SciBytes @ SciSTIP is an information series produced by SciSTIP. Its aim is to disseminate on a regular basis brief reports about some aspect of the science and innovation system in South Africa. The aim is to inform and share knowledge produced by SciSTIP. The “bytes” are written in a non-technical style. Every issue of SciBytes is structured in the form of a main question (with some elaboration). This series forms part of SciSTIP’s science engagement strategy.
How to identify and respond to the continuing threat of predatory publishers and journals
SciByte 3: July 2021
Johann Mouton and Marthie van Niekerk
It is now more than a decade that Jeffrey Beall – a former librarian at the University of Colorado in Denver – introduced the idea of ‘predatory’ journals to refer to journals (and their publishers) that exist for the sole purpose of making profit. In his first major publication on the topic published in Nature in 2012, Beall provided a first description of what is meant by predatory publishing:
Then came predatory publishers, which publish counterfeit journals to exploit the open-access model in which the author pays. These predatory publishers are dishonest and lack transparency. They aim to dupe researchers, especially those inexperienced in scholarly communication. They set up websites that closely resemble those of legitimate online publishers, and publish journals of questionable and downright low quality. Many purport to be headquartered in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada or Australia but really hail from Pakistan, India or Nigeria. Some predatory publishers spam researchers, soliciting manuscripts but failing to mention the required author fee.
Beall uses the term ‘predatory’ to refer to journals that ‘prey’ on (often unsuspecting and often young) scholars to submit their manuscripts for the sole purpose of making money from these scholars. In this process, normal good editorial and review processes are violated or suspended.
How well is South African science doing?
SciByte 2: June 2018
Johann Mouton and Jaco Blanckenberg
When assessing the performance of any national science system one needs to be clear about the “performance criteria” as well as the underlying data that are being used in such an assessment.
As far as the underlying data are concerned, we use the CAWeb of Science database1. and confine our assessment to South Africa’s publications in two categories: ‘articles’ and ‘review articles’. This means that we exclude documents such as books, book chapters and conference proceedings in our counts. We assess South Africa’s bibliometric performance according to three indicators: Publication output, International collaboration and Citation visibility or impact. We have selected these three indicators as they are conventionally used in bibliometric analyses and do capture some of the most important aspects of scientific production. However, it is also important to emphasize that they do not capture other important dimensions of scientific performance. Dimensions, such as the relevance and quality of a country’s science, the degree to which science impacts on society and the profile of the human resource base of scientific production (to name three only) are not addressed in this communication.
How many scientific papers does South Africa produce annually?
SciByte 1: July 2017
Although it should be easy to establish what the volume of South Africa’s published scientific production is, the question requires clarification on three accounts: what we mean by “scientific”, what is meant by “papers” and what “data source” we use to calculate the number of papers. As far as the former is concerned, we use a very comprehensive definition of “science” to include all scientific and scholarly disciplines. In the original meaning of “scientia” (Lat.) the word refers to knowledge. We follow this usage and include all “knowledge” disciplines that are typically found at universities ranging from the natural sciences and engineering to the health sciences, social sciences and humanities. As far as our definition of “paper” is concerned we follow standard bibliometric practice and define paper according to the “document type” of “articles” and “review articles” in the TR Web of Science. This means that we exclude documents such as books, book chapters and conference proceedings in our counts.