Not news: an Australian unit of Elsevier contracted with drugmakers to publish what appeared to be medical journals that didn’t disclose who had paid for them. In other words, Merck supposedly created a fake peer-reviewed journal to publish data that made its drugs look good. It also got Elsevier to publish the journal to make it look legit (Elsevier being one of the bigger publishers of — of course — proprietary medical journals). This news has been filtered through the internet for a couple of weeks now.
It wasn’t a librarian who discovered the problem, though. Which makes me wonder: is it the role of librarians to examine journals that present themselves as peer reviewed to ensure that they really are? The Progressive Librarians’ Guild thinks we should. Others think it’s not feasible for us to do so. But given that libraries give authority to journals by subscribing to them, don’t we have an ethical responsibility to try to find the fakes?
As my friend Jennifer is wont to say, it’s time we work out what business we’re in and clearly articulate it. I’m not sure I even get it anymore.