Help stop the spread of fake science

A team of Canadian researchers that studied so-called predatory journals is suggesting a “co-ordinated response” from scientists, institutions and patients to combat the spread of illegitimate or questionable science.

Researchers from the Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa have published a guide for stakeholders in Nature of Human Behaviour, saying their actions will be “needed to stop the influence of illegitimate journals.”

The predatory journals operate on a for-profit basis, and often publish poorly researched or bogus science that could endanger scientific credibility and, ultimately, patients.

A previous study by the Ottawa research team looked at more than 1,900 studies published in suspected predatory journals and found that the majority of them didn’t meet the basic information requirements to be published by a legitimate journal.

The latest paper from the Ottawa researchers makes several suggestions for combating the proliferation of fake science. They include:

  • Educating researchers on how to identify predatory journals and avoid submitting their work to them
  • Encouraging institutions to provide incentives for their researchers to publish their work in legitimate journals.
  • Funding agencies need to do an audit of where the research is being published
  • Asking patients and study participants to “apply pressure”on researchers and funders to make sure the clinical studies are published by reputable outlets.

“Predatory journals are corrupting science,” David Moher, the senior author of the paper and a University of Ottawa professor, said in a news release.

“Relevant policies and actions need to be taken by funders and institutions to fight them.”
Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/THE CANADIAN PRESS.
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