Michele Farisco,Kathinka Evers and Arleen Salles address the issue in the journal Science and Engineering Ethics. For them, ethics is not primarily principles and guidelines. Ethics is rather an ongoing process of thinking: it is continual ethical reflection on AI. Their question is thus not what is required of an ethical framework built around AI. Their question is what is required of in-depth ethical reflection on AI.
The authors emphasize conceptual analysis as essential in all ethical reflection on AI. One of the big difficulties is that we do not know exactly what we are discussing! What is intelligence? What is the difference between artificial and natural intelligence? How should we understand the relationship between intelligence and consciousness? Between intelligence and emotions? Between intelligence and insightfulness?
Ethical problems about AI can be both practical and theoretical, the authors point out. They describe two practical and two theoretical problems to consider. One practical problem is the use of AI in activities that require emotional abilities that AI lacks. Empathy gives humans insight into other humans’ needs. Therefore, AI’s lack of emotional involvement should be given special attention when we consider using AI in, for example, child or elderly care. The second practical problem is the use of AI in activities that require foresight. Intelligence is not just about reacting to input from the environment. A more active, foresighted approach is often needed, going beyond actual experience and seeing less obvious, counterintuitive possibilities. Crying can express pain, joy and much more, but AI cannot easily foresee less obvious possibilities.
Two theoretical problems are also mentioned in the article. The first is whether AI in the future may have morally relevant characteristics such as autonomy, interests and preferences. The second problem is whether AI can affect human self-understanding and create uncertainty and anxiety about human identity. These theoretical problems undoubtedly require careful analysis – do we even know what we are asking? In philosophy we often need to clarify our questions as we go along.
Articles that turn out to be based on fraudulent or flawed research are, of course, retracted by the journals that published them. The fact that there is a clearly stated policy for retracting fraudulent research is extremely important. Science as well as its societal applications must be able to trust that published findings are correct and not fabricated or distorted.
However, how should we handle articles that turn out to be based on unethical research? For example, research on the bodies of executed prisoners? Or research that exposes participants to unreasonable risks? Or research supported by unacceptable sources of funding?
In a new article, William Bülow, Tove E. Godskesen, Gert Helgesson and Stefan Eriksson examine whether academic journals have clearly formulated policies for retracting papers that are based on unethical research. The review shows that many journals lack such policies. This introduces arbitrariness and uncertainty into the system, the authors argue. Readers cannot trust that published research is ethical. They also do not know on what grounds articles are retracted or remain in the journal.
To motivate a clearly stated policy, the authors discuss four possible arguments for retracting unethical research papers. Two arguments are considered particularly conclusive. The first is that such a policy communicates that unethical research is unacceptable, which can deter researchers from acting unethically. The second argument is that journals that make it possible to complete unethical research by publishing it and that benefit from it become complicit in the unethical conduct.
Retraction of research papers is a serious matter and very compromising for researchers. Therefore, it is essential to clarify which forms and degrees of unethical conduct are sufficient to justify retraction. The authors cite as examples research based on serious violations of human rights, unfree research and research with unacceptable sources of funding.
The article concludes by recommending scientific journals to introduce a clearly stated policy for retracting unethical research: as clear as the policy for fraudulent research. Among other things, all retractions should be marked in the journal and the reasons behind the retractions should be specified in terms of both the kind and degree of unethical conduct.
An article in the journal Big Data & Society criticizes the form of ethics that has come to dominate research and innovation in artificial intelligence (AI). The authors question the same “framework interpretation” of ethics that you could read about on the Ethics Blog last week. However, with one disquieting difference. Rather than functioning as a fence that can set the necessary boundaries for development, the framework risks being used as ethics washing by AI companies that want to avoid legal regulation. By referring to ethical self-regulation – beautiful declarations of principles, values and guidelines – one hopes to be able to avoid legal regulation, which could set important limits for AI.
The problem with AI ethics as “soft ethics legislation” is not just that it can be used to avoid necessary legal regulation of the area. The problem is above all, according to the SIENNA researchers who wrote the article, that a “law conception of ethics” does not help us to think clearly about new situations. What we need, they argue, is an ethics that constantly renews our ability to see the new. This is because AI is constantly confronting us with new situations: new uses of robots, new opportunities for governments and companies to monitor people, new forms of dependence on technology, new risks of discrimination, and many other challenges that we may not easily anticipate.
