Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Fake Academic Journals Are a Very Real Problem

Unknown Lamer posted 1 year,8 days | from the as-seen-on-tv dept.

Science 248

derekmead writes "Because its become so easy to start a new publication in this new pixel-driven information economy, a new genre of predatory journals is emerging at an alarming rate. The New York Times just published an exposée of sorts on the topic. Its only an exposée of sorts because the scientific community knows about the problem. There are blogs set up to shame the fake journals into halting publishing. There are tutorials online for spotting a fake journal. There's even a list created and maintained by academic librarian Jeffrey Beall that keeps an eye on all the new fake journals coming out. When Beall started the list in 2010, it had only 20 entries. Now it has over 4,000. The journal Nature even published an entire issue on the problem a couple of weeks ago. So again, scientists know this is a problem. They just don't know how to stop it."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered


'fake'? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43396591)

What exactly is the difference between a 'fake' journal and a 'real' journal? How much you pay?

Re:'fake'? (5, Insightful)

Musc (10581) | 1 year,8 days | (#43396611)

Probably the difference is that "real" journals use peer review among respected and knowledgeable research in the field, and hold the papers to a high and rigorous standard. A "fake" journal would allow anything in, just to make a profit and allow anybody with money to get their work published, with a pretense of quality peer review.

Re:'fake'? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43396665)

A "fake" journal would allow anything in, just to make a profit and allow anybody with money to get their work published, with a pretense of quality peer review.

Or to push an agenda.

A famous example is the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine, which published only articles favorable to Merck drugs and was paid for by Merck. There was no disclosure of the conflict of interest. Well-known scientists and doctors were added to the list of "honorary editors" without their permission.

The journal, along with several others like it, was published by Elsevier. Go figure.

Global warming (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43397283)

Like global warming?

Re:Global warming (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43397403)

Like global warming?

Yes exactly. There is a famous journal which blurs the distinction between a real and fake one called Energy & Environment. It's famous for it's low standards of peer review and because it explicitly pushes the "[editor's] political agenda."

"But isn't that the right of the editor?" Well no, Sonja, not for a reputable scientific journal it isn't.

Despite this E&E is listed in several respected indexing services, which ought to be the touchstone by which we easily distinguish between real and phish journals.

Re:'fake'? (5, Informative)

rbprbp (2731083) | 1 year,8 days | (#43396635)

Fake journals let anything and everything in, so you can pretend you have lots of papers published. Some of them pretend to be prestigious jornals: can't get published in Nature or Science? Why not Nature and Science [sciencepub.net]?

Re:'fake'? (2)

gnoshi (314933) | 1 year,8 days | (#43396761)

There are two different types of 'fakes' (and maybe more)
One is where a fake site is set up for a real journal, and suckers authors into submitting to it (and more importantly, paying for submission). It is basically phishing.
The other is what appears to the public (and potentially other academics) to be an academic journal that has no standards for submission other than the fee. It is good for submitting claptrap to later refer to.

Re:'fake'? (4, Informative)

femtobyte (710429) | 1 year,8 days | (#43396855)

A third class is politically/ideologically/commercially motivated journals, like the young-earth-creationism journal in the pharyngula link, or Elsevier's fake pharmaceutical journals. These will publish "research" supporting particular unscientific bullshit that serves the interests of a particular group, so that unqualified/uniformed decision makers (think, e.g., right-wing politicians wanting justification for unregulated pollution or teaching "creation science") can be handed "sciency-looking" reference to back up their policies, so they have something "equal" to fire back with when the "other side" brings actual scientific facts to the table.

Re:'fake'? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43396931)

That's a rather disappointing bit of information. How does one sort out the science well-reviewed by experts when the publishers of proper peer-reviewed journals are also pushing advertisements disguised as scientific journals, and what keeps the journals like Lancet clean?

Re:'fake'? (5, Insightful)

femtobyte (710429) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397047)

One can hope that Elsevier's "real" reputable journals will stay "clean" because (a) their own journal-level management team are actually conscientious scientists, and (b) they are constantly subject to close scrutiny by experts --- every issue they publish gets read by the top minds in the field, so they'd be in hot water fast if they tried to pull any funny business. Reason (b) is something that didn't apply to Elsevier's fake Australian pharmaceutical journals: these were not intended to attract the interest/scrutiny of researchers in the field, but to provide realistic-looking "peer reviewed research" references that the drug companies could use in the regulatory approval process or for marketing blurbs ("proven 70% more effective according to research in ...!"). Elsevier is a nasty problem in the world of publishing; they are a for-profit enterprise (unlike most other major reputable journals, which are non-profit foundations) which has (over their long history) accumulated many reputable journals, but also has amoral profiteering scumbags for their top management (the type of folks who would aid and abet drug companies in potential mass murder by shoddily-tested drugs when they think they can make a buck and get away with it).

I'm the editor of a journal (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43396795)

What exactly is the difference between a 'fake' journal and a 'real' journal? How much you pay?

I'm the editor of the Faux Spurious Journal. We take articles on other journals. I can tell you that it is a huge problem!

