Open Access Article Quality: Error Rates in References as an Indicator
Open Access Article Quality: Error Rates in References as an Indicator Joseph R. Kraus Penrose Library, University of Denver @jokrausdu Presentation for the Library 2.012 Conference October 4, 2012
Introduction• There are some individuals and publishers who claim that Open Access journals are lower quality compared to traditionally published journals. – “PLoS is teetering on the edge of becoming viewed as a low‐quality, high‐volume publisher — a far cry from the promise the initiative once held.” (Kent Anderson, Scholarly Kitchen, April 27, 2010) – There is a “perception that open‐access journals are of lower quality than traditional publications.” (Josh Fischman, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 8, 2011)
Journal Quality vs Article Quality• The impact factor is often touted as an indicator of journal quality. That number provides the average number of citations to articles in the journal over a two year span.• It is difficult to evaluate the quality of individual journal articles. The presenter considers another method to determine a quality of individual articles.
The study• Compare the error rates from the reference sections of four Open Access articles (PLOS ONE) with four articles from a commercial publisher’s journal (Stem Cell Research from Elsevier).• This could be considered a method to determine the carefulness of authors, and hence, a quality indicator of individual articles.
Background• In earlier research, Mandy Taha and I found that reference section error rates were similar between a couple of Open Access journal articles and many commercial‐based journal articles. – 2 articles were OA while another 13 articles were from a two different commercial publishers (Elsevier and Springer) – This was a not the focus of the research at the time.
Other research on error rates• Article Reference Accuracy in Peer‐Reviewed Pediatric Orthopaedic Literature (26%)• Accuracy of references in the ophthalmic literature (16%)• Accuracy of references in general surgical journals — An old problem revisited (11.1%)• The accuracy of references in paediatric journals (29.7%)• Citation and quotation accuracy in three anatomy journals (27%)• The accuracy of citation and quotation in otolaryngology/head and neck surgery journals (37.5%)• Reference List Accuracy in Social Work Journals (41.2%)
What I evaluated?• 4 recent OA articles in the field of stem cells from the journal, PLOS ONE• The IF of PLOS ONE is 4.092 (12th out of 84 in Biology)• 4 recent articles from the journal Stem Cell Research (published commercially by Elsevier)• The IF of Stem Cell Research is 5.127 (48th out of 180 in Cell Biology)
PLOS ONE articles• Dopaminergic Neurons from Midbrain‐Specified Human Embryonic Stem Cell‐Derived Neural Stem Cells Engrafted in a Monkey Model of Parkinson’s Disease (53 references)• Generation of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells from the Prairie Vole (56 references)• Amniotic Mesenchymal Stem Cells Enhance Wound Healing in Diabetic NOD/SCID Mice through High Angiogenic and Engraftment Capabilities (45 references)• Pleiotropy of Glycogen Synthase Kinase‐3 Inhibition by CHIR99021 Promotes Self‐Renewal of Embryonic Stem Cells from Refractory Mouse Strains (54 references)• 208 reference total
Stem Cell Research articles• Sonic hedgehog released from scratch‐injured astrocytes is a key signal necessary but not sufficient for the astrocyte de‐differentiation (38 references)• A novel variant of Oct3/4 gene in mouse embryonic stem cells (40 references)• DUXO, a novel double homeobox transcription factor, is a regulator of the gastrula organizer in human embryonic stem cells (34 references)• Proton‐gated ion channels in mouse bone marrow stromal cells (41 references)• 153 references total
Results• PLOS ONE, 7 errors within 208 references (3.4%) – Volume and page information – Book editor, EYS instead of EY Snyder – Author, Kim KS instead of Kim K‐S – Author, Bergstorm instead of Bergstrom – Only one author, et al., instead of listing the first five authors and then et al. – No year – Author, Nutter LM instead of Nutter LMJ
Results• Stem Cell Research, 9 errors within 153 references (5.9%) – 3 wrong Last names, Kaya should be Sahin Kaya; Altaba should be Ruiz i Altaba; Peter, H. should be Holzer, P. – 3 Wrong page numbers – Wrong volume number – Missing author – Wrong article number
Findings• Authors who write for PLOS ONE seem to be just as careful with formatting their references as authors who write for the Elsevier journal, maybe even more so.
Items not considered errors or typos• PLoS One close enough to PLOS ONE• Brustle instead of Brüstle• Munoz‐Sanjuan instead of Muñoz‐Sanjuán• In a cited paper, the first author is listed as Da Wei Huang. PubMed lists the author as Huang da W. But, where should the comma go in the reference list? Should it be Huang, da W. or Huang da, W.?
Notes• For the PLOS ONE articles, I could not use the Web of Science to show me which ones might have incorrect information – The reference with Bergstorm went to the correct reference with Bergstrom.• For the Stem Cell Research articles, I could use the Scopus system to indicate which references might be incorrect. – If I saw that a reference was cited 0‐3 times in Scopus, I would double check the information in that reference. – There could be even more errors in these four Stem Cell Research articles than what I initially found.
More notes• I may not have caught all of the errors concerning hyphenated first names. (Smith AB should have been listed at Smith A‐B)• PLOS Authors correctly cited others that had difficult to spell last names, such as Bandyopadhyay• PLOS Authors correctly kept British words in titles (behaviour) • PLOS Authors correctly cited this Lancet article.
Questions for the audience, 1 of 2• Should I expand this research to include: – More articles from PLOS? – Articles from other OA publishers such as BMC or Hindawi or others? – Articles from Springer or Wiley or others?
Questions for the audience, 2 of 2• What are other ways to indicate article quality? – Numbers of citations via WOS and Google Scholar. Been there, done that.