The authors emphasize that such eye-opening AI ethics requires close collaboration with the social sciences. That, of course, is true. Personally, I want to emphasize that an ethics that renews our ability to see the new must also be philosophical in the deepest sense of the word. To see the new and unexpected, you cannot rest comfortably in your professional competence, with its established methods, theories and concepts. You have to question your own disciplinary framework. You have to think for yourself.
The word ethical framework evokes the idea of something rigid and separating, like the fence around the garden. The research that emerges within the framework is dynamic and constantly new. However, to ensure safety, it is placed in an ethical framework that sets clear boundaries for what researchers are allowed to do in their work.
The article questions not only the image of ethical frameworks as static boundaries for dynamic research activities. Inspired by ideas within so-called responsible research and innovation (RRI), the image that research can be separated from ethics and society is also questioned.
Researchers tend to regard research as their own concern. However, there are tendencies towards increasing collaboration not only across disciplinary boundaries, but also with stakeholders such as patients, industry and various forms of extra-scientific expertise. These tendencies make research an increasingly dispersed, common concern. Not only in retrospect in the form of applications, which presupposes that the research effort can be separated, but already when research is initiated, planned and carried out.
This could sound threatening, as if foreign powers were influencing the free search for truth. Nevertheless, there may also be something hopeful in the development. To see the hopeful aspect, however, we need to free ourselves from the image of ethical frameworks as static boundaries, separate from dynamic research.
With examples from the Human Brain Project, Arleen Salles and Michele Farisco try to show how ethical challenges in neuroscience projects cannot always be controlled in advance, through declared principles, values and guidelines. Even ethical work is dynamic and requires living intelligent attention. The authors also try to show how ethical attention reaches all he way into the neuroscientific issues, concepts and working conditions.
When research on the human brain is not aware of its own cultural and societal conditions, but takes them for granted, it may mean that relevant questions are not asked and that research results do not always have the validity that one assumes they have.
We thus have good reasons to see ethical and societal reflections as living parts of neuroscience, rather than as rigid frameworks around it.
Scientific discovery is based on the novelty of the questions you ask. This means that if you want to discover something new, you probably have to ask a different question. And since different people have different preconceptions and experiences than you, they are likely to formulate their questions differently. This makes a case for diversity in research, If we want to make new discoveries that concern diverse groups, diversity in research becomes even more important.
The Human Brain Project participated in the FENS 2020 Virtual Forum this summer, an international virtual neuroscience conference that explores all domains in modern brain research. For the Human Brain Project (HBP), committed to responsible research and innovation, this includes diversity. Which is why Karin Grasenick, Coordinator for Gender and Diversity in the HBP, explored the relationship between diversity and new discovery in the session “Of mice, men and machines” at the FENS 2020.
So why is diversity in research crucial to make new discoveries? Research depends on the questions asked, the models used, and the details considered. For this reason, it is important to reflect on why certain variables are analysed, or which aspects might play a role. An example is Parkinson’s disease, where patients are affected differently depending on both age and gender. Being a (biological) man or woman, old or young is important for both diagnosis and treatment. If we know that diversity matters in research on Parkinson’s disease, it probably should do so in most neuroscience. Apart from gender and age, we also need to consider other aspects of diversity, like race, ethnicity, education or social background. Because depending on who you are, biologically, culturally and socially, you are likely to need different things.
A quite recent example for this is Covid-19, which does not only display gender differences (as it affects more men than women), but also racial differences: Black and Latino people in the US have been disproportionately affected, regardless of their living area (rural or urban) or their age (old or young). Again, the reasons for this are not simply biologically essentialist (e.g. hormones or chromosomes), but also linked to social aspects such as gendered lifestyles (men are more often smokers than women), inequities in the health system or certain jobs which cannot be done remotely (see for example this BBC Future text on why Covid-19 is different for men and women or this one on the racial inequity of coronavirus in The New York Times).
Another example is Machine Learning. If we train AI on data that is not representative of the population, we introduce bias in the algorithm. For example, applications to diagnose skin cancer in medicine more often fail to recognize tumours in darker skin correctly because they are trained using pictures of fair skin. There are several reasons for not training AI properly, it could be a cost issue, lack of material to train the AI on, but it is not unlikely that people with dark skin are discriminated because scientists and engineers simply did not think about diversity when picking material for the AI to train on. In the case of skin cancer, it is clear that diversity could indeed save lives.
But where to start? When you do research, there are two questions that must be asked: First, what is the focus of your research? And second, who are the beneficiaries of your research?
Whenever your research focus includes tissues, cells, animals or humans, you should consider diversity factors like gender, age, race, ethnicity, and environmental influences. Moreover, any responsible scientist should consider who has access to their research and profits from it, as well as the consequences their research might have for end users or the broader public.
