A leading trade association for the publishers of free, open-access (OA) scientific journals has expelled two of its members, and put a third on probation, as a result of a controversial investigative journalism project published earlier this year by Science. The Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) announced today on its blog that it is terminating the memberships of publishers Hikari Ltd. and Dove Medical Press and placing the membership of SAGE Publications “under review” for 6 months.Last month, reporter John Bohannon sparked extensive debate with a story, part of a larger special issue on how scientists communicate with each other, which documented lax standards for accepting manuscripts at a number of OA journals. He found that dozens of free journals accepted a fake and obviously flawed study that he had created. The “sting” prompted fierce debate, with some critics arguing that Bohannon’s methods were flawed and designed to undermine the OA movement, while others said the story highlighted an important problem in the rapidly growing OA industry.When the story appeared, OASPA, which includes more than 50 major scientific publishers and related organizations among its members, issued a statement noting that Bohannon’s story “provides some useful data about the scale of, and the problems associated with … low-quality publishers,” and promising to “issue a fuller response … once we have had a chance to review the data in more detail.”Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)In today’s statement, OASPA says its review revealed problems serious enough to merit action at three journals that accepted the fake paper: Clinical and Experimental Medical Sciences, published by Hikari Ltd. of Ruse, Bulgaria; Drug Design, Development and Therapy, published by Dove Medical Press, which has offices in the United States and the United Kingdom; and the Journal of International Medical Research, published by SAGE Publications of Thousand Oaks, California.“[T]here was a lack of sufficient rigour in editorial processes at all three of the journals in question, and that for Hikari and Dove the issues may extend wider than the single affected journal,” the group writes in its statement. Hikari and Dove can reapply for membership in 12 months, the group says, while it will consider readmitting SAGE for full membership in 6 months “if there is evidence that its processes have been sufficiently strengthened.”The groups says it has also moved to “strengthen its own membership procedures,” in part by adding “more detailed questions about the editorial process” to its membership application.“In conclusion, although we have unfortunately now terminated memberships as a result of the Science news article, positive outcomes have also arisen from its publication,” the group writes.A Hikari employee reached by ScienceInsider declined comment on the announcement. Dove did not respond to requests for comment.In a statement, SAGE wrote: “We welcome OASPA’s investigation into the quality of research published by its members and will fully cooperate with the 6-month review. We have already taken steps to ensure that the peer review process of the Journal of International Medical Research is much more robust and are confident that OASPA will find our processes more than sufficiently strengthened when they undertake the review. Any paper with similar flaws would not get through either stage of the peer review process of JIMR today.”“SAGE is committed to ensuring that the peer review and acceptance process for all of our journals, whether traditional subscription-based or open access, is robust and to working with OASPA to ensure this. We are pleased that OASPA has recognized our efforts and that they will allow us to formally remain a member of the organization while our official status is put under review.”You can see SAGE’s full statement here.*Update, 11 November, 5:25 p.m.: SAGE’s statement has been added to the article.