Saturday, November 27

They accuse Castells of vetoing prestigious magazines with a report made by experts in tourism and marketing

«Lack of academic rigor and inappropriate methodology». Thus begins the devastating statement that the German publisher of scientific journals MDPI dedicates to the report of the Aneca (agency dependent on the Ministry of Universities) that contains a red list of prestigious journals (such as Nature, Sciencia or Cell) ‘vetoed’ at the time to evaluate the career of Spanish researchers.

As reported by ABC, the National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation (Aneca), in charge of evaluating, certifying and accrediting teachings, teachers and institutions, made public its general principles and guidelines for the development of evaluation criteria last week. Of the investigation. In them he put in the spotlight well-known and prestigious magazines such as

the aforementioned. The red list of publications is published in an Aneca study called ‘Bibliometric analysis and impact of open-access publishers in Spain ‘ whose methodology and authors have been questioned by MDPI.

«We are surprised and concerned that Aneca establishes the principles for the evaluation of researchers in Spain on the basis of a report with a clear bias against open access journals. In the same way that we do not understand why this report has been prepared by researchers specialized in marketing and tourism, without previous experience in the field of bibliometrics, “MDPI says in the statement.

The Aneca report singles out journals for what their authors call moderate, high and very high “non-standard behavior”. In this last category (very high) appear the aforementioned Science, Nature … Aneca understands as non-standard behavior a high number of citations, a high number of published articles and the MDPI qualifies this methodology as “Perverse”. «The report follows a perverse logic according to which what not standard is considered negative, understanding as standard the mean value in terms of the number and percentage of self-citations, without taking into consideration additional factors that may affect the parameters analyzed. Thus, the analysis is based on a series of statements not contrasted or referenced that authors use to create their own paradigms. ‘

The publisher points out in its statement (published in English and Spanish) that the authors of the Aneca report «assume that a greater number of articles inevitably implies a lower “quality, rigor and degree of contribution and originality” of the same. However, they do not provide any type of evidence or reference to support this claim.

Isidro F. Aguillo, a specialist in bibliometrics at the CSIC’s Institute of Public Policies and Goods, points out that the MDPI “is absolutely right in the criticism it makes of the Aneca report.” In his opinion, “it is incomprehensible that they have turned to a group of people who know about tourism and marketing; I know in Spain at least twenty groups dedicated to bibliometrics and they did not consult any of them ».

Aguillo wonders “why is it going to make it negative that many articles are published, or that there are many self-citations?” Nor does he understand, like MDPI, that the review time is a criterion to take into account when evaluating the quality of the peer review (that is, when a colleague in your same category reviews your article): «The review report should be evaluated for its quality and its contribution to the improvement of the article. We believe that long and unjustifiable publication periods hinder scientific progress and nowhere should agile and rigorous publication be penalized, ”says the publisher.

«The letter from MDPI seems correct to me because the assessment it makes the Aneca come out of recognized prestige and do not explain why they are included in publications with anomalous behavior. Even so, I still think that these evaluations of research activity by pure metrics are simplistic, they take into account only the continent (the journal) and not the content (the impact of the published research) “, he points out Jose Manuel Bautista, researcher and professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Complutense University of Madrid

MDPI has not made this announcement by chance. It is one of the publishers ‘punished’ in the report. Still, the researchers support, not just the content of the release but the publisher itself. «MDPI has existed since the mid-90s, before the so-called ‘predator’ boom, and today it is the publisher that publishes the most open access articles in the world and one of the most used in Spain, “defends Aguillo, who also recognizes that the controversial aspect of this publisher may be its pyramidal system. What does it mean? That they leave their numbers in the hands of the researchers who are allowed to do all the work: edit, search for reviewers, etc.

In August, one of the authors of the Aneca study that is now in the crosshairs of researchers and unions,
published another report, this time against MDPI in which it described as predator
. This is Ángeles Oviedo García, professor at the University of Seville, from the department of Business Administration and Marketing, the first signatory of the Aneca study.

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