Industry Insights MedComms

Industry Insights: MedComms 18 September

Industry Insights: MedComms 18 September

  • Reading time:3 mins read

With the ongoing pressure in the academic world to publish, the term ‘Publish or Perish’ is well known. Here we cover three important and related topics in the industry. We look at the use of embellished language (hyperbolic adjectives) in scientific writing, and publishing in predatory as well as open access (OA) journals. 

In recent decades, the use of exaggerated language (hyperbolic adjectives) to inflate the significance of research findings has surged, particularly in academic publishing and impact case studies. Prof. Ken Hyland’s analysis of 800 impact case studies for the Research Excellence Framework (REF), UK, revealed that hyperbolic language was more common in these studies than in research articles. STEM researchers often highlighted novelty, while social scientists emphasised usefulness and importance. 

Additionally, a study across four scientific fields found a two-fold increase in hyperbolic terms compared to 50 years ago. Prof. Hyland attributes this trend to the pressure to publish as academics are working in a time of intense competition. This suggests a need to re-evaluate publication assessment methods for accuracy, transparency, and a more rigorous academic culture.

Publishing in predatory journals is a persistent issue in open-access publishing and contributed around 420,000 articles in 2014. Author motivations for choosing such journals, explored in Simon Linacre’s book “The Predator Effect (Chapter 7),” remain ambiguous. But, suggested reasons to publish in predatory journals include lack of awareness and unethical incentives linked to career advancement. Nonetheless, a consensus among academics exists that engaging with predatory journals is a misuse of valuable resources, resulting in squandered research efforts and funding. 

These journals could be described as ‘parasitic’, as they have the effect of instantly making researchers’ work unusable and discredited when published in them. Proposed solutions involve educating researchers about predatory journals, implementing open peer review, treating predatory journal publications as misconduct, and tightening regulations to prevent their inclusion in whitelists. 

Scientific knowledge and information should be free and unrestricted, and not hidden behind expensive paywalls. Publishing in Open Access (OA) journals can add value by maximising the discoverability and distribution of your research, through a clear framework for reuse. A study in BMJ estimated that on average OA articles receive 89% more full-text downloads and 23% more unique visitors than articles published under traditional licenses. 

cOAlition S (a group of national research funding organisations, with the support of the European Commission and the European Research Council) have pledged to make full and immediate Open Access to research publications a reality. They recently severed ties with 1,589 journals that were too slow in their shift towards OA. This decision serves as a wake-up call to the scientific community, underlining the urgent need for widespread adoption of OA publishing. Publishers should expedite the transition to OA to remain relevant in the evolving research landscape, enhancing their global reach and research impact.

Elion Medical Communications