A real journal has a pear reviewed articles and other academics looking at them. We cost hundreds of dollars per year - payable in BitCoins. We accept all articles - with a small fee - because of academic

Fake journals, OTOH, only accept articles when the Editor (*snicker*) likes you. THEY cost THOUSANDS of dollars a year; which is indicative of their questionable authenticity.


Heywood Yablowme, Ph.D.
University of Nigeria

Re:I'm the editor of a journal (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43396851)

I get the idea, but you have failed to define any quantifiable metric that makes a journal 'fake'. I assume you also reject articles at times, why is your judgement better?

This isn't an accusation, but if you are going to talk about scientific authenticity, but what measure do you have more?

Re:I'm the editor of a journal (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43396903)

His name is allegedly Dr. Heywood Yablowme. I think your satire detector may be due for a tune-up.

You're killing me! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43397097)

Really? Are you serious?

The name of the journal " Faux Spurious Journal."

"pear reviewed articles" - PEAR reviewed? Reviewed by a piece of fruit?!? Huh? huh?

The subscription is payable in BitCoins - OK, not so bad.

"We accept all articles - with a small fee - because of academic" academic what? I never finished the sentence.

" when the Editor (*snicker*) likes you." - I mean please!

And the last:

"Heywood Yablowme, Ph.D.

University of Nigeria"

God! If I'm gonna write this stuff and get taken seriously, I mean, I have no reason to live!

Re:You're killing me! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43397437)

Really? Are you serious?

Are you?!

The subscription is payable in BitCoins - OK, not so bad.

Ah, I see you're that type! ... let me explain this really slowly for you then: The post you are responding to ... is using ... irony [reference.com].

Re:I'm the editor of a journal (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397137)

What exactly is the difference between a 'fake' journal and a 'real' journal? How much you pay?

Well, one thing I can tell you is that you will not find out from that so-called "tutorial" linked to in TFS. That's just a Wired page with a list of 6 examples to pick on a T/F basis. Slashdot editors asleep at the wheel again (sigh).

Re:I'm the editor of a journal (2)

jd2112 (1535857) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397911)

University of Nigeria? Hey, Are you the guy who sent me an email claiming to be a grad student who needed to get his money out of the country before his student loans were due?

Re:'fake'? (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | 1 year,8 days | (#43396813)

A journal is a book, as in ink on a dead, mashed up tree. Electronic beeps and shit on the telephone wires, that ain't no journal.

And what's non-"fake" about legacy print journals? (0)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397087)

And what's non-"fake" about legacy print journals? Especially if they're publishing something outside their field of expertise.

(One recent example: The New England Journal of Medicine publishing criminological studies on guns, most now thoroughly debunked by researchers in the actual field, publishing in the field's own, well-respected, journals.)

I wonder how much of this is the existing journals (and paridigm-embedded academic cliques) trying to maintain their business model and hold on the field in the face of competition, much of it higher quality and timeliness, from online journals.

They have exactly the same problem as the mainstream news and entertainment media versus the Internet-based alternatives. This looks like they're taking one of the same approaches: Discredit the competition as a class, rather than those individual publications that rate the discredtation.

(Print journals have plenty of non-mainstream competition - both from "valid" alternative viewpoints and crackpots. All that's different about internet journals are the lower costs, barriers to entry, and publication delays.)

Re:'fake'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43397647)

That is a good question when you consider that Margaret Mead, Dr Kinsey and Steven Jay Gould faked much of their data.

journals (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43396621)

Journals aren't cool anymore, everyone just lets the entire internet know that they just brushed their teeth.

The Goatse Journal Citation needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43396627)

The Study of Rectal stretching via first posts on Slashdot and Reddit.com mbust be stopped.

Mod down with your hosts file.

Fakery (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | 1 year,8 days | (#43396629)

They just don't know how to stop it."

Really? Because in cryptography, we solved this a long time ago: It's called a web of trust. If you find a journal that is reputable and like it, then "sign it". Except instead of using crypto in this sense, give your readers a list of trusted peers on the back page.

It's just like what we already do: We trust our educated friends to separate bullshit from genuine science... why not formalize this process?

Re:Fakery (3, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | 1 year,8 days | (#43396683)

How do I trust YOUR 'educated friends'? Maybe they're scammers, maybe they're legit. If I am researching a subject that I am unfamiliar with and unfamiliar with the top echelon folks in the field, how do I break into their web of trust to find a competent journal?

Re:Fakery (3, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | 1 year,8 days | (#43396789)

How do I trust YOUR 'educated friends'?

Well, I bring you over to their house and you have a play date with them. And when you're done playing dress up and house, I drive you back home. And afterwords you're best friends.

how do I break into their web of trust to find a competent journal?

I suppose the same way you find a competent anything: Ask around.

It never ceases to amaze me how seemingly intelligent people can come up with inordinately complex solutions to everyday problems... it's like guys who insist on not stopping for directions... they'll drive in circles for hours when all it would have taken was to walk into a gas station and ask where to go. Of course, how do we trust the gas station attendant? He could be handing out disinformation and fake maps...

