Open Access

Issue CoverAs an entomologist, it should be unsurprising that I have a vested interest in journals that provide access to ongoing research in my study field.

The Journal of Insect Science began with funding and support from the University of Arizona’s library in 2001. In 2014, the Entomological Society of America, added this journal to their publication profile. It seeks to publish a wide breadth of research in the field of entomology.

On their information pages of their webpage, they do talk about their open access policy stating that their articles are made available for free online, but they do not elaborate about their reasoning behind it. Based on a quick scanning of the other journals ESA hosts, this journal is the only one which is open access. This absence of elaboration about open access may be due to the lack of open access in the other journals within their portfolio.

How did we get here?

Basic research ethics seem like something that should be second nature. Yet, reading over the ORI (Office of Research Integrity) webpage it seems to trip people up time and time again. When reading over the various summaries of cases of misconduct, it made me wonder how the person who committed the various act of misconduct reached that point. Was there a breaking point which lead to this shift in their moral integrity or was this something that occurred gradually over the course his or her career? Were there bigger things at play than moral lackadaisicalness?

Take for instance, the case of Frank Sauer, a research at U.C. Riverside who falsified images that were included in various grant proposals and publications. At first, it seemed shocking to me that something like that could have occurred, but the more I think about the pressure surrounding academia, the more I think of this as a symptom of a larger problem rather than the rouge actions of one bad character. While I don’t in any way condone falsifying data, the publish or perish culture surrounding academic life must have played into his decision process. It seems to me that we should be taking actions to change the culture to avoid future incidents from occurring. (To be clear, we also have to deal with the symptoms. Data presented as fact should be as close to the truth as possible, or else, society will lose faith in research.) However, the number of cases that the ORI deals with indicates a pressing need for a hard examination of how we ended up here in the first place.

Link to Frank Sauer Case: https://ori.hhs.gov/content/case-summary-sauer-frank