Reader Beware!

Blogs and email lists are buzzing with the latest news about Elsevier, the large STM publishing corporation. Elsevier publishes many highly respected journals like Brain Research Reviews and Biomaterials. Most of their journals are peer-reviewed and trustworthy.

The Scientist reports that in the first years of this decade Elsevier partnered with pharmaceutical companies to create "journals" that were actually advertisements. The editorial content was influenced by the sponsoring companies and the articles were reprints from other journals. Elsevier has acknowledged the problem and announced changes to its procedures.

When we talk with you about doing literature research, we try to emphasize the need to assess the authority and credibility of a source. The kind of marketing-masquerade that happened here is difficult to identify and discuss. If just the editorial content was influenced, are the research articles still considered unbiased? You need to know how the research articles fit in with the rest of the literature to make that sort of determination. Please talk with your liaison librarian if you have any questions about this aspect of literature research.

About Robin Sinn

Robin is a science librarian with a strong interest in scholarly communications. That's why she posts about new journals, Open Access, and author metrics, as well as library resources.

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