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Spoof research paper is accepted by 157 journals

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f5975 (Published 04 October 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f5975

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Re: Spoof research paper is accepted by 157 journals

Abstract
We comment on the implications of John Bohannon (News, 4 Oct 2013, pp. 60-65) that a spoof paper was accepted because the 157 journals were open access and charged fees. We argue that the problem reported by John Bohannon concerns authors’ obligation to tell the truth in a scientific paper and editors’ responsibility for quality control, but not whether the journal is open or closed access.

There is no doubt that many open access journals have been published in the last decades 1 2, and many of them have poor quality control. The story of John Bohannon3 4 is interesting, however. He only submitted different versions of this wonder drug paper to open-access journals, but not to a closed journal. Although he appreciated the rigorousness of some open-access journals, the greater implication is that the spoof paper was accepted because each journal was open access and charged fees.

We argue that open access itself is not to blame, and many readers benefit from open access journals every day5. It is the authors’ duty to make sure of the truth of a scientific paper; every scientific paper should be repeatable and bear the test of history. Fake papers will be disclosed sooner or later, and the reputation of authors will be ruined thoroughly.

As editors of journal, it is unpractical to verify the truth of every manuscript, and sometimes the focus of peer-reviewers may be at the innovation and positive results described by authors, and the value for communication. In addition, many open access journals have been published recently, and unlike many famous closed journals with a stable supply of manuscripts, they are understandably likely to be interested in publishing these novel drug data. No one can guarantee that a closed access journal would reject this innovative paper with positive results, and some fake papers ave been retracted by famous journals after published.

We agree that tere is poor of quality control in some new open access journals, but we believe that open access itself is not to blame. We emphasize the authors’ obligation for truth in a scientific paper and journals’ high quality control to preserve the purity of science.

Correspondence: Yong-Long Chi MD E-mail:spinechi@163.com

1. The Rise of Open Access. Science 2013;342(6154):58-59.
2. McLellan F. US bill says government funded work must be open access. The bill also wants to break up and redraw the rules on scientific publishing. Lancet 2003;362(9377):52.
3. Bohannon J. Who's Afraid of Peer Review? Science 2013;342(6154):60-65.
4. Hawkes N. Spoof research paper is accepted by 157 journals. BMJ 2013;347:f5975.
5. Eysenbach G. Citation advantage of open access articles. PLoS Biol 2006;4(5):e157.

Competing interests: No competing interests

19 October 2013
Ai-Min Wu
Orthopedic Surgeon
Yong-Long Chi, Hua-Zi Xu
Second Affiliated Hospital of Wenzhou Medical University
109# XueYuan Xi Road Wenzhou Zhejiang, China