However, as a researcher you need to consider not only the research subjects and the people your results benefit. The diversity of the research team also matters, because different people perceive problems in different ways and use different methods and processes to solve them. Which is why a diverse team is more innovative.
This is a guest blog post from the Human Brain Project (HBP). The HBP as received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation under the Specific Grant Agreement No. 945539 (Human Brain Project SGA3).
The covid-19 pandemic forced many of us to work online from home. The change contained surprises, both positive and negative. We learned that it is possible to have digital staff meetings, seminars and coffee breaks, and that working from home can sometimes mean less interference than working in the office. We also discovered how much better the office chair and desk are, how difficult it is to try to be professional online from an untidy home, and that working from home often means more interference than working in the office!
The European Human Brain Project (HBP) has extensive experience of collaborating digitally, with regular online meetings. This is how they worked long before the pandemic struck, since the project is a collaboration between more than 100 partner institutions in almost 20 countries, also outside Europe. As part of the project’s investment in responsible research and innovation, special efforts are now being made to digitally include everyone, when so much of the work has moved to the internet.
In the Journal of Responsible Technology, Karin Grasenick and Manuel Guerrero from HBP formulate recommendations based on experiences from the project. Their recommendations concern four areas: How do we facilitate social and family life? How do we reduce stress and anxiety? How do we handle career stages, roles and responsibilities? How do we support team spirit and virtual cooperation?
Read the concise article! You will recognize your work situation and be inspired by the suggestions. Even after the pandemic, online collaboration will occur.
Karin Grasenick, Manuel Guerrero, Responsible Research and Innovation& Digital Inclusiveness during Covid-19 Crisis in the Human Brain Project (HBP), Journal of Responsi-ble Technology(2020), doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrt.2020.06.001
Given this enormous and growing self-knowledge, why do we not develop artificial intelligence that supports a morally limping humanity? Why spend so much resources on developing even more intelligent artificial intelligence, which takes our jobs and might one day threaten humanity in the form of uncontrollable superintelligence? Why do we behave so unwisely when we could develop artificial intelligence to help us humans become superethical?
How can AI make morally weak humans super-ethical? The authors suggest a comparison with the fitness apps that help people to exercise more efficiently and regularly than they otherwise would. The authors’ suggestion is that our ethical knowledge of moral theories, combined with our growing scientific knowledge of moral weaknesses, can support the technological development of moral crutches: wise objects that support people precisely where we know that we are morally limping.
My personal assessment of this utopian proposal is that it might easily be realized in less utopian form. AI is already widely used as a support in decision-making. One could imagine mobile apps that support consumers to make ethical food choices in the grocery shop. Or computer games where consumers are trained to weigh different ethical considerations against each another, such as animal welfare, climate effects, ecological effects and much more. Nice looking presentations of the issues and encouraging music that make it fun to be moral.
The philosophical question I ask is whether such artificial decision support in shops and other situations really can be said to make humanity wiser and more ethical. Imagine a consumer who chooses among the vegetables, eagerly looking for decision support in the smartphone. What do you see? A human who, thanks to the mobile app, has become wiser than Socrates, who lived long before we knew as much about ourselves as we do today?
Ethical fitness apps are conceivable. However, the risk is that they spread a form of self-knowledge that flies above ourselves: self-knowledge suspiciously similar to the moral vice of self-satisfied presumptuousness.
Allegedly, there are over 12.000 so-called predatory journals out there. Instead of supporting readers and science, these journals serve their own economic interests first and at best offer dubious merits for scholars. We believe that scholars working in any academic discipline have a professional interest and a responsibility to keep track of these journals. It is our job to warn the young or inexperienced of journals where a publication or editorship could be detrimental to their career and science is not served.
We have seen “predatory” publishing take off in a big way and noticed how colleagues start to turn up in the pages of some of these journals. While many have assumed that this phenomenon mainly is a problem for low-status universities, there are strong indications that predatory publishing is a part of a major trend towards the industrialization of misconduct and that it affects many top-flight research institutions (see Priyanka Pulla: “In India, elite institutes in shady journals”, Science 354(6319): 1511-1512).
The latest effort to create a thorough blacklist comes from Cabells, who distinguish around 70 different unacceptable violations and employs a whole team reviewing journals. These lists are not, however, the final say on the matter, as it is impossible for one person or a limited group to judge reliably actors in every academic discipline. Moreover, since only questionable journals are listed, the good journals must be found elsewhere.
