So the Neuroskeptic, a blogger for Discover magazine, submitted a nonsense paper to several journals, some of which accepted and even published it.
The paper was laced with plagiarized quotes from Wikipedia, absurd medical jargon, and fanciful elements from Star Wars and was submitted under the name “Lucas McGeorge”. This “McGeorge” wrote of “‘midi-chlorians’ — the fictional entities which live inside cells and give Jedi their powers”. The paper was filled with “references to the galaxy far, far away”, a galaxy which enjoys the disease “Lightsaber’s hereditary optic neuropathy”.
These journals have class-A, super-science-sounding names, like Austin Journal of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, International Journal of Molecular Biology, and American Journal of Medical and Biological Research.
These “predatory” journals are well known to academics. I receive two or three times a week invitations to either submit to some new journal, and even to nominate myself to its editorial board. The Neuroskeptic said he was asked to be an editor for one of the journals he spoofed.
Anybody who can code a web page can set one up. They will publish (on line) nearly any paper for a not-unsubstantial fee, thus earning the writer an essential publishing credit, essential for every academic. If you’re lucky, and most are, your hiring-, tenure- or promotion-review committee won’t notice the shady source of your references.
I also receive dubious invitations to conferences, usually in India or China. Most are obvious money grabs, some are outright frauds. Dicey conferences exist for the same reason as predatory journals: academics get credit for speaking, too.
If you’re not a professional academic, you may wonder how these journals exist. They do because they fill a real need, the niche created by the unceasing and unfortunate demand that academics publish—or else perish. Their primary benefit is speed. You can submit and have a decision, and thus another reference to add to your CV, within days or even hours.
There is no better assurance of a rewarding academic career than in raking in grants, which triumphs over almost any intellectual ill, but paper count counts. Every Dean, Department Chair, and prominent researcher will publicly deny it and will trumpet the line “Quality counts over quantity.” But in private and in practice all operate on the presumption that you have to have papers, and that within certain limits, more is better.
A sample from my junk email as of today (I make no claims for the goodness of badness of any, only that this is the daily fare):
- International Symposium on Environment and Sustainable Agriculture Development (ESAD 2017) Conference Website. Dear Colleagues, The International Symposium on Environment and Sustainable Agriculture Development (ESAD 2017) will be held from November 28-30, 2017 in Sanya, China.
- The Applied Mathematics (AM, ISSN Online: 2152-7393), a peer-reviewed open-access journal, is seeking papers for the upcoming special issue on ” Probability Theory“. Taking this opportunity, we are pleased to invite you to submit and recommend related papers to us through our Paper Contribution System.
- Dear Colleague, We’d like to invite you to submit your papers/posters/ proposals for the following IEEE technically sponsored conferences, Future of Information and Communication Conference (FICC) 2018, 5-6 April 2018, Singapore, Tracks: Communication, Data Science, Ambient Intelligence, Networking, Computing, Security and Privacy, Regular Submission Closes: 15 August 2017
- Invitation of Editorial Member Dear Scholar/Author,
With our platform’s development recent years, is now expanding and obtain more extensive attention. To foster the diverse editorial board and reviewer team, we sincerely invite you to join us as an editorial member or a reviewer in our journals, which contain subjects of earth, energy and environment.
Benefits for Editorial Member/Reviewer Certificate of Reviewer/Editorial Member is offered for you if you need it. You can get the certificate for editorial member or reviewer through online downloads.
Special Offer If an editorial member or a reviewer make great contribution to the journal and want to submit papers, we can provide him/her 20% off to publish their papers.