Clear Language, Clear Mind

October 15, 2014

Jeffrey Beall’s anti-open access tirade

Filed under: Metascience — Tags: — Emil O. W. Kirkegaard @ 21:02

I came across this one. On the one hand it seems written in a serious tone. On the other hand, the claims are so ridiculous that it is hard to believe it is sincere. Some quotes below.

Abstract: While the open-access (OA) movement purports to be about making scholarly content open-access, its true motives are much different. The OA movement is an anti-corporatist movement that wants to deny the freedom of the press to companies it disagrees with. The movement is also actively imposing onerous mandates on researchers, mandates that restrict individual freedom. To boost the open-access movement, its leaders sacrifice the academic futures of young scholars and those from developing countries, pressuring them to publish in lower-quality open-access journals. The open-access movement has fostered the creation of numerous predatory publishers and standalone journals, increasing the amount of research misconduct in scholarly publications and the amount of pseudo-science that is published as if it were authentic science.

The open-access movement is really about anti-corporatism. OA advocates want to make collective everything and eliminate private business, except for small businesses owned by the disadvantaged.

Similarly, a movement that tries to force out an existing technology and replace it with a purportedly better one also never succeeds. [now who can think of just a single counter-example to this bizarre claim?]

The open-access movement was born of political correctness, the dogma that unites and drives higher education. The open-access advocates have cleverly used and exploited political correctness in the academy to work towards achieving their goals and towards manipulating their colleagues into becoming open-access advocates. One of the ways they’ve achieved this is through the enactment of open-access mandates.

I’ll stop here… You can download it and read the rest if you desire more of the same.

September 29, 2014

Predatory journals

Filed under: Education,Science,Science,Science — Tags: , , , , , , — Emil O. W. Kirkegaard @ 17:48

I had my first Twitter controversy. So:

I pointed out in the reply to this, that they don’t actually charge that much normally. The comparison is here. The prices are around 500-3000 USD, with an average (eyeballed) around 2500 USD.

Now, this is just a factual error, so not so bad. However…

If anyone is wondering why he is so emotional, he gave the answer himself:

A very brief history of journals and science

  • Science starts out involving few individuals.
  • They need a way to communicate ideas.
  • They set up journals to distribute the ideas on paper.
  • Printing costs money, so they cost money to buy.
  • Due to limitations of paper space, there needs to be some selection in what gets printed, which falls on the editor. Fast forward to perhaps 1950’s, now there are too many papers for the editors to handle, and so they delegate the job of deciding what to accept to other academics (reviewers). In the system, academics write papers, they edit them, and review them. All for free.
  • Fast forward to perhaps 1990 and what happens is that big business takes over the running of the journals so academics can focus on science. As it does, the prices rise becus of monetary interests.
  • Academics are reluctant to give up publishing in and buying journals becus their reputation system is built on publishing in said journals. I.e. the system is inherently conservatively biased (Status quo bias). It is perfect for business to make money from.
  • Now along comes the internet which means that publishing does not need to rely on paper. This means that marginal printing cost is very close to 0. Yet the journals keep demanding high prices becus academia is reliant on them becus they are the source of the reputation system.
  • There is a growing movement in academia that this is a bad situation for science, and that publications shud be openly available (open access movement). New OA journals are set up. However, since they are also either for-profit or crypto for-profit, in order to make money they charge outrageous amounts of money (say, anything above 100 USD) to publish some text+figures on a website. Academics still provide nearly all the work for free, yet they have to pay enormous amounts of money to publish, while the publisher provides a mere website (and perhaps some copyediting etc.).

Who thinks that is a good solution? It is clearly a smart business move. For instance, popular OA metajournal Frontiers are owned by Nature Publishing Group. This company thus very neatly both makes money off their legacy journals and the new challenger journals.

The solution is to set up journals run by academics again now that the internet makes this rather easy and cheap. The profit motive is bad for science and just results in even worse journals.

As for my claim, I stand by it. Altho in retrospect, the more correct term is parasitic. Publishers are a middleman exploiting the the fact that academia relies on established journals for reputation.

Review: The Digital Scholar: How Technology is Transforming Academic Practice (Martin Weller)

Filed under: Education,Science — Tags: , , , — Emil O. W. Kirkegaard @ 17:16

Someone posted a nice collection of books dealing with the on-going revolution in science:

So i decided to read some of them. Ironically, many of them are not available for free (contrary to the general idea of openness in them).

The book is short at 200 pages, with 14 chapters covering most aspects of changing educational system. It is at times long-winded. It shud probably have been 20-50 pages shorter. However, it seems fine as a general introduction to the area. The author shud have used more grafs, figures etc. to make points. There are plenty of good figures for these things (e.g. journal revenue increases).