You can start by reading their work (3, Informative)

backslashdot (95548) | 1 year,8 days | (#43396829)

Huh? It's very easy. If your paper is good, just submit it to a known prestigious journal .. a list would be published in mainstream journals -- and you dont really need one .. you can go by citation indexes or just *gasp* read some of the entries in existing publications and see if they are coherent. Or you can ask around by attending seminars at colleges that are reputed.

It's easy to get familiar with who the top researchers are in any field .. it really doesn't take a lot of effort. If you are in a particular field you would know, so all you have to do is find out where their publications are .. (you can find this out easily from their corporate webpage or university department links).

Re:You can start by reading their work (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43397109)

Some fake journals try pretty hard to blur the line though. There are a lot of journals out there for publishing really boring results, especially fields that have voluminous compilations and other details results that may be important, but don't represent a break through (e.g. compilations of detail spectroscopy measurements). A lot of researchers in the same field might not even be able to name such journals despite them being respectable, useful, and completely legitimate. Then there are fake journals that seek out and solicit results that are similar, and likely to not end up in more major journals. Or I've seen cases of journals seeking out articles that look like they are from people that don't speak English as well, or are from out of the field. They are legitimate articles, that may have trouble getting into top journals due to being a bit more mundane. Then the fake journal slips in a few articles with no or pointless peer review, interleaved with otherwise decent articles.

It then comes down to a bit of luck and how much time you spend investigating the journal and other articles. I once came across one that had several detailed, articles on semiconductor material properties that seemed legit and in agreement with results our group had. But then all of a sudden there was a paper that the conclusions were based on numerology and which digits they liked better. Further investigation found that maybe one in five or one in ten articles were complete non-scientific BS (with deceptive abstracts), and equal portion of just really bad papers that probably got rejected everywhere else (but with good sounding abstracts), and then the rest was filler from legit, if unpolished, papers.

Re:You can start by reading their work (1)

chienandalou (2637845) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397159)

I agree with this.

But think about the difficulties facing someone trying to start a new journal -- perhaps a new journal in an emerging field. If I'm in Pune and want to start a journal, I'm going to have to work extra hard not to look fake.

Re:You can start by reading their work (1)

backslashdot (95548) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397611)

Not really. Well, what you would need to do is the following:

1. Establish a reputation in the field by publishing in existing prestigious journals.
2. Do peer reviews of existing work for prestigious journals .. if you did Step 1 well, this wouldn't be too hard
3. Get together with others who have established their reputation in Step #1 and start a journal

They aren't easy steps, but then how else would you get get good peer reviewers and establish a quality journal? If you have the support of existing experts, then you wouldnt have a problem. if you don't have their support that could point to weakness in your ability to actually have a journal of high quality.

Re:Fakery (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43396735)

All scientists know which the real journals are. They have to -- their jobs depend on publishing in the good ones.

The problem is that laypeople can't tell the difference, and no "web of trust" is going to solve this problem because laypeople have no clue which web of trust is trustworthy. There are lists of reputable journals, but anyone can make a fake list of reputable journals.

Re:Fakery (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43396781)

Published academic papers already do that: it's called a references list. A citation to a non-reputable journal shouldn't get past peer review. You could probably use the web of references starting at some clearly reputable journal like Nature or Science and get a set of all reputable journals (maybe with some dropping of very rare venues as non-reputable venues that managed to occasionally sneak past peer review).

I suspect the problem is somewhat different: the people getting duped by fake journals are probably not aware that fake journals are a thing. They aren't part of the mainstream academic community and don't know what it looks like; by submitting to a fake journal, they think they are participating in it. I'm not sure how to fix that problem or even if I am correctly understanding why fake journals are a problem.

Re:Fakery (3, Insightful)

rgmoore (133276) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397033)

If you find a journal that is reputable and like it, then "sign it".

Something similar is already formalized in academic publishing. When an author trusts an individual article, he'll cite it as a reference in his own articles. Articles that are important can be cited hundreds or thousands of times, while trivial ones may never be cited at all. If you take all the articles in a journal and see how many times they've been cited on average*, it gives you a good idea of consensus opinion of the quality of the journal. This is the basis of measures like the Impact Factor.

*You may wish to use some method of averaging other than taking the arithmetic mean, which can be skewed by a handful of highly cited papers.

Re:Fakery (1)

afidel (530433) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397429)

How do you prevent the equivalent of SEO spam where they setup their own web of journals and articles that all cross-reference each other?

Re:Fakery (2)

femtobyte (710429) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397623)

Analysis of the "connectivity matrix" between inter-journal referencing will indicate that these are in their own isolated group. What you can do is calculate Impact Factor relative to a few known "good" journals: start with, e.g., Science and Nature, and expand your list to all journals moderately frequently referenced by these two and the journals they reference. No matter how many cross-referenced links the fake journal cluster have with each other, it will show poor "connectivity" to the group of legitimate journals that include key reputable publications in their own referencing cluster.

