Friday, October 4, 2013

Cartoon wisdom that continues to dog us online

The cartoon above appeared twenty years ago.  According to Inside Higher Ed today, it still has much merit:

...Ocorrafoo Cobange, a biologist at the Wassee Institute of Medicine in Asmara, recently had an article about the medical properties of a chemical extracted from a lichen accepted for publication -- by more than half of the 304 open-access journals he submitted it to. Of course, Cobange is not real, and neither is the Wassee Institute. They are both inventions of John Bohannon, the Harvard University biologist and writer who documented the study in this week’s edition of Science. “Acceptance was the norm, not the exception,” Bohannon wrote. Not only did the Journal of Natural Pharmaceuticals see the article fit for publication, but so did journals “hosted by industry titans ... prestigious academic institutions ... [and] journals for which the paper’s topic was utterly inappropriate.”

The culprit -- a lack of a rigorous peer review process. Bohannon estimates 60 percent of the accepted submissions showed “no sign of peer review,” and that even among the journals that reviewed the article, 70 percent accepted it anyway...

Indeed, even when you think it IS a dog, it may not be:

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