A response of gatekeeping needs to be anchored in each discipline and the scholars who make up that discipline. As a suitable response in bioethics, we have chosen to, first, collect a few authoritative lists of recommended bioethics journals that can be consulted by anyone in bioethics to find good journals to publish with.
For our first post, we recommended a list of journals ourselves, which brought on some well-deserved questions and criticism about criteria for inclusion. Unfortunately then, our list ultimately drew attention from other parts of the message that we were more concerned to get across. Besides, there are many other parties making such lists. We, therefore, have dropped this feature. Instead, we have enlarged the collection of good journal lists to the service of our readers. They are all of great use when further exploring the reputable journals available:
It is of prime importance to list the journals that are potentially or possibly predatory or of such a low quality that it might be dishonoring to engage with them. We have listed all 50 of them alphabetically (eleven new entries for 2019, two have ceased operation and been removed), and provided both the homepage URL and links to any professional discussion of these journals that we have found (which most often alerted us to their existence in the first place).
Each of these journals asks scholars for manuscripts from, or claims to publish papers in bioethics or related areas (such as practical philosophy). They have been reviewed by the authors of this blog post as well as by a group of reference scholars that we have asked for advice on the list. Those journals listed have unanimously been agreed are journals that – in light of the criticism put forth and the quality we see – we would not deem acceptable for us to publish in. Typical signs as to why a journal could fall in this category, such as extensive spamming, publishing in almost any subject, or fake data being included on the website etc., are listed here:
We have started to more systematically evaluate the journals against the 25 defining characteristics we outlined in the article linked to above (with the help of science and technology PhD students). The results will be added when they exist.
We would love to hear about your views on this blog post, and be especially grateful for pointers to journals engaging in sloppy or bad publishing practices. The list is not meant as a check-list but as a starting point for any bioethics scholar to ponder for him- or herself where to publish.
Also, anyone thinking that a journal in our list should be given due reconsideration might post their reasons for this as a comment to the blog post or send an email to us. Journals might start out with some sloppy practices but shape up over time and we will be happy to hear about it. You can make an appeal against the inclusion of a journal and we will deal with it promptly and publicly.
Please spread the content of this blog as much as you can and check back for updates (we will do a major update annually and continually add any further information found).
Note to readers: The list contained on Stop Predatory Journals has been down for while and it seems the domain now is for sale. From 2022 any reference to journals/publishers being included on SPJ refers to their previous inclusion. We will gradually check for inclusion in the most prominent list presently available, Cabells’ Predatory Reports, as a alternative.
WHERE NOT TO PUBLISH IN BIOETHICS – THE 2020 LIST
Advanced Humanities & Social Sciences (Consortium Publisher) Critical remark (2018): It has been claimed that behind this journal you find OMICS, the most-ever discussed publisher of this kind, see http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/predatory-publisher-expanding-empire-in-canada. The only article published in 2016 is very badly edited, all the references are lost in the text and the paper would not pass an exam at our departments. 2017 volume is again only one article. The publisher is listed on SPJ. Critical remark (2022). After a complaint from the publisher, we have checked the latest volume. An article like this one shows no evident editorial work on the paper at all, so we still regard the journal to be a low quality outlet for research.
Advances In Medical Ethics (Longdom Publishing) Critical remark (2019): When asked, one editor attest to the fact that his editorship was forged. Publisher was on Beall’s list and is now listed at Cabells with 5 violations. A thorough review December 2019 concludes that it exhibits at least 7 of the 25 criteria for “predatory” journals. A more recent review (2022) concludes that it exhibits about 17 such criteria.
American Open Ethics Journal (Research and Knowledge Publication) Critical remark (2019): Listed on Cabells with 7 violations. A thorough review February 2020 concludes that it exhibits at least 11 of the 25 criteria for “predatory” journals.
Annals of Bioethics & Clinical Applications (Medwin Publishers) Criticism 1 │ Criticism 2 Critical remark (2019): Publisher was on Beall’s list and is on many other lists of these journals. They say that they are “accepting all type of original works that is related to the disciplines of the journal” and indeed the flow chart of manuscript handling does not have a reject route. Indexed by alternative indexes. Critical remark (2020): Listed on Cabells with 5 violations. A thorough review October 2020 concludes that it exhibits at least 9 of the 25 criteria for “predatory” journals.