SEO spam works because Google doesn't necessarily "know" which neighborhoods of the internet are the "right" ones for your search (since the internet developed in a much more sparsely connected and decentralized manner, with a huge number of locally-closely-linked neighborhoods). With scientific journals, however, there is only one "good" interlinked neighborhood that contains the reputable journals --- if you aren't in the same "cluster" as the top publications in your field, you're in the wrong place.

Re:Fakery (3, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397071)

Really? Because no one uses your web of trust, we all use certificate authorities which (in theory) verify the integrity for us, kind of like Journals.

Only wanna-be cryptonerds who still fail to understand why self-signed certs are next to worthless still carry on about 'web of trust' crap. Okay, so a few guys who ACTUALLY know cryptography may still be in that camp for legitimate theoretical reasons, but no one considers that acceptable for the real world. Well, okay, clearly you do, so some people do, probably the same people who don't understand why BitCoin is doomed to failure I expect.

Your standards are different than mine, your friends standards are different than both of us, so your trust and your friends trust ratings are meaningless to me. Actually, they are truly meaningless for me because I know (Safe assumption) that you don't actually have a formal standard for what you 'trust', its an ad-hoc system thrown together without thinking it through.

Re:Fakery (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43397375)

The Teatards, the Muslims and The Klan will just find a way around it to push their agenda down everyone's throats. Ever notice how these organizations work together? Sure they put up a good front but they're still there. The effects of the faked 9/11 attacks actually served the purposes of fundamentalist Islam by helping create the Arab Spring and ripping Saddam Hussein from his leadership of the largest secular government in the middle east. The Teatards made this happen.

Re:Fakery (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397381)

Where are my mode points?

This a thousand times over. Whether licensing, peer ratings, webs of trust, or some combination of systems, this is what needs to be done.

Can such a system be gamed? Certainly, as can -any- system given enough time and effort, but it i s still better than nothing at all.

Re:Fakery (1)

spikenerd (642677) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397895)

Can such a system be gamed? Certainly, as can -any- system given enough time and effort, but it i s still better than nothing at all.

To be more specific, it is better than the system we have, which is easier to game. With the current system, everyone must trust the well-established venues. With the web of trust, everyone chooses their own trusted pointes to seed their web. This is very difficult to game unless you know your target's seed points in advance.

The Journal of The Creation Research Society (1)

servognome (738846) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397715)

Dear Fellow Scientist,

It has come to our attention that you are looking to find an academic journal that not only presents the most cutting edge information, but one that embodies world class professionalism.
JCRS has a long history publishing innovative and informative articles that have furthered human knowledge in a number of disciplines. Among the organizations that subscribe to our journal are: Bethesda University of California, Bakke Graduate University, EUCON International College, and Pacific Islands University. These universities are all members of Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, which is recognized by the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
We are also pleased to include submissions from Bob Jones University. This is highly regarded institution who provides some of the leading curriculums for children in home schools, and has been approved for some state funded schools in the state of Louisiana.

Thank you for your time and we look forward to providing you with some of the most sophisticated research available

Best Regards,

Dr. Flat Earth

Bricks and mortar publishers rejoice (1)

AHuxley (892839) | 1 year,8 days | (#43396651)

If your grandparents or parents or senior staff where published in print and can be found in top university libraries...
Pay your fee, publish with us and you too can enjoy true academic bliss.

Re:Bricks and mortar publishers rejoice (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43396765)

Medusa [mit.edu]: Fuck you, cunt. Go suck another dick.
  Rick James [rollingstone.com]:Yeah, fuck you, cunt. Go suck another dick.
  Medusa [mit.edu]I'm a very kinky giiiirrrrllll. The kind you don't take home to motha!!!

Republicans (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43396657)

This is what happens when our foolish leaders allow first amendment rights to those who do not deserve it. They poison science with their hate.

Re:Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43396723)

You're preaching to the crowd here. We all know how much more important liberal arts are than engineering and science.

Re:Republicans (1)

kwbauer (1677400) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397581)

Seriously?!? In a series of post discussing how can we authenticate the veracity of a publisher you propose that the government should be the final arbiter of what is true and what isn't?

Even worse, you suggest that the government should have final say as to who gets to speak publicly. Which government agency gave you permission to express that opinion?

FPs on this list are unacceptable (3, Interesting)

damn_registrars (1103043) | 1 year,8 days | (#43396739)

I'm not saying there are any false positives on the list, but rather that having any could be a really, really, bad thing. Scientists all over the world are fed up with the rising costs of publication, and several journals have tried to pop up to address it. This is one thing that many of the fakes are trying to exploit, but if a real journal comes up that can get work reviewed and published for less than the rest, it should not be suppressed.

Hence if a valid new journal comes up that wants to do business for less, care must be taken to ensure it doesn't end up on the dreaded "fake journal" lists.

What problem? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43396745)

I just read an article in the latest issue of Natchure Juornal to hit my doorstep saying that fake publishing isn't an issue at all. They also had some great offers for Genuine Faux (that's French for 'extra fancy grade') Rollex watches. I know it's a reputable journal because they publish from smart real people like me for only a nominal distribution fee (payable in 28 monthly installments of $29.95).

