AEJMC Statement on Open-Access Electronic Journals and Nuisance Lawsuits

April 9, 2013 | The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) is committed to unbridled scholarly inquiry and criticism. Academic freedom is essential to building the applicable theory that adds to journalism and mass communication knowledge. Evaluation is requisite to this scientific method. And the integrity of journalism and mass communication research should be rigorously evaluated before its publication in peer-reviewed journals.

Such integrity is currently challenged by the recent proliferation of open-access electronic journals that charge author fees for publication, including those that have been described as “predatory.” The standards of manuscript acceptance for these predatory journals may lack rigor, and the quality of their articles may bear scrutiny.

Librarians who monitor the integrity of scholarly journals and bloggers who criticize the predatory nature of some open-access journals have been intimidated with unmerited lawsuits by some of these journal publishers.

Abusive attempts to muzzle unfavorable scholarly evaluations and criticisms carry grave ramifications for librarians and scholars who may express negative opinions about the quality of these journals. Such attempts pose a real and perceived threat to those in the scholarly community. Most likely to be gagged are those who assess professional journals and the institutions that employ journal authors and editors who may criticize these predatory journals. Equally susceptible are the journalism and mass communication programs that employ the communication scholars who may question these publication venues.

AEJMC reaffirms its fundamental belief in the compelling need for academic freedom that underlies evaluation and criticism of the quality of research and of the journals for this research. AEJMC pledges its unwavering support and defense of those who face litigational intimidations in connection with their candid evaluation of research and journals and whose assessment is essential to journalism and mass communication scholarship.

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