Predatory Publications by TRU Professor Pyne (Part 3: TRU Responds)


(Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC)


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CLICK HERE, for Part I, the paper and backstory.
CLICK HERE, for Part II, the Pyne interview

This is Part III of a story involving economics Professor, Derek Pyne. Pyne published a paper studying the economic impacts of “predatory publishing” in academic journals. This led to international attention.

Predatory Journals In Essence
-Mailbox addresses (suites) given in address
-Journal no one has heard of before
-Very quick turnaround times
-Questionable, if any, peer review
-Questionable “Impact Factors Analysis”
-Real journal will provide abstract, fake will make you buy entire article, paywall

Pyne had been suspended in the fall of 2018. He cited several reasons, including this publication. In the interest of fairness, Thompson Rivers University was contacted for their side of the story.

While Professor Pyne agreed to an in person meeting, TRU answered questions by email. Due to privacy and legal concerns the answers were much more restricted than what Prof Pyne had disclosed. Here is that exchange.

1/ Professor Pyne’s paper on “Predatory Journals” must have been unexpected. What is TRU’s response to it?

It is important to understand that research is an independent activity undertaken by faculty and the university is not in the practice of monitoring the publishing activity of its faculty. Professor Pyne has the freedom to publish his research and talk about his research publicly.

2/ Does TRU believe the paper to be factually accurate, or a distortion of academic publishing?

TRU does not take a position on Professor Pyne’s research other than that it supports individual faculty member’s right to research and publish their research, and for this research to be openly debated among the academic community.

3/ Was his suspension in 2018 related to the paper he produced?

The action taken against Professor Pyne was not related to his specific research, the dissemination of his research, or the exercising of his right to academic freedom. The action was related to matters that TRU is unable to comment on due to both employment and privacy law.

4/ Have there been any changes to academic publishing as a result of this release? Reviews on how grants/tenure are awarded?

As previously indicated, research is an independent activity and subject to academic discourse. On the matter of tenure and promotion, any faculty member hired or promoted at TRU goes through a robust process, which involves a review of research activity and publishing credentials. This is a process led by peers, hence, any faculty member at TRU moving through the promotion and tenure process is doing so with the endorsement of their faculty colleagues provincially, nationally, and internationally. Additional information on promotion and tenure can be found on TRU’s website.

https://www.tru.ca/__shared/assets/Principles_and_Essential_Features_of_Standards_Documents23557.pdf

5/ Has any faculty research been given a “second look” as a result of the paper?

As indicated, TRU does not monitor the independent publishing activity of its faculty. However, there are processes built within the university system where such activity is reviewed. For example, at TRU, divisional peer review committees and a university committee of Senate review publishing credentials during the tenure and promotion process of faculty. In addition, each individual faculty council and department, with input from the university’s Senate, determine the criteria for tenure and promotion, which includes close scrutiny of publications. Faculty, chairs and deans are also involved in the hiring of any new faculty, and a review of publishing credentials would be part of that process.

6/ Professor Pyne told me he doesn’t believe the academic union is acting properly in the matter, and it has since gone to Labour Relations. Any comment on that?

TRU cannot speak on behalf of the union.

Predatory Publications by TRU Professor Pyne (Part 2: Meeting The Man)

(Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC)


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See the previous article on the infamous paper by Thompson Rivers University Economic Professor, Derek Pyne.

For a simplified version of the story, Professor Pyne published a paper in April 2017 titled “Predatory publications”. It was a look into the academic publishing, and how fake journals were popping up. Given university professors’ duty to “publish or perish”, these seemed to be a way out.

This is a topic that has been reluctantly addressed by universities before. However, this paper took more of an economic view of the subject — rewards and benefits from publishing in such journals.

The paper has not been well received by Thompson Rivers University, especially since it seemed to implicate members of the faculty. Relations between Professor Pyne and the school have gone downhill.

In September 2018, almost a year and a half later, Professor Pyne was suspended from TRU. He is now back at work. He claims that the paper was one reason, but not the only, for the suspension.

Currently, a complaint has been filed under Section 13 of the Labour Relations Code, claiming the Union violated Section 12. Here is the actual text from the Labour Relations Code (of BC)

Duty of fair representation
12 (1)
A trade union or council of trade unions must not act in a manner that is arbitrary, discriminatory or in bad faith
(a) in representing any of the employees in an appropriate bargaining unit, or
(b) in the referral of persons to employment whether or not the employees or persons are members of the trade union or a constituent union of the council of trade unions.

