Academic journals can’t be trusted to tell the scientific truth

Dutch researcher Julian Kirchherr has published an interesting article in The Guardian about the reliability of academic journals, and the consequences for the academic world that orbits around them.

Science (and more specifically the scientific publication market) is in a major crisis, and journals are publishing a large amount of articles with fake results – which cannot be replicated in other experiments -, and even false data fabricated by researchers.

The interesting aspect of Mr. Kirchherr’s opinion is that, unlike many others who criticize the shortcomings of the publishing industry, he stresses the value of performance indicators – such as the number of papers published in high-impact journals – for academic institutions.

However, not only novel and surprising results (many of them made by chance) should be taken into account, but also good (and dull) research that doesn’t produce great discoveries, as well as the teaching prowess of a researcher.

The solution cannot be to revolutionize or get rid of the publishing industry: what we need is a proper evolution of a system in crisis, including a general, healthy distrust of methods, materials, results and discussion of any article published in any journal, and not only major scandals.