Department Blog

Scholarly Communication

Evaluating the quality of open access journals


Last week, an article published in Science by John Bohannon renewed discussion about the quality of peer review in open access journals among scholarly communication stakeholders and received attention from the popular news media.

Science article:

Bohannon, J. (2013). Who’s afraid of peer review? Science, 342(6154), 60-65. doi: 10.1126/science.342.6154.60


Knox, R. (2013, October 3).  Some online journals will publish fake science, for a fee.  NPR.  Accessed October 8, 2013, from

Bohannon (2013) submitted spoof papers reporting fake, methodologically flawed research to open access journals from 304 different publishers, with 157 journals accepting and 98 rejecting the paper.  “For the 255 papers that underwent the entire editing process to acceptance or rejection, about 60% of the final decisions occurred with no sign of peer review” (Bohannon, p. 64).

Open access advocates have responded to the article in Science, criticizing the study’s methods and the paper’s conclusions:

Joseph, H. (2013, October 4).  Science Magazine’s open access “sting.”  SPARC [blog].  Accessed October 8, 2013, from

Suber, P. (2013, October 3). New “sting” of open access journals [blog]. Accessed October 8, 2013, from

Additional resources:

The UC Davis Library’s Open Access Topic Guide, offers some suggestions for how to evaluate the quality of open access journals:

This recent article provides of good overview of the problem of mixed quality in open access journals:

Millard, W. B. (2013). Some research wants to be free, some follows the money: Bogus journals complicate the open access movement. Annals of Emergency Medicine, 62(2), A14-A20.   Accessed October 8, 2013, from

Comments are closed.