The recent case of a computer-generated prank paper reportedly accepted by a new open access journal, The Open Information Science Journal, published by Bentham Science, calls attention to the vital importance of sound and ethical editorial practice for all scholarly publishers.
Such good practice is clearly required whatever the business model of the journal concerned. Indeed, the inspiration for this particular prank was the well-known Sokal affair, in which a deliberately nonsensical paper created by physicist Alan Sokal was accepted for publication in 1996 by the subscription-only journal, Social Text, published by Duke University Press.
The success of the open access publishing model has led to a profusion of new journals and publishers, which means that there is a particular need to ensure that authors and readers can have confidence in the editorial standards enforced by these new journals and publishers. This was one of the key drivers that led the foundation of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA).
Publishers which seek to become members of OASPA must demonstrate that their journals operate peer review, and that appropriate editorial processes are in place. The OASPA code of conduct also requires that members are responsible in their marketing practices. OASPA’s mission statement reflects this:
Promote a uniform definition of OA publishing, best practices for maintaining and disseminating OA scholarly communications, and ethical standards.”
Bentham Science is not a member of OASPA.
While no system is perfect, and many reputable journals have experienced problems with scientific fraud, most publishers take the responsibility to vet articles before publication very seriously. Several OASPA members are active participants in publication ethics organizations such as the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), and the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME). We encourage all responsible open access publishers to participate in these organizations, to enforce their recommendations with respect to editorial good practice, and to apply for membership of OASPA.