30 January 2023

DORA at ten: Publisher ban roundtable

On a bit of a whim, I proposed an event for the 10th anniversary events around the Declaration of Research Assessment (DORA).

And they said yes?

And now I have to do this. Mark your calendars and if you’re interested in being part of the roundtable, email me!

Publisher bans and DORA

Publisher bans and DORA

Publishers like MDPI, Frontiers, and Hindawi have experienced enormous growth in the number of submissions from researchers, which would suggest they they are meeting needs of the research community and providing good value to researchers. But multiple institutions have told scientists that research in journals from these publishers will no longer “count” for assessment. Such policies suggest that these are “predatory” publishers that do not perform the basic functions of academic journals. The publishers dispute this, as do many authors whose work appears in their journals. Many authors believe that choosing where to publishing their findings is part of their academic freedom. Blacklisting publishers with hundreds of journals may be too blunt an instrument for research assessment and inconsistent with DORA. Are there cases where such bans are valid and useful to the community?

This event will be held as an online round-table discussion followed by a moderated Q & A session.

Update, 12 March 2023: I have created a registration form for the publisher bans and blacklists event so that you can be notified of updates.

I’ve been ripped off! OMICS journal messes up my work

Matt Hodgkinson drew my attention of that fact that one of my articles on authorship has been ripped off and turned into mush by someone in OMICS. (Lightly edited)

Allied Business Academies, a.k.a. Allied Academies, are another publisher to avoid. Quelle surprise, as they’re a brand of the notorious publisher OMICS.

Compare: Zen Faulkes’s 2018 article, “Resolving authorship disputes by mediation and arbitration” with Laura Sandra’s 2021 article, “Alternative Dispute Resolution in Academic Publishing”, in Journal of Organizational Culture Communications and Conflict.

Ms. Sandra, of course, does not exist.

I am always glad when someone finds my work worthy enough to re-use, but I have to say: This is not what I had in mind.

It is weird to see my work in this garbled form. I can recognize some of the elements of my paper, but it’s like they’ve been put through a blender, no doubt to avoid setting off plagiarism detectors. My original paper was 7 typeset pages with 95 references. “Sandra’s” version is a page and a half with three references. 

I have not included a link to the OMICS article because they don’t need the clicks. Go read my paper instead. I think it has something useful to say.


Faulkes Z. 2018. Resolving authorship disputes by mediation and arbitration. Research Integrity and Peer Review 3(1): 12. https://doi.org/10.1186/s41073-018-0057-z

External links

Matt Hodgkinson on LinkedIn

Why my new paper on award-winning conference posters is short

You know, sometimes you have plans for a project. Big plans. And sometimes those pan out. And sometimes, you are pleased that at least something came out.

I have a new little paper about conference posters out today.

It started when Paige Jarreau wrote somewhere (can’t remember if I saw it first on her Twitter or a Slack channel) that she was going to be organizing a special collection on visual narratives in science communication. And I thought, “Hey, I could use this to make the point that even though posters are a form of visual communication, they are usually very heavy on text.”

I submitted an abstract for a proposal to see if it fit the project. I had an idea for checking out a few posters every week over the summer to build up a little database. 

I didn’t want just a hodge-podge of random posters. I wanted distinct sets that were publicly archived. I had already bookmarked a few conferences that archived their posters.

Then reality set in. Some of my bookmarks had already succumbed to link rot, and the posters were no longer available. The semester started, and it was a hard semester in terms of preparation. So instead of posters from multiple conferences, I ended up with just one conference. But I think it was an interesting set of posters, because they were award winners from one of the biggest conferences in the world. Surely these would be awesome!

I hadn’t gotten as far or as detailed as I originally planned. But this project had a deadline, and 50% of something is better than 100% of nothing. I wrote the paper and submitted it. 

Things got worse, time wise, when reviews came back. It wasn’t rejected! But then, not only was class preparation had gotten more time-consuming, not less. I just couldn’t get to the revisions. Then there was a family emergency, so I got an extension.

Unfortunately, I was already so far behind that I missed one opportunity to make the paper better. 

One reviewer suggested a work I hadn’t heard about. But it wasn’t online or in the library. And it wasn’t a short article. It would take time to read. I decided not to wait until I could get the interlibrary loan. I submitted the revision without it. I have since gotten the work and... argh, it was so on point. It would have been a completely logical thing to include and discuss in my paper.

It’s going to be one of those losses that will haunt me until I put it right somehow.

I hope the paper has something to offer. It gave me more ideas for how I could push forward with bigger, better analyses in the future.


Faulkes Z. 2023. The “wall of text” visual structure of academic conference posters. Frontiers in Communication 8. https://doi.org/10.3389/fcomm.2023.1063345

14 January 2023

Publisher bans: A repeating pattern of attack on academic freedom

Last week, a couple of websites reported that a couple of departments at Zhejiang Gongshang University were not going to count publications appearing in three large open access publishers: MDPI, Frontiers, and Hindawi.

The policy appears to be leaked from internal memos. I searched the university site for the memo, and Google reports a result, but it is hidden behind an institutional login, so I can’t see the rationale behind this move.

This is the third attempt I know of to stop researchers from using certain publishers. I say again, publishers. And this doesn’t include the Chinese Academy of Sciences flagging dozens of journals as “risky.” 

You know, back when European funding agencies were announcing so-called “Plan S” to promote open access publication, some folks got all huffy 😤 about how vital it was to academic freedom that researchers be able to exercise choice in where they chose to publish their results. How dare a funding agency tell a researcher that they can’t publish in journals like Nature or Science, just because they are not open access! 

If that principle of researchers being able to choose their journal is important, then we are seeing a lot of attacks on academic freedom. But not many people seem to care. Far from being concerned, a lot of researchers seem to think banning researchers from using particular publishers is a great idea. That’s kind of blowing my mind. 🤯

Have these people not heard of the Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA)? It says, we “need to assess research on its own merits rather than on the basis of the journal in which the research is published.” The same principle should extend to publishers. If we shouldn’t judge research based on the journal it is in, we shouldn’t judge research based on the publisher of the journal, either.

For what it’s worth, I’ve tracked a lot of the criticism of MDPI in particular here on the blog. There are valid reasons to be concerned about editorial practices. But on the other hand, I’ve read a lot of useful papers in journals from all three of the publishers that Zhejiang Gongshang University are trying to blacklist.

Hat tip to Mario Barbatti and Richard Sever.

P.S.—Weirdly, when I searched the university for references to this new policy, one of the hits was to an open access library that said, “Most of these papers come from internationally renowned publishing institutions, including Hindawi, PlosOne, MDPI, Scientific Research Publishing and some high-quality articles from Biomed.” (Emphasis added.) So the library knows not what administrators are doing?

Update, 18 January 2023: I ran a couple of polls asking if people considered being able to choose their publication venue to be important to their academic freedom.

People on Twitter voted “Yes” more than twice as much as “No.” The vote on Mastadon was smaller but even more lopsided.

External links

Related posts

University tells scholars what journals to publish in