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Predatory Online Technical Journals: A Question of Ethics

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Ethical Behavior in Academia and Beyond

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.995.1 - 24.995.16



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Paper Authors


Marilyn A. Dyrud Oregon Institute of Technology

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Marilyn Dyrud has been an active member of ASEE since 1986. She has served as Pacific Northwest section chair, newsletter editor, Zone IV chair, and is currently the immediate past chair of the Engineering Ethics Division. She was her campus’s ASEE representative for 17 years and organized a conference there for 10 years. She is a regular annual conference presenter, moderator, and reviewer and serves as communications editor for the Journal of Engineering Technology, as well as a manuscript reviewer for several other technical journals.

She has received a number of awards, including ASEE Fellow, the McGraw Award, and, most recently, the Berger Award. In addition to activity in the ethics division, she is also a member of the Engineering Technology Division’s executive board. She serves on several national committees.

Marilyn is also active in the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, serving as a moderator for the Ethics Bowl and proceedings editor, and the Association for Business Communication; she s a regional vice-president and a section editor for ABC’s pedagogical journal.

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Predatory Online Technical Journals: A Question of EthicsIn 2009, Phil Davis, a doctoral student at Cornell University, embarked upon a bold venture:after receiving numerous hectoring emails from Bentham Science requesting articles forpublication, he and fellow adventurer Kent Anderson, an executive at The New England Journalof Medicine, used a paper generator to create a scholarly looking but nonsensical manuscript andsubmitted the result to Bentham’s The Open Information Science Journal. The authors, usingpseudonyms, cited their affiliation as the Center for Research in Applied Phrenology; theacronym CRAP, a dead giveaway, was apparently overlooked by the manuscript editor. To theirdelight, a few weeks later they received a notice of acceptance, based on a rigorous peer reviewprocess, and a bill for $800, with directions to send payment to a post office box in the UnitedArab Emirates.The incident created a whirlwind of commentary in the blogosphere and is but one of severalrecent, deliberate hoaxes aimed at online journals, particularly “open access” (also dubbed“predatory”) journals. But it also raises important questions in regards to the integrity ofpublished research in STEM-related fields and the ethics of publishers who will resort to lying tocollect substantial page fees.This paper will examine the issue of questionable online technical journals, using an ethicsprism. Specifically, the paper will discuss the general situation; selected high profileexperiments, false material and the impact of disseminating false information; and major ethicalconcepts related to this issue. Readers will learn how to recognize and avoid bogus journals, aswell as techniques for evaluating information and veracity. This paper should have special appealto a mixed audience: new engineering educators who are in the process of building theirpromotion and tenure portfolios, graduate students conducting thesis or dissertation research, andseasoned educators who deal with the issue of online information accuracy in their classrooms.

Dyrud, M. A. (2014, June), Predatory Online Technical Journals: A Question of Ethics Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22928

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