(2) It is not a violation of subsection (1) for a trade union to enter into an agreement under which
(a) an employer is permitted to hire by name certain trade union members,
(b) a hiring preference is provided to trade union members resident in a particular geographic area, or
(c) an employer is permitted to hire by name persons to be engaged to perform supervisory duties.

(3) An employers’ organization must not act in a manner that is arbitrary, discriminatory or in bad faith in representing any of the employers in the group appropriate for collective bargaining.

Procedure for fair representation complaint
13 (1) If a written complaint is made to the board that a trade union, council of trade unions or employers’ organization has contravened section 12, the following procedure must be followed:
(a) a panel of the board must determine whether or not it considers that the complaint discloses a case that the contravention has apparently occurred;
(b) if the panel considers that the complaint discloses sufficient evidence that the contravention has apparently occurred, it must
(i) serve a notice of the complaint on the trade union, council of trade unions or employers’ organization against which the complaint is made and invite a reply to the complaint from the trade union, council of trade unions or employers’ organization, and
(ii) dismiss the complaint or refer it to the board for a hearing.
(2) If the board is satisfied that the trade union, council of trade unions or employers’ organization contravened section 12, the board may make an order or direction referred to in section 14 (4) (a), (b) or (d).

Canuck Law meeting Professor Pyne

The actual interview occurred on Thursday, January 24 at the University in Kamloops, BC. Note: Questions were prepared, but the replies shown are summaries of what was said.

1/ What did you think would happen publishing this?
-It was a new angle on the publishing industry
-This hadn’t been done before
-Expected a higher amount of support for academic freedom and inquiry

2/ Any support from colleagues?
-Some privately do offer support
-No one wants to be public about it
-This is considered an attack on academic freedom

3/ What actually triggered the suspension?
-Collective agreement allows for feedback for candidates
-I exercised that right. University called it defamatory and accusatory

4/ Why the 16 month delay in the suspension? (April 2017-Sept 2018)
-It took time for the backlash to happen
-Reporting by the New York Times really hurt
-American media interviews were given
-Comments made in online forums
-Research comments

5/ Why isn’t the TRU faculty union helping?
-164 page complaint was filed
-Academic unions don’t work the same way private sector unions do
-Lack of understanding by the union in matters like this

6/ What do you see Labour Relations doing?
-Little. They have a very low success rate
-Since 2016 (records shown), 0 or 1 cases successful each year
-Most “successes” come from informal negotiation between parties

7/ What would you like Labour Relations to do?
-Order the union to file a grievance

8/ How can universities screen for “predatory journals”? What are the warning signs?
-Mailbox addresses (suites) given in address
-Journal no one has heard of before
-Very quick turnaround times
-Questionable, if any, peer review
-Questionable “Impact Factors Analysis”
-Real journal will provide abstract, fake will make you buy entire article, paywall
-There are 10,800 right now identified, another 955 suspected (all fields)

9/ Has this led to policy changes at TRU?
-Might have tipped people off as to what is happening?

10/ Was it difficult to get data for research?
-Time consuming
-Manually searching profiles
-Research Ethics not needed (since no face-to-face interviews)
-Google Scholar quick source (academic publications)
-Checking academic profiles also an option

11/ Does this hurt academia?
-It can lower the trust people have in experts and authority figures

12/ Broadly speaking, how does peer review work?
-You need an idea of which journals to submit to
-You submit your research
-You may have to redo large sections of your paper
-Editor of publication often orders revise & resubmit
-Editor will find referees with similar publications to review yours
-Referees are usually volunteers, it’s more of an honour
-It can easily take a year or two to get published

CBC Propaganda: The Masterlist

Note: This article “wasn’t” actually created in 2012. It is just listed here to make it easier to find. Submissions will be from across several years, selecting the worst from our tax-funded “broadcaster”.

CLICK HERE, for Propaganda #1, Canada must have 100 million people by the year 2100.

CLICK HERE, for Propaganda #2, Europe should have open borders.

CLICK HERE, for Propaganda #3, Islam not responsible for Islamic violence.

CLICK HERE, for Propaganda #4, The Wage Gap.

CLICK HERE, for Propaganda #5: Borders Are Pointless.

CLICK HERE, for Propaganda #6: State Supplied Drugs For Addicts.

CLICK HERE, for Propaganda #7: UN’s Call to Welcome Back ISIS fighters.

CLICK HERE, for Propaganda #8: Walls Are Useless. Don’t Bother.

CLICK HERE, for Propaganda #9: “Conspiring” With Free Speech Activist.