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The Problem of Open Access Journals

Technology has disrupted the world of academia; the Internet has revolutionized the traditional process of research. Today, students and scholars have access to more information than ever before and must learn the skills for navigating an academic cyberspace. While research used to be primarily conducted and published through high quality publications, the Internet has changed the quality of work students and scholars are exposed to.

It is no secret that you can’t trust everything you read on the Internet; however, many academic publications have arisen that publish low quality content. These publications do a very good job of disguising their low quality publications as good content. While good in theory, open-access journals are extremely problematic and academics should be weary of using them as their primary sources. In today’s landscape, it is extremely important to support quality publications such as Bentham Science.

What are Open Access Journals?

Open access journals provide open access to the public for no charge. Traditionally, academic journals have charged subscription fees for monthly access; however, open access journals reach more people by not charging their following. In theory, this seems positive because it expands the access of research, knowledge, and education to the general public; however, a closer look reveals the problematic nature of these publications.

Open access journals are able to provide free access for their readers because they charge a high fee for publication. These journals arose as a response to an increased pressure in the academic world for professors and researchers to “publish or perish.” Many universities put a lot of pressure on their staff to publish works of significance every couple of years; however, traditionally publication has been a difficult feat. Open-access journals saw an opportunity to provide publication at a cost to meet a growing academic demand. The primary problem with these journals is that they often have low standards for publication; therefore, the work that has the most visibility on the Internet is of the lowest content.

Peer-review Is not a Telltale Sign of Quality

From the beginning of your education, the importance of peer-review has most likely been drilled into your brain. Peer-review has remained  the gold standard for quality work- a telltale sign of quality content. Unfortunately, in today’s landscape this no longer holds true. Many open-access journals claim to publish work that has been peer-reviewed; however, much of the work published in these journals does not undergo a thorough peer-review process.

The point of peer-review is to preview a piece of work and scan for errors or invalid claims before publication. Many open-access journals conduct a peer-review process post publication; work is “reviewed” after it has already been published in the journal. Additionally, much of the work that is peer-reviewed is not reviewed by qualified thinkers and scholars in the field that the work is being published.

Research the Journals You Use For Reference

Today more than ever it is extremely important to research the journals you use and reference. It is important that students and scholars take steps to educate themselves on how to distinguish a high quality publication from one of low quality. Supporting publications that produce good content, such as Bentham Science publishers is a great way to shape the academic environment in a positive direction.

Academia continues to evolve; the Internet has come with a mixed bag of effects for the academic world. While there is more information available, this increased access requires academics to take on a greater responsibility in sifting through their sources. Students and scholars must equip themselves with the tools necessary to source work from high quality publications. Supporting quality publications is a great way to move the world of research in a positive direction.

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