28 April 2020

Fallacies of composition and division in journals and publishers

“Publishers” and “journals”are related. One academic publisher typically has many journals. Each journal is independent and has its own editorial board and practices. But I’m surprised by how often I see people committing either the fallacy of composition or the fallacy of division with publishers and journals.

“I had a bad experience reviewing for Journal X from Publisher Y” should lead to the conclusion that Journal X is problematic, but I frequently see people conclude that everything from Publisher Y is problematic. Fallacy of composition.

That there are 53 disciplinary journals with the word “Nature” in the front of their title from Nature Publishing Group might be in part because people commit the fallacy of division.

What’s interesting is that which fallacy people are willing to commit seems to be mainly a factor of the age of the publisher.

I’ve seen people argue, “You can’t process the quality of each journal separately” for a relatively new publisher with less than 250 journals. But people do judge journals individually for old publishers that are home to ten times more journals.

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