A fine example of the pitfalls of the “author-pays” scheme for the open access publishing of academic papers is revealed by The Scholarly Kitchen – the Society for Scholarly Publishing’s blog.
Philip Davis, a graduate student at Cornell University in the US, decided to investigate how rigorously academic articles submitted to journals owned by the Bentham Science Publishers, which uses the author-pays model, are peer reviewed.
On the blog, Davis describes how he submitted two nonsense papers created by a computer programme designed to generate random computer science papers. With the help of his colleague, Davis submitted the papers under a pseudonym and affiliated himself with a fictitious institution, to The Open Information Science Journal. One of the nonsense articles was accepted for publication in the journal after it had gone through a “peer reviewing process”, the publisher’s assistant manager of publication, told Davis in a letter.
All Davis had to do was pay US$800.
“From this one case, we cannot conclude that Bentham Science journals practice no peer review, only that it is inconsistently applied,” Davis writes on the blog. He says he has previously written about a case where a different nonsensical article was rejected by another journal owned by Bentham Science Publishers after it went through peer review.
But, he says, the evidence he has uncovered questions whether the author-pays model may “unduly influence editorial decision-making”.