Even worse (4, Insightful)

oldhack (1037484) | 1 year,8 days | (#43396791)

In medicine, even "real" journals are mostly filled with crap, dishonest and distorted research papers.

Re:Even worse (1)

phantomfive (622387) | 1 year,8 days | (#43396927)

Which field doesn't have journals filled mostly with crap? Even Science and Nature have papers of dubious value....

Re:Even worse (2)

oldhack (1037484) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397019)

Medicine and medical research suffers from two problems:

1. Inherent difficulty, both technical (huge diversity and complexity of human physiology) and ethical (can't round up people to experiment on - at least not "in principle").

2. The medical-industrial complex that is the tangled mess of big pharma, academia, and regulators with huge amount of money slushing around.

The combination makes medicine and medical research particularly toxic to conducting good science. You tell me another field that comes even close.

Re:Even worse (2)

rgmoore (133276) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397079)

You tell me another field that comes even close.

Easy: Economics. You have similar, if not greater, problems conducting controlled experiments, especially in macroeconomics, and there's even more money and politics involved. Economics winds up being closer to theology than it is to science, even though it's something that ought to be amenable to the scientific method.

Re:Even worse (0)

oldhack (1037484) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397163)

1. We are talking about science, not social studies.

2. There is no where near the money in economics research as there is in medicine. Not even close.

3. People use economics like drunks use lamp posts: for support, not illumination.

They also have funding bias by interested parties. (0)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397181)

You tell me another field [than medicine] that comes even close [to having as much trouble actually doing good science].

Easy: Economics. You have similar, if not greater, problems conducting controlled experiments, especially in macroeconomics, and there's even more money and politics involved.

They also have funding bias by interested parties.

For instance: The Federal Reserve Bank has spent enormous amounts of money supporting economics jourals and departments, as have governments.

Is it any wonder that Keynsianism - with its abysmal record of failed predictinos and its support of government and bank looting of the population by inflationary printing and pumping - is mainstream, while the Chicago and Austrian Schools are considered "crackpot"?

Re:They also have funding bias by interested parti (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43397591)

Right, which is why we've got rampant inflation and a devalued currency. Like the Austrian and Chicago schools have been predicting to happen any time now, for 4+ years.

Re:Even worse (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397229)

Medicine and medical research suffers from two problems:

1. Inherent difficulty, both technical (huge diversity and complexity of human physiology) and ethical (can't round up people to experiment on - at least not "in principle").

2. The medical-industrial complex that is the tangled mess of big pharma, academia, and regulators with huge amount of money slushing around.

The combination makes medicine and medical research particularly toxic to conducting good science. You tell me another field that comes even close.

I remember reading a few years ago that one of the top medical journals (New England, IIRC) started letting doctors publish review articles for drugs without mentioning that they were paid by the company that sells them.

Also, most drug testing in the USA is done by the company that wants to market it, which introduces the desire to suppress results that show that a drug is dangerous and/or ineffective. Kind of like the tobacco industry back in the day...

Re:Even worse (4, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397529)

Sociology, psychology. The vast majority of papers suffer from a weakness I call, "lack of robustness." That's true even in computers, where robustness should be easy. My guess is math is better, but I've never read a math journal. At least in the medical field you can actually get large groups of people to experiment on sometimes. You almost never get that in sociology.

Money in the medical field is a double edged sword: it induces corruptness, but it also enables studies at a scale that are unfundable in other fields.

a dated system (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43396815)

our paper-based academic publishing paradigm is showing it's age, and it's about time we found a new outlet for knowledge.

open access journals are a start, but even they take too many clues from a dying paper publishing system.



Authority is right because it's the authority on (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43396831)

being right == you idiots idea of peer review.
This is just the effetes crying because they can't stand that they no longer monopolize on effective channels of communication anymore! WAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

The problem is accedemia's culture. (2)

jellomizer (103300) | 1 year,8 days | (#43396849)

Publish or parish. That the accedemic motto. However a lot of science needs a lot of time to complete. However they are pressured to publish, in order to keep funding. Real journals are about real science, but those fake ones are so the can blabber about some stuff to get published, add it to their site and get back to work.

Your profession in life doesn't mean you are of a higher moral caliber. A scientist will hurt the rest of science so they just work on their stuff, they will lie cheat and steal to get what they want. Just like the rest of humanity you have good eggs and bad eggs and usually their motives are complex and hard to pass easy moral judgement on.
The way to curve bad behavior is to constantly work on adjusting the culture to prevent people from manipulating the system.

Re:The problem is accedemia's culture. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43396909)

What are you talking about, are you on crack? Scientists publish in these to hurt science? Once you wrote "accedemic" it became obvious you had nothing of import to say.

"The way to curve bad behavior is to constantly work" - OK then.

