 24-28.

There is also a third paper, published in 2012, that contains unattributed text from the 2010 paper. Here it is, also with a similar title:

Mehdipour, Amin, Kia, Abouzar shahraki, & Yazdanipour, Marzieh. (2012). Investigating the different wireless power transmission systems. International Journal of Advancements in Electronics and Electrical Engineering 1(2): 28-32.

There may be additional articles that copy some or all of the original text (if that is really the original text). Complete-article plagiarism, carried out at an increasing rate, harms the integrity of the scholarly record, clutters database search results with duplicate hits, and hurts honest researchers whose papers appear alongside the copied works.

As predatory journals occupy an increasing share of the scholarly journal market, author misconduct will continue to increase. I hope that academic authors realize the extent to which author misconduct stains science communication and that they challenge it wherever they encounter it.

Image Octagon-warning  by Prodego and published under the Creative Commons  Attribution 3.0 unported license. 

18 Responses to Does Scholarly Open-Access Publishing Increase Author Misconduct?

  1. Samir hachani says:

    I cannot agree more with Dr. Beall. If open access is a boon forthose who want to do research , it could (and in fact is) used by bogus reserachers and editors to plagiarize and get credit for what they have no relation.We should all as scholars ( regardless of our level) condemn in the strongest terms these “vampires ” and expose for what they are : plain criminals .I work on open acess and peer review and these “researchers ” hate the openeness that Internet allow.

  2. Isn’t it probable that open access publishing allows an increased detection of misconduct? If the three papers were published in obscure subscription-based journals, what are the chances that you or anyone would have compared the texts?

  3. Nils says:

    Author misconduct is the logical consequence of poor or nonexistent peer review. One can observe a similar negative selection effect on the viXra repository, an alternative to arXiv without endorsement procedure. What may appear like a good idea mainly results in attracting papers of poor quality.

  4. D. Rordorf says:

    Open access publishing adds transparency to the published literature: it does in fact increases the rate of *detection* of author misconduct. That has been noted already several years ago, e.g.

    Lin, S.-K.; McPhee, D.J. Citation of Two Retracted Papers Shows Both the Impact Advantage and an Unintended Consequence of Open Access. Molecules 2007, 12, 2190-2192. http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/12092190

  5. Shawn says:

    Yes and no… For example, the 2 groups of authors:

    1) Scholars that publish questionable material
    2) Low level scholars that would otherwise be difficult to publish

    Scholars that engage in unethical practices would have done so in OA or subscription based model. I believe the % of scholars in this group is roughly the same.

    However, there is definitely far more low level scholars that are willing to pay to publish. It seems like there is more misconduct, but that’s because there are more of these types of authors able to take advantage of the OA model.

    OA does allow for post-publishing examination, and that is a good thing, but only a tiny fraction is ever looked at nevertheless examined. While it is possible to detect plagiarism, the equal if not greater sin of research fraud/data manipulation is far more difficult to detect without close examination. What % of misconduct is at the research level is anyone’s guess.

  6. jimgthornton says:

    Of course you’re right Dr Beal. It’s a no brainer. Most OA follows an author pays model. The old name for author pays was vanity publishing.

    • dsolomonmsuedu says:

      Actually most OA journals do not use an author pay model. There is no complete list of all OA journals but the most comprehensive list is the DOAJ. I just downloaded the complete metadata and only 28% charge author fees. You can check it yourself @ http://www.doaj.org/doaj?func=csv

      • dzetland says:

        That’s strange. How do they stay in business? Unless they are really just “blogs” where anyone can “publish” anything without any editorial/editing/layout.

        OTOH, I think that submission fees will reduce duplicate publication, since it’s more expensive to say the same thing twice.

        Finally, I wonder why authors self-duplicate. Are tenure and advancement committees so lazy that they do not even look at the papers submitted for promotion? There’s an iceberg of issues here…

      • Nils says:

        @dzetland:
        There do exist serious OA journals. They use a serious peer review procedure, and as opposed to predatory OA publishers, they often operate on a non-profit basis. They can survive because they are supported by institutions such as e.g. the IMS, see http://imstat.org/en/index.html

        As for hiring or tenure committees, my experience is that duplicate publication is noted and does make a very negative impression. But I don’t know how representative these experiences are.

  7. Agree with Geoffrey Beal. However, given the seriousness of the statements, I think that adding quantification will greatly add to the discussion. For instance, are self plagiarism more frequent in predatory journals than in non-predatory ones with comparable impact factors and equal access (or suscription price).
    Variable: Frequency of plagiarism/Nr. publications in a given time.
    Comparable groups: Same impact factor, same open-access policy, same charge per publication, same number of journals (if it is an editorial group, licke Omics).

    This would greatly illustrate this discussion.

  8. Rafael Hernandez says:

    It strikes me to see that “salami slicing “is misconduct, perhaps you are refering to remix (mixing several publications to obtain more publisable units). I understand “salami slicing” as just dividing the reserach into publishable units, what’s wrong with this? Thanks.

    • “In academia, salami slicing refers to the practice of creating several short publications out of material that could have, perhaps more validly, been published as a single article in a journal or review. (See also least publishable unit).”

      • Alex H says:

        In several cases, the salami is not sliced but made from slices. Data and results presented in a full 8.000 word article are accumulating during a year or even more. I do not think that publishing partial or preliminary results in the form of short articles is misconduct. It is a must as long as my department expect me to publish at least X papers/academic year. However, the publication list of such scholars are virtually indiscernable from those who regularly apply the technique of “salami slicing”.

      • Hachani says:

        Those who doubt “salami slicing ” should read
        Broad and Wade Betrayers of the Truth: Fraud and Deceit in the Halls of Science.It says a lot about academic misconduct and salami slicing seems as a mere fault ……

  9. [...] on Scholarly Open Access dr Jeffrey Beall published a post on authors’ misconduct in OA stating that in his view “open-access publishing enables, [...]

  10. [...] ¿Las publicaciones en Open Acces hacen aumentar la mala praxis de los autores? [...]

  11. [...] At any rate, the need for academics to get published, together with the low cost of “publishing” on-line, has brought a cornucopia of entrepreneurial “publishers” who make money by creating “journals” where authors pay to have their articles published. The payments are not described as costs of self-advertising, of course, but as costs of administrative expenses and the like. Librarian Jeffrey Beall  lists publishers and journals that seem to be blatantly dishonest, for example in claiming to use peer review while not doing so, or by not even publishing actual journals, only citations (e.g. “The suspicious case of Science Record journals”; “The epitome of predatory publishers”). The lack of any serious editorial or peer review means that authors can publish the same thing over and over again, and that plagiarists can re-publish others’ work freely (“Does scholarly open-access publishing increase author misconduct?”). [...]

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