Ah, just kidding with that last blog post! There really is no Royal North American College of Open University blah blah, and I don’t really believe the Earth is flat. In fact, check out the first-ever photo of a black hole released yesterday.
In my First Year Seminar class today, I stressed the importance of using credible, scholarly sources when one is gathering information for a paper or project. Just because a source you find online says something that sounds credible, like “Open University” or “Royal Society of…” does not mean it’s credible. It might be, but it might not be, and so you must dig deeper to see who the authors are, who publishes the website and what their mission is, etc.
Just as you can find “fake news” online alongside bona fide news from professional news sources that actually do fact-checking and have standards of ethics and integrity for news gathering and reporting, you can find “fake scholarship” online that masquerades as bona fide scholarship that has been peer reviewed. This “fake scholarship” enterprise is known as predatory publishing because some enterprising people realized that they could create a “journal” online and give it an official title (often a title very similar to an existing scholarly journal title), and get some people to submit work to them. Once they agree to publish it in their online “journal”, they charge the unsuspecting author(s) hundreds of dollars for “processing” the article. In sometimes just a matter of days, the “scholarship”–regardless of quality– can be found online in the “journal”, formatting in a way that mimics the appearance of a real journal article.
These predatory publishers do not put the articles they publish through review by scholarly experts in the field. Two professors, David Mazieres and Eddie Kohler, were so tired of receiving emails inviting them to publish in an online “journal” on computer technology and not being removed from the predator’s email list that they finally submitted an obviously fake journal article to the offending “journal.” It consisted of nothing other than the statement, “Get me off your fucking mailing list” repeated multiple times–only to find that the journal published THAT! See below for one of the graphs the authors included in their obviously fake F-word article. As the story detailing what happened shows, that even this F-word article was published reveals that the journal engaged in no peer review and so articles published in such a journal cannot be trusted.
So, don’t be fooled by a website’s name or appearance. Look into your source before trusting that the information is credible.