All over the world today in every academic discipline there is concern about a decline in the average quality of articles published in academic journals. Because today a larger share of college professors must publish or perish, there has been an increasing demand for journals to publish in. This has led to a proliferation of journals, some of whose standards are low or non-existent.
Academic administrators wielding carrots and sticks to force thousands of professors – some of whom may be excellent teachers – to publish at best mediocre articles that swell the profits of predatory publishers are responsible for a terrible misuse of a substantial amount of human and financial resources.
In a 2017 article published in Forbes magazine Steven Salzberg reported that “recent years have seen the appearance of journals from mainstream publishers that are based entirely on pseudoscience. On the surface, these publications look and act just like real scientific journals, but it’s all just pretend. The publishers of these journals presumably care more about their bottom line than about scientific integrity.”
In August 2018, Britain’s Guardian newspaper published an alarming article which claimed that “a vast ecosystem of predatory publishers is churning out ‘fake science’ for profit.”
After the 1950s, academic journals in business published articles on topics that featured mathematics and academic jargon that caused practitioners to complain about the uselessness of abstract, theoretical academic articles.
Promotions and salary increases at most business schools are primarily based on the number of articles a professor publishes in peer-reviewed “A” class journals or those appearing in journals with the highest impact factor or frequency of citation-counts.
Perhaps if Thorstein Veblen was alive today he would label a lot of today’s academic research “conspicuous scholarship” that benefits a university by enabling it to attract top researchers who make it possible to attract more students because of its resulting high ranking.
The role and quality of academic research is of such enormous, fundamental importance to every academic discipline and society as a whole. Because the objective of Responsible Research in Business & Management is to provide solutions to problems in business school research, it must pay heed to practitioners complaining about the uselessness of abstract theoretical articles published by professors in schools of business and the existence of creditable questions about their quality.
Carole E. Scott, B>Quest’s Editor, is a retired Professor of Economics, Richards College of Business, University of West Georgia. She has a BBA in marketing, a MBA in economics and finance, and a Ph.D. in economics. She has taught courses in each of these disciplines.