Over 5,000 research scientists working in German universities and other higher education institutes have published their research findings in journals run by quasi-scientific publishers, according to a media report released on Thursday.
When researchers publish their results in a scientific journal, it is anticipated that their research theory, scope, assumptions, exclusions, method and data have been subjected to rigorous scrutiny by other scientists in the field in a process known as peer review. Though in recent years the per review process has been discredited because of the operation of an old boy network in academic research, the system if properly executed acts as a form of quality control, ensuring that studies are scientifically sound before being released to the public.
Quasi-scientific publishers, however, carry out little to no review of the articles (a system known as pal review, you get your pal to say nice things about your research, in return you say nice things about the results of his next project) and often publish the articles soon after receiving them, according to research carried out by German public broadcasters NDR and WDR as well as German news magazine Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin.
The publishers approach scientists and companies around the world, encouraging them to publish their work in one of their journals. The researchers then pay to have their article or study published in one of these journals where it appears within a few days.
The report found that some 400,000 researchers worldwide have used these scientifically dubious journals — knowingly or inadvertently — to publish their work.