September 14, 2014

Costs and benefits of publishing in legacy journals vs. new journals

Filed under: Copyright and filesharing,Psychology,Science — Tags: , , , — Emil O. W. Kirkegaard @ 23:34

I recently published a paper in Open Differential Psychology. After it was published, I decided to tell some colleagues about it so that they would not miss it because it is not published in any of the two primary journals in the field: Intell or PAID (Intelligence, Personal and Individual Differences). My email is this:

Dear colleagues,

I wish to inform you about my paper which has just been published in Open Differential Psychology.

Many studies have examined the correlations between national IQs and various country-level indexes of well-being. The analyses have been unsystematic and not gathered in one single analysis or dataset. In this paper I gather a large sample of country-level indexes and show that there is a strong general socioeconomic factor (S factor) which is highly correlated (.86-.87) with national cognitive ability using either Lynn and Vanhanen’s dataset or Altinok’s. Furthermore, the method of correlated vectors shows that the correlations between variable loadings on the S factor and cognitive measurements are .99 in both datasets using both cognitive measurements, indicating that it is the S factor that drives the relationship with national cognitive measurements, not the remaining variance.

You can read the full paper at the journal website:


One researcher responded with:

Dear Emil,
Thanks for your paper.
Why not publishing in standard well established well recognized journals listed in Scopus and Web of Science benefiting from review and
increasing your reputation after publishing there?
Go this way!

This concerns the decision of choosing where to publish. I discussed this in a blog post back in March before setting up OpenPsych. To be very short, the benefits of publishing in legacy journals is 1) recognition, 2) indexing in proprietary indexes (SCOPUS, WoS, etc.), 3) perhaps better peer review, 4) perhaps fancier appearance of the final paper. The first is very important if one is an up-and-coming researcher (like me) because one will need recognition from university people to get hired.

I nevertheless decided NOT to publish (much) in legacy journals. In fact, the reason I got into publishing studies so late is that I dislike the legacy journals in this field (and most other fields). Why dislike legacy journals? I made an overview here, but to sum it up: 1) Either not open access or extremely pricey, 2) no data sharing, 3) in-transparent peer review system, 4) very slow peer review (~200 days on average in case of Intell and PAID), 5) you’re supporting companies that add little value to science and charge insane amounts of money for it (for Elsevier, see e.g. Wikipedia, TechDirt has a large number of posts concerning that company alone).

As a person who strongly believes in open science (data, code, review, access), there is no way I can defend a decision to publish in Elsevier journals. Their practices are clearly antithetical to science. I also signed The Cost of Knowledge petition not to publish or review for them. Elsevier has a strong economic interest in keeping up their practices and I’m sure they will. The only way to change science for the better is to publish in other journals.

Non-Elsevier journals

Aside from Elsevier journals, one could publish in PLoS or Frontiers journals. They are open access, right? Yes, and that’s a good improvement. They however are also predatory because they charge exorbitant fees to publish: 1600 € (Frontiers), 1350 US$ (PLoS). One might as well publish in Elsevier as open access for which they charge 1800 US$.

So are there any open access journals without publication fees in this field? There is only one as far as I know, the newly established Journal of Intelligence. However, the journal site states that the lack of a publication fee is a temporary state of affairs, so there seems to be no reason to help them get established by publishing in their journal. After realizing this, I began work on starting a new journal. I knew that there was a lot of talent in the blogosphere with a similar mindset to me who could probably be convinced to review for and publish in the new journal.


But what about indexing? Web of Science and SCOPUS are both proprietary; not freely available to anyone with an internet connection. But there is a fast-growing alternative: Google Scholar. Scholar is improving rapidly compared to the legacy indexers and is arguably already better since it indexes a host of grey literature sources that the legacy indexers don’t cover. A recent article compared Scholar to WOS. I quote:

Abstract Web of Science (WoS) and Google Scholar (GS) are prominent citation services with distinct indexing mechanisms. Comprehensive knowledge about the growth patterns of these two citation services is lacking. We analyzed the development of citation counts in WoS and GS for two classic articles and 56 articles from diverse research fields, making a distinction between retroactive growth (i.e., the relative difference between citation counts up to mid-2005 measured in mid-2005 and citation counts up to mid-2005 measured in April 2013) and actual growth (i.e., the relative difference between citation counts up to mid-2005 measured in April 2013 and citation counts up to April 2013 measured in April 2013). One of the classic articles was used for a citation-by-citation analysis. Results showed that GS has substantially grown in a retroactive manner (median of 170 % across articles), especially for articles that initially had low citations counts in GS as compared to WoS. Retroactive growth of WoS was small, with a median of 2 % across articles. Actual growth percentages were moderately higher for GS than for WoS (medians of 54 vs. 41 %). The citation-by-citation analysis showed that the percentage of citations being unique in WoS was lower for more recent citations (6.8 % for citations from 1995 and later vs. 41 % for citations from before 1995), whereas the opposite was noted for GS (57 vs. 33 %). It is concluded that, since its inception, GS has shown substantial expansion, and that the majority of recent works indexed in WoS are now also retrievable via GS. A discussion is provided on quantity versus quality of citations, threats for WoS, weaknesses of GS, and implications for literature research and research evaluation.

