In my turn, I would like to welcome Luděk Brož, Tereza Stöckelová, and Filip Vostal’s (alias “Czech academic witch hunters’”) reflections to my response to their earlier blog post. I have always believed in an argumentative dialogue rather than in spreading around fabrications and accusations using social networks. However, I also found many flaws in their arguments and would like to comment and reflect on some of them here.
For example, Brož, Stöckelová, and Vostal’s wrote:
“We stated in our post that Strielkowski produced 17 monographs; he claims in his response that he “is an author of 6 research monographs (and co-author or editor of several other proceedings).” In our statement, we drew upon the information Strielkowski himself provided on his own website in 2015”.
The list of publications displayed on my own website clearly identified which of my outputs were own monographs and which were the conference proceedings or edited collections of papers. Thence, “Czech academic witch hunters” provided a misleading information. Apart from that, they neglected the fact that all my 6 research monographs (and most of my conference proceedings and edited volumes) were published by the Faculty of Social Sciences which can be easily verified by checking across the ISBNs in the database on the National Library of the Czech Republic.
Overall, doubting the quality of someone’s academic papers does not lead us anywhere (especially if the person works in another field of research). Fabricating information is worse. If ones looks at the earlier post by the “Czech academic witch hunters” she or he can find that Brož, Stöckelová, and Vostal wrote this:
“A substantial amount of his articles were published in journals that could be described, following Beall’s terminology, as “potentially, possibly or probably predatory”.
Actually, if you check my articles in question (all of them are listed in the Scopus database – just type my surname into the field marked as “Author last name”), you will not find a single paper published in one of the journals on the so-called “Beall’s List”. Not a single one! So, what the fuss is all about?
I am not going to comment on the explanation of academic prestige of the Cambridge. It has been clearly stated and remains as it is. What is more interesting is the lead on the Stöckelová’s suspicious activities as the Editor-in-Chief of Sociologický časopis – Czech Sociological Review. Here is how she explains why she publishes her own papers without a peer review in the journals she also edits:
“Stöckelová has indeed been an Editor-in-Chief of the English edition of the journal since 2013. Since assuming the position, she contributed two short pieces to the journal in her capacity as of an editor. Neither in her CV nor in the national register of research results has she claimed that they were anything else than short non-reviewed texts”.
If this is her point, then why Stöckelová published these “two short pieces” in the journal she edited herself stepping around the peer reviews? Perhaps the answer lies elsewhere than in defending that those “two short pieces” were for Stöckelová’s amusement only. If you look closer at these articles, you will find that for example one of them published in 2016 was ‘An Open Letter to the European Sociological Association: “Conference Business”: as Usual?’ with a purpose to support a blog (another blog, here we are again!) written by the three Czech Ph.D. students from Masaryk University in Brno to criticize European Sociological Association for things like putting the conference fees too high or charging extra 40 EUR for the conference dinner in a luxury restaurant at Vltava River.
I do not want to argue with the “witch hunters” about the fees or about ESA conference being “an ivory tower”, since I am an economist and attend different conferences altogether. I just think the issue is very debatable and does not belong to an academic journal indexed on WoS. In fact, I do not know any prestigious journal indexed on WoS (or Scopus for that matter) which would publish a paper criticizing European Sociological Association for high conference fees or “excluding” less wealthier academics – personal opinions belong to personal blogs (and blogs only). Stöckelová is not new in business and she understood very well that her “short piece” would have never passed the peer review process but still wanted to inform the world on ESA being too entrepreneurial, so the opted for the journal she edited, Sociologický časopis – Czech Sociological Review (indexed in Scopus and Web of Science), which allowed her to publish the dubious article bypassing the peer review process. Here is where the real problem lies: Brož, Stöckelová, and Vostal are preaching about the “commercialization” of science and about Scopus and WoS being owned by the private corporations and equity funds who are focused on money-making rather on measuring academic quality (and therefore deteriorating from academic values), but they do not hesitate to use Web of Science for promoting their political agenda which has nothing to do with science, research, and academic values.
Brož, Stöckelová, and Vostal criticize the “uncritical and unreflexive treatment of bibliometrics and developments in political economy of meta-data” offered by Scopus and WoS but fail to suggest a better alternative. Going away from the two world-renowned databases and creating local publication standards might lead (at least in the Czech Republic and any other post-Communist country in Central and Eastern Europe) to a situation in which a small group of local academics is going to make decisions on which articles (and which journals) are good and which are bad, and who is going to get a promotion and who is going to be fired. I vote for the objectivity of Scopus and WoS over the domestic and mafia-like academic version of “rotting partitocracy”!
In 1893, Czech writer Alois Jirásek published his novel “Proti všem” (“Against all”). The novel takes place in 1420 and tells about the events of the Hussite Wars and fighting the enemies (Crusaders’ armies) from all over Europe. In those days, the proud Hussite warriors were alone and against all. Brož, Stöckelová, and Vostal seem to wage their war against all in a similar fashion with no light at the end of the tunnel.