Austin Journal of Genetics and Genomic Research(Austin Publishing Group) Criticism 1 │Criticism 2 │Criticism 3 Critical remark (2017): Spam e-mail about special issue on bioethics; Listed by SPJ; Romanian editorial member is said to be from a university in “Europe”; Another editorial board member is just called “Michael”; APG has been sued by International Association for Dental Research and The American Association of Neurological Surgeons for infringing on their IP rights. Student reviews concludes the journal is not suitable to publish in, one finding that the journal exhibits at least 16 of the 25 criteria for “predatory” journals. Critical remark (2019): Listed by Cabells with 10 violations. Critical remark (2021): A thorough review concludes that the journals exhibits at least 13 of the 25 criteria for “predatory” journals.
British Open Journal of Ethics (British Open Research Publications) Critical remark (2019): Listed by Cabells with 6 violations. Critical remark (2022): A thorough review concludes that the journal exhibit many criteria for “predatory” journals, for example that no editorial board exists and the journal is not indexed, and that it is strongly recommended to avoid “publishing” with this journal.
Creative Education (Scientific Research Publishing – SCIRP) Criticism 1 │ Criticism 2 Critical remark (2017): Listed by SPJ; They claim misleadingly to be indexed by ISI but this relates to be among cited articles only – they are not indexed. A thorough review May 2017 concludes that it exhibits at least 5 of the 25 criteria for “predatory” journals.
East European Scientific Journal (East European Research Alliance) Critical remark (2017): Listed by SPJ; Criticised by Beall for having a bogus editorial board; Claims to be indexed by ISI but that is not the well-known Institute for Scientific Information (now Thompson Reuters), but rather the so-called International Scientific Indexing. Thorough reviews November 2018 and February 2019 conclude that it exhibits at least 13 or 14 of the 25 criteria for “predatory” journals.
Ethics Today Journal (Franklin Publishing) Critical remark (2019): Listed by Cabells with 9 violations.
European Academic Research (Kogaion Publishing Center, formerly Bridge Center) Critical remark (2017): Listed by SPJ; Uses impact factor from Universal Impact Factor (now defunct); A thorough review May 2017 concludes that it exhibits at least 15 of the 25 criteria for “predatory” journals.
European Scientific Journal (European Scientific Institute) Critical remark (2017): Listed by SPJ; Use of alternative indexes. A thorough review May 2017 concludes that it exhibits at least 9 of the 25 criteria for “predatory” journals.
International Journal of Contemporary Research & Review Critical remark (2017): Listed by SPJ; Indexed by Index Copernicus; Despite claims they seem not to be indexed by either Chemical Abstracts or DOAJ. A thorough review June 2017 concludes that it exhibits at least 9 of the 25 criteria for “predatory” journals.
International Journal of Current Research Criticism 1 Critical remark (2017): Listed by SPJ; Uses IF from SJIF and Index Copernicus and more. It wrongly claims to be indexed by Thomson Reuters, ORCID and having a DOI among other things. A thorough review January 2018 concludes that it exhibits at least 12 of the 25 criteria for “predatory” journals.
International Journal of Current Research and Academic Review (Excellent Publishers) Critical remark (June 2018): Listed by SPJ and Cabells because of misleading claims about credentials, metrics, and too quick review; alternative indexing; publishes in almost any field imaginable; the editor -in-chief is head of the “Excellent Education and Researh Institute” (sic) which does not seem to exist even when spelled right? A thorough review in December 2019 concludes that it exhibits at least 12 of the 25 criteria for “predatory journals”.
International Journal of Ethics & Moral Philosophy (Journal Network) Critical remark (2017): Listed by SPJ; Publisher was criticized by Beall when launching 350 journals at once; After several years not one associate editor has signed up and no article has been published; No editorial or contact details available. Thorough reviews in May 2019 and February 2020 conclude that it exhibits at least 10 to 12 of the 25 criteria for “predatory journals”.
International Journal of Ethics in Engineering & Management Education Critical remark (2019): Papers from almost any field; Claims to have a 5.4 Impact factor (from IJEEE); Indexed by GJIF etc. A non-existent address in “Varginia”, US (sic!); Open access but asks for the copyright; Claims to be indexed in Scopus can’t be verified. Thorough reviews February 2018 and February 2020 conclude that it exhibits at least 16-17 of the 25 criteria for “predatory” journals. Listed by Cabells with 11 violations found.
International Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences Critical remark (2017): Listed by SPJ; Has an amazing fast-track review option for $100 that guarantees “the review, editorial decision, author notification and publication” to take place “within 2 weeks”. “Editors” claim that repeated requests to be removed from the list of editors result in nothing. Thorough reviews in February and June 2018 conclude that it seems to exhibit at least 7 to 10 of the 25 criteria for “predatory” journals.