Re:The problem is accedemia's culture. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43396965)

"Publish or parish." - Use the church as an alternative source of science funding? An intriguing idea... :-)

Somewhat related (1)

g01d4 (888748) | 1 year,8 days | (#43396893)

Physics Today [physicstoday.org] has an interesting commentary predicting scientist's future impact based on a formulas like the Acuna model which

is calculated from a linear combination of five metrics: an individual's current h-index h(t), the square root of his or her total number of publications N, the number of years t since first publication (the career age), the number of publications q in high-impact journals, and the number of distinct journals j in which the individual has published.

While the 'fake' journals may not be high-impact they would enhance the total number and diversity values. This type of formula might be used when hiring for academic positions.

Everything you read on the internet is true! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43396899)

Remember, everything you read on the internet is true!

Re:Everything you read on the internet is true! (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397791)

We should rally the Catholic Church and the Taliban to burn these fake journals. We all know that there is only one book.

Industry (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43396915)

Academia is left; Industry is right. Linus likes C more than C++. I had a boss who liked C, maybe to keep the bar low for hiring.

God called classical music, "poison".

25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.

Jesus only hated arrogant pharasees. The arrogant were His natural enemies. He said, "Beware the yeast of the pharasees".

Jesus was against honors and stuff like that -- getting recognition for donations. Praying publically, instead of in private.

I'm not an extremest kook. I got a master's while my boss wanted me to drop-out like Bill Gates. Industry seems to have more of my kind of virtue, the kind that I admire.

When up is down and down is up, it's not pleasant. The world is not insane. Sometimes, a cheap C64 is better than an Apple. It's not pleasant when you can't just get what you pay for.

"Don't Know What To Do" - copyright angle (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | 1 year,8 days | (#43396921)

A sleazy op is likely to make mistakes.

I'm wondering why someone can't use the copyright angle to yell at any "fake pub" that swipes professor photos. (Possibly even the name-credentials part as well)

I don't debate that most are propaganda but (5, Interesting)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | 1 year,8 days | (#43396943)

I don't debate that most are propaganda but reading through their criteria for a fake journal it basically says if it ain't crammed chock'a'block full of academics then it is fake. This sounds a bit like old media complaining about new media writers not being professional journalists who graduated and worked their way up from the bottom (read: aren't baby boomers).

So it is great that the corporate shills are being outed but I would prefer some actual analysis. Look at the articles, look at who funded them. Look for real connections between those who write and those who are publishing. A great example of a superb analysis was when Encyclopedia Britannica called out Wikipedia as basically a bunch of half assed crap while they were the bastions of excellence in research. So a group of people randomly selected a bunch of articles from both, then rigorously fact checked them with the result that at the time they were basically even with Wikipedia adding articles at a fantastic rate.

A simple question that I have about Wikipedia is, what qualification did Jimmy Wales have to start Wikipedia? To be specific his job prior to Wiki was running "a male-oriented web portal featuring entertainment and adult content" Another would be Matt Drudge (love him or hate him) of the drudge report who had "a job in the gift shop of CBS studios, eventually working his way up to manager" just prior to becoming one of the single largest forces in modern journalism.

These people were about as unqualified on paper to do what they did as is possible yet they were massive forces of change. Was slashdot created by a team of experts from the leading technical universities in the world?

Then there are the failings of the best journals themselves. Bad article do slip by. Big companies get their one-sided views in print. Yet right now there is a revolution going on where institutions are sick of paying crazy prices for access to the top journals who are having trouble justifying these prices except to their shareholders.

When I read the criteria to be a "bad" journal some it is quite reasonable such as how open the whole process is, but over and over it basically says, we academics know better and had better be the gatekeepers so that we can keep our jobs. To me a bunch of crap journals are a sign of good things being in the wind. Much like how social media is changing the world with great things that Twitter can bring us it brings us tweets like, "nothin on tv, so bord, YOLO!!!!"

Re:I don't debate that most are propaganda but (1, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397157)

This sounds a bit like old media complaining about new media writers not being professional journalists who graduated and worked their way up from the bottom (read: aren't baby boomers).

You mean because people who've done something their entire lives get annoyed that random people who created a word press account suddenly think because they can post to the Internet that they are journalists?

I can't imagine why. I'd have absolutely no problem giving up my life long career, knowledge and wisdom so some jackass with no experience and barely the ability spell their own name comes in to take it over because the barrier to entry suddenly vanished.

'New media' aren't 'journalists'. Its not because its on the Internet, its because signing up for an account on some web site and spewing your incoherent thought at the rest of us on your blog does not make you a journalist.

Re:I don't debate that most are propaganda but (2)

femtobyte (710429) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397357)

One important difference between academic journals and Britannica/"Old Media journalism" are the mechanisms for accepting new content. Britannica has its staff of writers, and then will seek out a specific expert in a field for extra information --- if they don't "find" you, then you aren't getting published in Britannica. Same for news agencies: you get published because you're already on their staff. Journals, however, are specifically set up to process articles from basically anyone who submits --- often, from names the editorial staff has never seen before. Most journal websites have a "submit" button somewhere --- if you've done your own great outside-of-academia research, you can just send it right in, and it'll generally get reviewed fairly to the same standards as all other submissions.

