Today's issue of Science carries the most meta sting operation I have ever seen. John Bohannon reports a study of open access journals, showing lax peer review standards. He sent 304 fake articles with obvious flaws to 304 open access journals, more than half of which were accepted.
The article is written as a stinging rebuke of open access journals. Here's the interesting thing: There's no comparison to traditional journals. For all we know, open access journals actually have *stricter* peer review standards than traditional journals. We all suspect not, but suspicion isn't supposed to count as evidence in science. Or in Science.
So this is where it gets meta: Science -- which is not open access -- published an obviously flawed article about open access journals publishing obviously flawed articles.
It would be even better if Bohannon's article had run in the "science" section of Science, rather than in the news section, where it actually ran, but hopefully we can agree that Science can't absolve itself of checking its articles for factualness and logical coherence just by labeling them "news".
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