From guide dogs to guard dogs, and from police dogs to search-and-rescue dogs, we are used to our canine friends helping us out in the world of work. But a Staffordshire Terrier called Ollie (picture posed by model) has taken on a new and surprisingly cerebral role, by joining the editorial boards of seven medical journals.
In a blog post on MJA InSight, Ollie’s owner Mike Daube, Professor of Health Policy at Curtin University in Perth, describes becoming frustrated over the number of emails he received from so-called predatory journals inviting him to submit papers. These ‘pseudo-journals’ are online publications willing to publish articles with little or no peer review, in exchange for substantial fees. Out of curiosity, Professor Daube decided to send a CV on behalf of Ollie to some of these journals, and found that the majority happily accepted Ollie onto their editorial boards.
The questionable standards of predatory journals, which do not conform to industry codes of conduct such as those of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), have been well documented. But Ollie’s recruitment also highlights wider concerns over research integrity, with some fearing that increasing pressure to publish, amid falling research funding, may be incentivising dubious publication practices. Countering this will require greater transparency in publishing, and ensuring that researchers have the training and resources they need to make informed choices about the likes of predatory journals.