Of course, just sending your home-made paper in probably won't work. It'll get quickly rejected, with a terse and inscrutable rejection letter that leads you to assume that the Academic Cabal is prejudiced against your lack of fancy titles. This is actually unlikely to be the case: your paper probably actually isn't as hot stuff as you think it is; it's obviously amateurish, ignorant of prior literature in the field, methodologically poor, and badly formatted. But, underneath the lack of academic polish, you've actually done some original and worthwhile research. What should you do?

Well, instead of trying to be a lone outsider railing against the Ivory Tower, ... if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. I bet there's an academic institution of some sort near where you live, with professionals studying in your area of interest. Go talk to them; make friends with them; most of them don't bite. Show your interest in the area; tell them what you've already done; be willing to work with and learn from them (don't go in with a chip on your shoulder about being better for doing science without academic credentials). They can probably help you turn your research into something that will be publishable. I know a lot of "uncredentialed" scientists (formerly myself included) who, as high school and college kids, are published (co)authors without any high degrees; in some fields (like astronomy), amateur observers often contribute to important published results.

SMART people doing forgeries (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43396953)

This is genius, this idea is unbeatable
I patent it

Huh?! (1)

cashman73 (855518) | 1 year,8 days | (#43396973)

What? You mean, that the paper we just submitted to the Journal of Universal Rejection isn't for a real journal? I'm shocked! :-)

Re:Huh?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43397883)

Well, that makes me feel lucky in retrospect that I never managed to get any of my papers published there. For some reason or another, they'd always get rejected (I never did figure out why). Always had to fall back to my second choice, some journal named Science (what sort of cheesy operation chooses an overly generic name like that? wasn't that a PBS show, or something?) --- at least they never rejected any of my submissions.

Misunderstandings (4, Informative)

slew (2918) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397023)

It seems that many posters are coming to the conclusion that the journals are "fake", but that's not fully understanding the issue.

There are apparently some organizations that go the whole fake journal/conference route, but these have always existed and are no different than the diploma mills (except at the post-graduate level). Or those places you can order "trade-rag" magazines with your picture on the cover that you can put in your waiting rooom to impress your clients. Or those fake conferences where people get their employer to pay for their vacation (or in some cases the government in the form of tax breaks). These will never be quashed because the customers are often not really victims, but co-conspirators (although they may claim to be when outed).

It appears that another part of the issue is that criminal organizations are putting up fake websites that masquarade as the official website of real, but obscure journals (that don't have a website) or a website that is confusingly similar to a well known journal and then using these websites to trick people into sending them submission fees. Often these websites have scraped academic search sites for TOC and other publically available information to fool people.

This aspect is like people putting up typosquating websites, cloning websites in different top level domains, or setting up fake websites for businesses that don't have a website (kind of like what domain tasters do, but in a more malicious manner) and doing a bit of SEO...

Sadly these two problems are conflated.

Re:Misunderstandings (1)

ikaruga (2725453) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397555)

It appears that another part of the issue is that criminal organizations are putting up fake websites that masquarade as the official website of real, but obscure journals (that don't have a website) or a website that is confusingly similar to a well known journal and then using these websites to trick people into sending them submission fees. Often these websites have scraped academic search sites for TOC and other publically available information to fool people.

This. Unfortunately the original NYT article isn't really well written in my opinion. It starts by mentioning the naming scam (Entomology-2013 vs. Entomology 2013) but somewhere in the middle it starts talking about fake/weak journals that accept anything so that they can collect publishing money(which are the scam discussed by the Nature article) and then it goes back to the naming scam.

This aspect is like people putting up typosquating websites, cloning websites in different top level domains, or setting up fake websites for businesses that don't have a website (kind of like what domain tasters do, but in a more malicious manner) and doing a bit of SEO...

Exactly same issue. And given the niche target victims and the decentralized nature of academic conferences(every year is a different places(even countries), different staff, no fixed office) and the potentially and relatively large money to be gained(participation, events and related hotel and transportation fees) they make nice scam material

Regardless, both issues are a huge problem not only because they help the increase of lazy or wrong science to be spread, but they ruin the chances that the good science published through them to be seen or respected and they ruin the credibility(and even chances of success) of other new and small but legit and serious conferences and journals. Finally, while were talking a lot about new, smaller and/or less known journals, it's important to remember that even well known popular journals like Nature(widely known Schon case) and Science(recent Stapel case) are not immune to fraudulent data. The whole system is kind of messy right now.

Overlooking (5, Funny)

Beorytis (1014777) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397027)

We're overlooking the obvious benefit to these "fake" journals: It's so much easier now to add references to our Wikipedia articles!

Re:Overlooking (1)

ikaruga (2725453) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397203)

Giving how easy is to get your article published, I bet you could probably find an article that uses Wikipedia as a reference, thus completing the circle.

Re:Overlooking (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43397891)

[citation needed] ...

[citation fabricated!]

let me explain (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43397141)

As a PhD who was, for a brief period, a world expert in a certain obscure branch of DNA technology:
The idea that people don't know what the real journals are is ludicrous.
In any field, there are 10 or 20 to journals; most scientists spend most of their time in no more then 20 or so journals; you can easily verify this by looking at the citations in any scientific paper.

