Journal that published bogus chocolate study delisted from open access directory

logo_croppedThe journal that recently published a bogus study showing the health benefits of chocolate has been kicked out of a membership organization for open access journals.

According to the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), the International Archives of Medicine was removed from the list of member journals August 20, due to “suspected editorial misconduct by publisher.”

The journal is still was listed in PubMed until November 2014.

According to the DOAJ website, membership to the organization serves as a stamp of approval for OA journals:

A DOAJ Membership is a clear statement of intent and proves a commitment to quality, peer-reviewed open access. DOAJ is co-author to the Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing (Principles) and DOAJ members are expected to follow these principles as a condition of membership. DOAJ reserves the right to reject applications for membership, or revoke membership if a member or sponsor is found to contravene the Principles.

A DOAJ representative told us they don’t “discuss individual cases with anyone apart from the publisher.” That sentiment is echoed on their website:

To assist libraries and indexers keep their lists up-to-date, we make public a list of journals that have been accepted into or removed from DOAJ but we will not discuss the details of an application with anyone apart from the applicant. Neither will we discuss individual publishers or applications with members of the public unless we believe that, by doing so, we will be making a positive contribution to the open access community.

Publisher Carlos Vazquez told Retraction Watch:

We just respect the decision of DOAJ since we understand this is an independent database and they have communicated with us in a proper way.

We are paying a high price for a mistake we made (a paper we published by mistake) and we have taken measures to prevent these mistakes from happening again.

We are completely committed to serious publishing. We adhere the Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing, the joint statement of DOAJ with COPE, OASPA and WAME and WAME’s Publication Ethics Policies for Medical Journals.

We hope we can be listed again in DOAJ in 12 months.

John Bohannon, a  co-author of the chocolate study, told us that DOAJ is fighting an uphill battle to identify all of literature’s “fake journals:”

[I]t’s a huge and important task that they’re undertaking with a tiny staff and very little funding! We all owe them several million Euros to do the job right.

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13 thoughts on “Journal that published bogus chocolate study delisted from open access directory”

  1. To clarify what’s been said above, MedLine, PubMed and PubMed Central are three different things. Medline is a carefully considered and hard to get into index of high quality biomedical journals. PubMed Central (PMC) is the NIH’s repository for collecting open access articles and providing a public access version of articles resulting from NIH funding. PubMed is the search engine used to access what’s indexed in Medline, and as of recent years, anything that is included in PMC can be found in PubMed search results as well. This has resulted in a great deal of confusion as to what’s in Medline and what’s just in PMC (which has a much lower standard for inclusion). For some, depositing articles into PMC is a quick backdoor route to getting the exposure and legitimacy offered by PubMed (as many assume you’re in Medline when they see you in search results).

    So the articles you’re seeing are in PubMed because they were deposited in PMC, but the journal itself was not accepted nor indexed by Medline.

      1. PMC is indeed not limited to OA articles, hence I included mention of “public access” versions of funded articles in my description above.

        From the linked article you sent, what’s in PubMed search results is as “1) MEDLINE indexed journals, 2) journals/manuscripts deposited in PMC, and 3) NCBI Bookshelf.” This is noted to include, “Citations to some additional life sciences journals that submit full text to PMC® (PubMed Central®) and receive a qualitative review by NLM” and “Citations to author manuscripts of articles published by NIH-funded researchers.”

        Can you suggest what else is in PMC that is not included in PubMed search results?

        1. Some journals submit all of their content to PubMed Central, including types of articles that PubMed deems “non-indexable”. That includes content like meeting abstracts and book reviews. Those are in PMC but not PubMed.

          1. Thanks. Trying to get some clarity here. So basically anyone can dump anything they want into PMC? But then it only gets indexed for PubMed searches after the NLM does a basic quality check on the journal or it comes from an author who is NIH funded?

            If that is correct, how do they determine if an article actually has NIH funding, and how would one find any of the non-PubMed indexed material that’s in PMC?

  2. That’s not right, nor is it what I said, though with your demonstrated opinion of PubMed Central, I’m not really surprised you jumped to that conclusion. Since we’ve gotten completely off the topic of the original post, this will be my last reply.

    1. Woah! I’m sorry if I caused any offense. I’m really not trying to attack you or PMC, I’m trying to better understand what goes into PMC. I thought I had a fairly good handle on it from reading their rules and interacting with them to get journals approved and deposited. Have I misread your comment above? Are the only routes into PMC for articles to be either 1) in an NLM approved journal or 2) the article’s authors were NIH supported? Can articles that meet neither of these criteria be deposited, and if so, are they indexed in PubMed? If not, how can one find such material?

      If, as you note, some journals deposit things like meeting abstracts and book reviews into PMC, how would I go about finding those?

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