International Journal of Humanities & Social Studies Critical remark (2017): Listed by SPJ; IF from International Impact Factor Services; States that there “is no scope of correction after the paper publication”. Critical remark (2018): They write that the “review process will be completed expectedly within 3-4 days”. Critical remark (2020): A thorough review in October 2020 concludes that it seems to exhibit at least 7-8 of the 25 criteria for “predatory” journals.
International Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues (Jacobs Publishers) Criticism 1 Critical remark (2019): Spamming with invitation to publish. They are unsure of their own name; in the e-mail they call the journal “International Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Affairs“! Publisher listed on SPJ. Editor-in-chief and editorial board are missing. Claims that material is “written by leading scholars” which is obviously false.
International Journal of Philosophy (SciencePG) Criticism 1 │ Criticism 2 Critical remark (2017): Listed by SPJ; Alternative indexing and also IF from Universal Impact Factor (now defunct); Promises a two-week peer review. Thorough reviews in April and November 2018 conclude that it seems to exhibit at least 10 or 8 of the 25 criteria for “predatory” journals and also find obvious examples of pseudo-science among the published articles.
International Journal of Philosophy and Theology(American Research Institute for Policy Development) Criticism 1 │Criticism 2 │ Criticism 3 Critical remark: A thorough review in June 2018 concludes that “there are grounds to believe that the American Research Institute never intended to create a serious scientific periodical and that, on the contrary, its publications are out-and-out predatory journals.” Update (2022): A thorough review in June concludes that it seems to exhibit at least 9 of the 25 criteria for “predatory” journals. However, the website could not be accessed on June 21.
International Journal of Research in Humanities and Social Studies (Sryahwa Publications) Critical remark (2017): Listed on SPJ; Open access but asks for the copyright. A thorough review in April 2018 concludes that it seems to exhibit at least 9 of the 25 criteria for “predatory” journals. Update (2022): A June review again confirmed that it seems to exhibit at least 9 of the 25 criteria for “predatory” journals.
International Journal of Social Science and Humanities Research (Research Publish Journals) Critical remark (2017): Listed on SPJ; On their homepage they state that in order to get a high IF their journals are “indexed in top class organisation around the world” although no major index is used. A thorough review in 2020 concludes that it seems to exhibit at least 14 of the 25 criteria for “predatory” journals.
International Open Journal of Philosophy (Academic and Scientific Publishing) Critical remark (2017): Listed on SPJ and was heavily critized on Beall’s blog; The editorial board consists of one person from Iran; Although boosting 12 issues a year they have published only 1 article in the journal’s first four years; A thorough review March 1 2017 concludes that it exhibits 17 of the 25 criteria for “predatory” journals and one in March 2019 that it exhibits at least 13 criteria.
International Researchers Critical remark (2017): Listed on SPJ; Indexed by e.g. Index Copernicus; Claims that it is “Monitor by Thomson Reuters” but is not part of the TR journal citation reports; Several pages are not working at time of review; A thorough review April 24 2017 concludes that it exhibits at least 6 of the 25 criteria for “predatory” journals.
Journal of Academic and Business Ethics (Academic and Business Research Institute) Critical remark (2017): Listed on SPJ as well as several other blacklists; Journal seems uncertain about it’s own name, the header curiously says “Journal of ethical and legal issues”. Update 2021: A thorough review May 2021 concludes that it exhibits at least 7 of the 25 criteria for “predatory” journals.
Journal of Bioethics and Applications (Sci Forschen) Critical remark (2018): Brand new journal with no articles yet. Publisher has been criticized for spamming more than once, have a bad record at Scam Analyze, and is listed on SPJ. Critical remark (2022): A thorough review March 2022 concludes that it exhibits at least 7 of the 25 criteria for “predatory” journals.
Journal of Philosophy and Ethics (Sryahwa Publications) Critical remark (2019): listed by Cabells for 7 violations. Critical remark 2020): A thorough review October 2020 concludes that it exhibits at least 11 of the 25 criteria for “predatory” journals.
Journal of Research in Philosophy and History (Scholink) Criticism 1 Critical remark (June 2018): Listed on several lists of predatory publishers. They only do “peer review” through their own editorial board, a flowchart states. They claim to check for plagiarism but the first 2018 article abstract run by us through a checker turned out to be self-plagiarized from a book and it looks to have been published many times over. Unfortunately, the next paper checked in the same issue was also published the previous year by another journal listed here… Critical remark (March 2021): A thorough review concludes that it exhibits at least 14 of the 25 criteria for “predatory” journals.
