2009 reflection on the 2013 Bohannon sting.

In June 2009, Phil Davis and Kent Anderson got a piece of computer-generated nonsense accepted at a fee-based OA journal published by Bentham <http://goo.gl/OyngR>. I blogged about the incident at the time <http://goo.gl/92aR3> and revisited it a few months later <http://goo.gl/ffTYmO> in a keynote address at the first meeting of Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA). Here are some thoughts from that address that apply to the larger and more recent Bohannon sting: 

"The incident hurt OA journals in one respect and helped in another. It hurt by feeding hasty generalizations about OA journals and the business model of charging author-side publication fees, though Davis and Anderson themselves did not draw these hasty generalizations....The hoax made all OA journals look bad. You might quarrel with the word 'all'. Not all OA journals charge publication fees. Not all OA journals that do charge fees take the money and fail to deliver honest peer review, or even a cursory human glance. True and true. The actual number of journals like TOISCIJ [The Open Information Science Journal, the journal exposed by Davis and Anderson] is very small. But most people who hear about the Davis/Anderson hoax don't understand the distinctions among OA journals, just as most people who heard about the 1996 Sokal hoax didn't understand the distinctions among cultural studies journals or even among humanities journals. Jumping to the conclusion that the problem lies with OA as such or publication fees as such is not justified and not fair. But that's the challenge [for supporters of OA]. By contrast, TA journal scams -- like the nine fake journals published by Elsevier <http://goo.gl/OvVjy> -- seldom trigger generalizations about the faults of TA journals as such. From long familiarity, most academics have learned to discriminate among TA journals. But most are still learning to discriminate among OA journals....On the other side, the Davis/Anderson hoax helped OA journals by drawing humiliating attention to embarrassing behavior. It should deter similar behavior....[O]ther journals dishonest or incompetent in the same way will have to worry that they could be next. We can't know how widely the deterrent effect will operate or for how long.  It won't drive all dishonest journals from the field, even if we wish it would.  But it does help."

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