A second threat for WoS is that in the future, GS may cover all works covered by WoS. We found that for the period 1995–2013, 6.8 % of the citations to Garfield (1955) were unique in WoS, indicating that a very large share of works indexed in WoS is now also retrievable by GS. In line with this observation, based on an analysis of 29 systematic reviews in the medical domain, Gehanno et al. (2013) recently concluded that: ‘‘The coverage of GS for the studies included in the systematic reviews is 100 %. If the authors of the 29 systematic reviews had used only GS, no reference would have been missed’’. GS’s coverage of WoS could in principle become complete in which case WoS could become a subset of GS that could be selected via a GS option ‘‘Select WoS-indexed journals and conferences only’’. 2 Together with its full-text search and its searching of the grey literature, it is possible that GS becomes the primary literature source for meta-analyses and systematic reviews. [source]

In other words, Scholar covers almost all the articles that WoS covers already and is quickly catching up on the older studies too. In a few years Scholar will cover close to 100% of the articles in legacy indexers and they will be nearly obsolete.

Getting noticed

One thing related to the above is getting noticed by other researchers. Since many researchers read legacy journals, simply being published in them is likely sufficient to get some attention (and citations!). It is however not the only way. The internet has changed the situation here completely in that there are new lots of different ways to get noticed: 1) Twitter, 2) ResearchGate, 3) Facebook/Google+, 4) Reddit, 5) Google Scholar will inform you about new any research by anyone one has cited previously, 6) blogs (own or others’) and 7) emails to colleagues (as above).

Peer review

Peer review in OpenPsych is innovative in two ways: 1) it is forum-style instead of email-based which is better suited for communication between more than 2 persons, 2) it is openly visible which works against biased reviewing. Aside from this, it is also much faster, currently averaging 20 days in review.

Reputation and career

There is clearly a drawback here for publishing in OpenPsych journals compared with legacy journals. Any new journal is likely to be viewed as not serious by many researchers. Most people dislike changes including academics (perhaps especially?). Publishing there will not improve chances of getting hired as much as will publishing in primary journals. So one must weigh what is most important: science or career?

March 7, 2014

So I started a new open access journal and here’s the peer review system

Filed under: Science — Tags: — Emil O. W. Kirkegaard @ 17:18


March 5, 2014

The quest for the perfect journal to publish in: The case of psychometrics, differential psychology

Filed under: Science — Tags: , — Emil O. W. Kirkegaard @ 16:50

So you’ve just finished your hopefully good paper. Now comes the question. Where to send it to? Actually, normally you would start by looking at journals to send to before writing. Why? Because journals are not very consistent in their requirements in writing style. There is a huge variety in the ways they want you to list references alone. If you’re using a WIZZIWIG word processor (like Word or Loffice), this means that it is cumbersome to rewrite reference systems. In fact it is cumbersome just writing papers.

But, you’re a clever one, you’ve learned about writing in LATEX and so, of course, you wrote your new paper in that. But wait, many journals only take submissions in Word clones. You’ve just restricted yourself further. Writing in LATEX saves you time in the writing process, but it might increase time due to not being able to find a journal that will take .tex files.

But ignoring issues with the chosen word processor, on what criteria should one ideally select journals to publish in? I can think of a number to begin with:

  • Journal impact factor
  • Open access
  • Publication fees
  • Peer review system (or lack thereof)
  • Speed of publication
  • DOI
  • Indexing
  • Number of readers
  • General likeability and respect of the journal
  • Whether they take LATEX

Journal impact factor (IF) is a number based on how often articles in the journal is cited. Naturally, this creates a positive feedback loop where authors try hard to publish in high IF journals which are read more and so cited more, and so increase their IF, and so competition to publish there increases, and so on forever. For journals that have limited space (even artificial), this also increases their selectivity of papers, i.e. making it harder to publish there. ‘Top’ journals like Nature are super selective because of this.