Journal of Studies in Social Sciences and Humanities Critical remark (2017): Listed on SPJ; Alternative indexing; Uses several alternative IF providers. A thorough review October 2017 concludes that it exhibits at least 9 of the 25 criteria for “predatory” journals. Critical remark (2020): A thorough review October 2020 concludes that it exhibits at least 4 of the 25 criteria for “predatory” journals.
JSM Health Education and Primary Health Care Spamming with invitation to special issue on ‘Bioethics’. The publisher is listed on SPJ, and criticized and exposed here. It is indexed by spoof indexer Directory of Research Journals Indexing among others (whose website is now gone, BTW). Update 2019: Access denied because of non-secure connection.
Medical Ethics and Communication (Avid Science) Criticism 1 Critical remarks (2017): Listed on SPJ; Spamming researchers with offer of eBook publication for $350. Update: In June 2022, the journal cannot be accessed online.
Nova Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences Criticism 1 Critical remark (2018): This publisher was on Beall’s list; Uses alternative impact factors and indexing; Publishes in less than 30 days; Curiously, it says no fee is charged for publication. Update: In June 2022, the journal cannot be accessed online.
Open Journal for Studies in Philosophy (Center for Open Access in Science) Critical remark (2020): Cabells found 8 violations. Update: Thorough reviews May-June 2022 concludes that it exhibits at least 8-9 of the 25 criteria for “predatory” journals.
Philosophical Papers and Review (Academic Journals) Critical remark (2017): Listed on SPJ and blacklisted by the Ministry of Higher Education of Malaysia. Update (2021): Latest article in press was accepted the same day it was sent in – and it happened back in 2018! Update: A thorough review April 2022 concludes that it exhibits at least 10 of the 25 criteria for “predatory” journals.
Philosophy Study (David Publishing Company) Criticism 1 │ Criticism 2 Critical remark (2017): Listed on SPJ. A thorough review October 2019 concludes that it exhibits approx. 8 of the 25 criteria for “predatory” journals.
The Recent Advances in Academic Science Journal (Swedish Scientific Publications) Critical remark (2018): Despite the publisher’s name it seems based in India. The only Swedish editor’s existence cannot be verified. Website quality is lacking. Listed on SPJ. A thorough review October 2017 concludes that it exhibits at least 15 of the 25 criteria for “predatory” journals.
Universal Open Ethics Journal (Adyan Academic Press) Critical remark (2019): listed by Cabells for 7 violations. Update: Thorough reviews in May 2022 concludes that it exhibits 13 to 20 of the 25 criteria for “predatory” journals.
In light of recent legal action taken against people trying to warn others about dubious publishers and journals – see here and here, for example – we want to stress that this blog post is about where we would like our articles to show up, it is about quality, and as such it is an expression of a professional judgement intended to help authors find good journals with which to publish.
Indirectly, this may also help readers to be more discerning about the articles they read. As such it is no different from other rankings that can be found for various products and services everywhere. Our list of where not to publish implies no accusation of deception or fraud but claims to identify journals that experienced bioethicists would usually not find to be of high quality. Those criticisms linked to might be more upfront or confrontational; us linking to them does not imply an endorsement of any objectionable statement made therein. We would also like to point out that individual papers published in these journals might of course nevertheless be perfectly acceptable contributions to the scholarly literature of bioethics.
Essential resources on so-called predatory publishing and open access:
Autonomy is such a cherished concept in ethics that I hardly dare to write about it. The fact that the concept cherishes the individual does not make my task any easier. The slightest error in my use of the term, and I risk being identified as an enemy perhaps not of the people but of the individual!
In ethics, autonomy means personal autonomy: individuals’ ability to govern their own lives. This ability is constantly at risk of being undermined. It is undermined if others unduly influence your decisions, if they control you. It is also undermined if you are not sufficiently well informed and rational. For example, if your decisions are based on false or contradictory information, or if your decisions result from compulsions or weakness of the will. It is your faculty of reason that should govern your life!
In an article in BMC Medical Ethics, Amal Matar, who has a PhD at CRB, discusses decision-making situations in healthcare where this individual-centered concept of autonomy seems less useful. It is about decisions made not by individuals alone, but by people together: by couples planning to become parents.
A couple planning a pregnancy together is expected to make joint decisions. Maybe about genetic tests and measures to be taken if the child risks developing a genetic disease. Here, as always, the healthcare staff is responsible for protecting the patients’ autonomy. However, how is this feasible if the decision is not made by individuals but jointly by a couple?
