Science issues

Science research has been taking a lot of knocks lately, a recent example which would be hilarious if it was not so alarming, being the case of the randomly generated papers accepted by Springer journals.

Here is the original report: Springer and IEEE withdrawing more than 120 nonsense papers

And here is Springer’s response. Retraction Watch is not hard enough on Springer for this pathetic statement. Springer charges a fortune and makes a fortune from its academic publishing empire. It has some obligation to be competent. Publishing any number of randomly generated nonsense papers is incompetent.

My experience of Springer is limited to the following story. I was given proofs of two chapters of a book about to go to press, which I proofread as a favour. These were the just-before-publication proofs, in other words, ready to go, but do you see anything grossly wrong like your name mispelt on the contributors list, that sort of thing. After I finished the chapters in question and made a list of the errors to be fixed – dead set, a list, how is that possible at this stage of the publication process? – I started looking at some of the other chapters. The book as a whole was not in a publishable state, but one chapter in particular caught my eye. It looked like it had been written by a not very literate primary school student. I started making notes on the many corrections that needed to be made to this chapter (can’t help it, compulsive proofer). After showing it to a contributor to the book, he said that it would not be appreciated if I sent my work to the writer concerned, as she was the editor.

So this book went to press in a state which was completely unpublishable. A snip at $149 US as I write.

2 thoughts on “Science issues

  1. I work in an academic library (well an ex-poly) and know that Springer charges some authors to publish too. These are for open access articles, and the charges can be up to £1250, I’ve heard. They also charge other authors for content which is ‘overlong’ or contains colour figures. So, yes, they do have an obligation to be competent.

  2. Yes, the amount academics get charged to get things published is alarming and part of the issue too. ‘Publish or perish’. One can’t help thinking that there are a lot of publishers who are exploiting that extremely unfortunate motto.

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