Open access is obvious. Science should be freely available to all. That’s the way it can best be utilized in practice, e.g. in politics which is notoriously unscientific. If you want more people to read your article and not just the abstract, then open access is a must.

Publication fees are fees that authors have to pay to publish in the journal. Naturally you don’t have to pay those. Sometimes there is an interaction with open access, in that a journal that is normally closed access, will agree to publish your paper open access if you pay a lot of money. “a lot” is not an exaggeration. Intelligence (IF = 2.8), for instance, allows open access but only if you pay 1800 USD plus taxes. Yes, they are absolutely immoral. No wonder, it is an Elsevier journal, a company whose main purpose is leeching money from the scientific community and the public who sponsors the scientific community. Elsevier is very evil.

Peer review is the the practice of having peers i.e. other researchers in the same broad area review your articles. The usual practice (pre-print peer review) is having an editor who receives manuscripts that people send in. He then decides if its utter shit or irrelevant or uninteresting (or something), and if it is he rejects it. If it isn’t (in his opinion), he sends it to some reviewers. These reviewers then maybe after some time write back to the editor of whether they think the article should be published. The editor then decides on those grounds in some kind of idiomatic way whether to publish or not.

In many ways, this is not a good way of doing science. See here and Nosek, Brian A., and Yoav Bar-Anan. “Scientific utopia: I. Opening scientific communication.” Psychological Inquiry 23.3 (2012): 217-243. What you want is instant publication, post-publication open peer review.

Speed of publication is how fast the decision to publish the paper or not is made after the manuscript is sent in. This can take literally years. A typical tactic is after a journal rejects a paper, just to send it to another journal and wait again. After some years of doing this someone will publish the paper unless it is unbelievably bad, and then that might not be enough.

DOI (digital object identifier) is a clever way of quickly referring to any piece of science published, figure, database, article, book, whatever. Many journals provide a DOI for the paper, but some don’t. You want this.

Indexing is if and where the journal’s contents are indexed, e.g. in Google Scholar. Since finding relevant papers via search engines is a very common way of finding papers, you want this.

Number of readers is obvious. You want to be read. Publishing in Icelandic in an unknown journal is not a good idea for this purpose.

General likability and respect of the journal. If you don’t want to be disliked, publishing in allegedly or truly racist or pseudo-scientific journals might not be a good idea.

LATEX, already covered. You want this to save time.

Where to publish?

Given the above criteria, what options are there? I can thin of some:

Journal/Criteria Impact Factor Open Access
Publication Fee Peer review Speed DOI Indexing Readers Likability LATEX
Intel., PAID, etc. High No (with fee only) No Pre Slow to very slow Yes Yes Yes Yes Some of them
JOI Low Yes No Pre Medium Yes ? ? ? Yes
Unknown three journals Very low Yes No Pre ? ? ? No ? ?
MQ Lowish No No Pre Medium No Sporadic Lowish No No


I published my first paper in MQ. I don’t mind the general dislike of it, as the works therein are quite serious in my opinion. Pre-print peer review was thorough too. Their lack of LATEX is annoying, but most annoying is the lack of indexing and DOI.

JOI might become good in the future. Right now it is weird. It has a weird system where they apparently only have special issues, and so one can’t submit stuff not covered in the special issue. Very odd.

One can also just self-publish. Perhaps set up a journal oneself to get DOI and stuff.

November 28, 2011

Reeding material: Peer review, open acces, open sience

Filed under: Copyright and filesharing,Science — Tags: , , — Emil O. W. Kirkegaard @ 12:20

For som reeson i started reeding about peer review, and i ended up reeding a lot of interesting articles.

Two quotes stand out, copyd from the Criticism section:

“There seems to be no study too fragmented, no hypothesis too trivial, no literature too biased or too egotistical, no design too warped, no methodology too bungled, no presentation of results too inaccurate, too obscure, and too contradictory, no analysis too self-serving, no argument too circular, no conclusions too trifling or too unjustified, and no grammar and syntax too offensive for a paper to end up in print.”

“The mistake, of course, is to have thought that peer review was any more than a crude means of discovering the acceptability—not the validity—of a new finding. Editors and scientists alike insist on the pivotal importance of peer review. We portray peer review to the public as a quasi-sacred process that helps to make science our most objective truth teller. But we know that the system of peer review is biased, unjust, unaccountable, incomplete, easily fixed, often insulting, usually ignorant, occasionally foolish, and frequently wrong. “

Alternativs to standard practice and related topics:

The obvius paralel:

And, did u no that “gratis” is used in English? I certainly didnt, but it is nice to see that English ‘has lerned’ somthing from the other Germanic languajes :p

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