One of my favorite scenes from the Simpsons is where bartender Moe sets up a fake upscale looking entrance to his bar to try and attract more customers. After entering the bar the upscale customer says, “Hey, this isn’t faux dive. This is a dive,” to which Moe responds, “You’re a long way from home, yuppie-boy. I’ll start a tab.”
With just a few word changes and the same idea could be expressed about fake academic journals. This has been a topic of discussion for the last few years in the library world. The New York Times has an interesting and more mainstream article addressing the issue of fake journals and fake academic conferences.
In the article “Fake Academe, Looking Much Like the Real Thing” Kevin Carey, describes how he was contacted via phone call to attend a conference in Philadelphia a mere 20 minutes after he entered his information on a website. Carey also goes on to describe how many of these real sounding “associations” can have shady if not outright illegal dealings and offer little to no academic rigor for paper submissions.
Unfortunately we live in a time when what is faux dive and real dive is getting harder and harder to determine. Lots of people have fallen prey to fake news by re-posting the stories on the social media accounts. People need to do more investigating to determine legitimate sources of information (news or academic). However, we also live in a time where people often feel too rushed to do that. Everything must be done NOW! Wait for an article to come via ILL? Nope just find another one that is available online that can.
Unlike falling prey to fake news on social media, the fake “scholarly” associations, publications, etc. might cause the researcher more time and money than if they had slowed down and investigated things. I know there are librarians who actively help their researchers avoid questionable publishers. My guess though is that for every researcher a librarian helps there is another who falls victim. Hopefully more mainstream stories like this will help alert others to do a little more digging.
Written at last week’s Internet Librarian 2015 Conference
A conference’s opening keynote address is kind of like the first day of school. You sit excitedly wondering what the experience is going to bring, anxiously chatting with your neighbor about what sessions you plan to attend. Looking around you size up the crowd: the diehard tweeters in the front, the laid-back cool kids leisurely skimming their conference programs, and the super hip girl in the back row wearing red tights who you hope will be your new best friend. As we settled into our seats in the hotel ballroom, we expected a lot. No pressure, but the opening session lays the foundation for the rest of the conference.
The opening keynote address at this year’s Internet Librarian 2015 Conference did not disappoint. The panel of female entrepreneurs discussed the topic “Exploring Roles & Directions: Creating, Failing, Learning.” Ilana Ben-Ari of Twenty One Toys, Liza Conrad of Hopscotch, and Erin Mulcahy of littleBits discussed their experiences in start-ups and how what they’ve learned can transfer to the library world.
One highlight from the panel is when Lisa Conrad from Hopscotch, an app that teaches kids coding through building games, told the story of a teacher who said there was inappropriate material on the app. She complained that her students were using the poop emoji too much, and she was deleting the app. Worried, the folks at Hopscotch banded together to find a solution to the problem. After some thought, they soon realized there wasn’t a problem. The kids were using the app and learning how to code – that’s the whole goal! They concluded that poop is OK. If the users like poop, then they should have poop!
What can librarians take away from this anecdote? The Hopscotch staff looked at the situation through the lens of the user. They asked the questions, “Who is this helping? Who is this serving? What do they want?” They based their choices on the people who matter most – their users. As librarians, it’s easy to get bogged down by the day-to-day and forget who we serve. Like at Hopscotch, we need to reevaluate the standards people hold us to and remember why we’re here- for our users.