Publishing research in the scientific, technological and medical (STM) fields is an absolutely vital building block in the development of the innovations that make modern life possible. However, there are numerous challenges facing the scholarly journal field. In an era when there are numerous false or duplicitous organizations operating, it's more important than ever for legitimate, "good" publishers to resort to strong practices and advanced technologies that will make their offerings of use to the research community. This is a chaotic time in publishing, but there will always be a need for reliable sources that take their contributors and audiences seriously.
Science's challenging growth phase
What are some of the issues facing the academic publishing industry? According to The Guardian contributor Adam Rutherford, the situation has been muddled by the entry of entities that claim to be actual scientific organs but don't meet the rigorous standards demanded of academic journals.
"Honest entrants in academic publishing have to ensure their offerings are of a high quality."
Even major publishers have faults within their systems, as Rutherford explained that a large house had to retract multiple items after finding out that the peer review phase of their publication had been falsified. This is clearly a tumultuous era when large and small companies alike are being embroiled in such problems. Honest entrants in the industry will have to ensure their own offerings are of a high quality and set apart from these issues.
Rutherford did present some positive effects that might be able to counter the salacious elements present on the margins of academic publishing, as he explained that a new standard of scrutiny is taking hold. After a period in which credulity was too high, there has been a correction in some quarters. Furthermore, Rutherford described a wave of people entering the industry eager to challenge and review work to ascertain the truth, countering the forces using the veneer of science to publish untested opinions. He concluded that there is need for structural improvements to make the system work.
What does a bad journal look like?
A recent article from The Australian zoomed in on what negative elements in academic publishing look like. The source indicated that some of these organizations start up in a hurry, suddenly launching sites that all look alike and host improbably large numbers of papers. These documents may be vetted poorly, or not at all. The news source exposed how this system works by submitting a paper that made no sense at all. The strings of meaningless phrases were accepted as-is for a fee.
"Sham publications launch sites that are unsophisticated, suspect and ugly."
Tools for good journals
In an era rife with bad and shoddy companies, it's up to real academic publishing houses to defend their good name through best practices and advanced tech solutions. Whereas sham publications will launch sites that are unsophisticated, suspect and ugly, there are many tools that real academic organizations can use to empower authors and readers. Interactive STM journals enable readers to work with the facts and figures within articles, easily engaging in peer review functions and interacting with fellow academics' work.
In an era when fake research is all to easy to find, researchers need ways to get their painstaking work in front of their audiences. Science must go on, and reputable STM e-journals provide this vital function.