Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Just Skip that Step

An increasing number of scientific journals say they conduct peer review of manuscripts they receive, but do not actually do so, the Economist reports.

Jeffrey Beall, formerly a research librarian at the University of Colorado Denver, used to keep a list of predatory journals — ones that would invite researchers to publish in them, have them pay high fees, and not conduct peer review of its articles. Before he stopped upkeep of the list in early 2017, it had thousands of entries. The Economist notes that another list by the analytic firm Cabells has 8,700 entries and that the Hanken School of Economics' Bo-Christer Bjork estimates that 400,000 articles have appeared in such journals.

The Economist adds that while this issue has been around for years, it appears to have gotten worse. It suggests that recently policies in the US and Canada aimed at getting taxpayer-funded researchers to publish in open-access journals may have exacerbated the problem.

There are, it says, a few possible solutions, including eliminating anonymous peer review for publishing papers to servers where the public can vet them or returning to journal subscriptions.