Personal autonomy is an idealized concept. No man is an island, it is said. This is especially evident when a couple is planning a life together. If a partner begins to emphasize his or her personal autonomy, the relationship probably is about to disintegrate. An attempt to correct the lack of realism in the idealized concept has been to develop ideas about relational autonomy. These ideas emphasize how individuals who govern their lives are essentially related to others. However, as you can probably hear, relational autonomy remains tied to the individual. Amal Matar therefore finds it urgent to take a further step towards realism concerning joint decisions made by couples.
Can we talk about autonomy not only at the level of the individual, but also at the level of the couple? Can a couple planning a pregnancy together govern their life by making decisions that are autonomous not only for each one of them individually, but also for them together as a couple? This is Amal Matar’s question.
Inspired by how linguistic meaning is conceptualized in linguistic theory as existing not only at the level of the word, but also at the level of the sentence (where words are joined together), Amal Matar proposes a new concept of couple autonomy. She suggests that couples can make joint decisions that are autonomous at both the individual and the couple’s level.
She proposes a three-step definition of couple autonomy. First, both partners must be individually autonomous. Then, the decision must be reached via a communicative process that meets a number of criteria (no partner dominates, sufficient time is given, the decision is unanimous). Finally, the definition allows one partner to autonomously transfer aspects of the decision to the other partner.
The purpose of the definition is not a philosophical revolution in ethics. The purpose is practical. Amal Matar wants to help couples and healthcare professionals to speak realistically about autonomy when the decision is a couple’s joint decision. Pretending that separate individuals make decisions in parallel makes it difficult to realistically assess and support the decision-making process, which is about interaction.
Amal Matar concludes the article, written together with Anna T. Höglund, Pär Segerdahl and Ulrik Kihlbom, with describing two cases. The cases show concretely how her definition can help healthcare professionals to assess and support autonomous decision-making at the level of the couple. In one case, the couple’s autonomy is undermined, in the other case, probably not.
Read the article as an example of how we sometimes need to modify cherished concepts to enable a realistic use of them.
Academic research is driven by dissemination of results to peers at conferences and through publication in scientific journals. However, research results belong not only to the research community. They also belong to society. Therefore, results should reach not only your colleagues in the field or the specialists in adjacent fields. They should also reach outside the academy.
Who is out there? A homogeneous public? No, it is not that simple. Communicating research is not two activities: first communicating the science to peers and then telling the popular scientific story to the public. Outside the academy, we find engineers, entrepreneurs, politicians, government officials, teachers, students, research funders, taxpayers, healthcare professionals… We are all out there with our different experiences, functions and skills.
Research communication is therefore a strategically more complicated task than just “reaching the public.” Why do you want to communicate your results; why are they important? Who will find your results important? How do you want to communicate them? When is the best time to communicate? There is not just one task here. You have to think through what the task is in each particular case. For the task varies with the answers to these questions. Only when you can think strategically about the task can you communicate research responsibly.
Josepine Fernow’s contribution is, in my view, more than a convincing argument. It is an eye-opening text that helps researchers see more clearly their diverse relationships to society, and thereby their responsibilities. The academy is not a rock of knowledge in a sea of ignorant lay people. Society consists of experienced people who, because of what they know, can benefit from your research. It is easier to think strategically about research communication when you survey your relations to a diversified society that is already knowledgeable. Josepine Fernow’s argumentation helps and motivates you to do that.
Josepine Fernow also warns against exaggerating the significance of your results. Bioscience has potential to give us effective treatments for serious diseases, new crops that meet specific demands, and much more. Since we are all potential beneficiaries of such research, as future patients and consumers, we may want to believe the excessively wishful stories that some excessively ambitious researchers want to tell. We participate in a dangerous game of increasingly unrealistic hopes.
The name of this dangerous game is hype. Research hype can make it difficult for you to continue your research in the future, because of eroded trust. It can also make you prone to take unethical shortcuts. The “huge potential benefit” obscures your judgment as a responsible researcher.
Responsible research communication is as important as difficult. Therefore, these tasks deserve our greatest attention. Read Josepine Fernow’s argumentation for carefully planned communication strategies. It will help you see more clearly your responsibility.
During the last phase of the Human Brain Project, the activities on this blog received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation under the Specific Grant Agreement No. HBP SGA3 - Human Brain Project Specific Grant Agreement 3 (945539). The views and opinions expressed on this blog are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Commission.