John Buhannon, visiting journalist at Harvard and contributing correspondent for Science, conducted a fascinating "sting" operation by submitting a bogus scientific manuscript describing fictional cancer-related research to hundreds of open access journals. The results were both disturbing and enlightening: more than 150 journals accepted his manuscript for publication, despite significant errors in methodology and data representation that any scientist knowledgable in the field would have spotted within minutes. Buhannon summarized his findings in an interview with Renee Montagne of NPR this morning. The implications for lack of peer review are obvious, as is Buhannon's appreciation for open access journals that rejected his manuscript, thanks to effective reviewers and editors at those publications. Now to help students understand and appreciate that piece of the scholarly communication process, and able to determine the extent of peer review backing any article published online.
Listen to Morning Edition. Read the paper at Science (an open access article - thanks, Science!).