However, the are a lot of not very good and bad papers; some are sleazy efforts to promote some companies products; others are just the normal work product of scientists (sturgeon's rule applies)
So, driven by profit motive and the desparate need to publish so as to obtain tenure, journals arise to fill the need

However, everyone who is not an idiot knows what the small number of decent journals in their field are.

and fake conferences (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397265)

There is a relatively recent scam of announcing fake conferences, sometimes with the name of a real one, gathering the registration fees, and disappearing. Sometimes they steal the real conference's entire web site to make it look real.

One long-running conference shut down within the last year or so because the fake clones were having such a big impact that they couldn't get enough paper submissions or registrations anymore.

On the downturn (5, Insightful)

Okian Warrior (537106) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397273)

It would seem that scientific publishing in the current model is on the way out. Let's look at some of the problems.

Tenure and status are influenced [highly] on publication. Thus, there is an incentive to publish trivial results, to publish results using shaky statistical reasoning, and to publish erroneous and fraudulent results. (Example [slashdot.org])

Because of the emphasis on "quantity" instead of "quality", few results are independently verified. (Example [newscientist.com])

Journals demand that scientists turn over the rights of publication in order to get published. The journals, in turn, charge outrageous fees to view the work - so high, that most of the work is inaccessible to the general public. (Example [nature.com])

The fees are growing so large that smaller universities can no longer afford journal subscriptions. (Example [guardian.co.uk])

The journals do not pay for peer review, or editing, or (in the modern age) even printing and binding. So far as anyone can tell, they are rent-seekers; they provide no services of note to the scientists, their readers, or the community in general. (Example [gigaom.com])

It is entirely possible to masquerade as a scientific journal. In fact, journal quality is a spectrum that contains completely bogus, slightly spurious, mostly useful, and high quality. Being published by a notable company such as Elsevier is no guarantee of quality. (Example [wikipedia.org])

There is enormous monetary value in published papers which validate the particular positions or opinions. (Example) [thedailybeast.com]

These are just off the top of my head. I'm sure people can find other problems with the current system. Sadly, I can't think of any way to fix the current system. It has so many inherent problems that we should probably transition to a different model, but I don't know what should be.

Isn't that what publishers do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43397319)

I get the impression that businesses calling themselves "journals" are reviewing and publishing legitimate scientific works from legitimate scientists... But isn't that what a journal is supposed to be? This is some weird propaganda put out by Elsevier. I thought slashdotters WANTED more indie open-access scientific publishers?

the problem of fakes (5, Insightful)

l3v1 (787564) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397327)

I'm sorry but as someone working in research I have to say that these fake journals are causing problems in our mailboxes (i.e. more spam to filter), otherwise they don't matter at all. What I mean is, those who wish to publish, will either know the relevant journals of their area, or - if they are early in their careers - their supervisors and colleagues will know them.

Additionally, in all normal research institutes and universities people will want to publish in journals that have a registered - and not negligible - impact factor, which the fakes will not have.

Also, when looking into a journal that you never published in, the first thing you look at is the IF, the second thing you look at is the organization backing it, and the third thing you look at are the members of the editorial board. All have to be at least somewhat relevant. If you can't judge it, always ask someone from your field with more experience. It's not hard to get such help.

So, while the high number of fake journals seems high, I'd say those who willingly (silly) or unknowingly (ignorant) publish in them deserve what they end up with.

As always, as a researcher, what you publish is what people will judge you by, so always be inquisitive, careful and selective.

Just curious... (1)

PortHaven (242123) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397365)

If the journal does peer review, and has a broad collection of qualified degree'd reviewers. Is it still fake?

Or just a new entry trying to break the journal cartel that helped kill Schwartz?

They just don't know how to stop it? (1)

ThomasBHardy (827616) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397399)

"scientists know this is a problem. They just don't know how to stop it."

Seriously? They don't know how to stop them?

Well, I've only put a total of 60 seconds of thought into this:

-Establish an industry guideline on how article review should happen that is respected by the general audience.
-Establish a name for this standard "Estra Special Gold Platinum Peer Review Whatever"
-Get the respected journals to adopt the standard to keep the riff-raff out
-Journals without the extra special seal on the front will be of dubious value to anyone and everyone.
-Make profit off of for the audits necessary each year to insure integrity among those who want the credentials

You are telling me that they could not come up with a better idea than that after giving it serious thought for years?

No problem here (2)

sk999 (846068) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397419)

The only science I care about is published in reputable journals.

Like the discovery of "N rays". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N_ray [wikipedia.org]
And the discovery of "Potassium Flares" in the spectra of stars. http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1967PASP...79..351W [harvard.edu]
Not to mention the discovery of Cold Fusion by Pons and Fleishmann. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0022072889800063 [sciencedirect.com]

Re:No problem here (2)

Okian Warrior (537106) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397697)

Please consider removing Pons and Fleishmann from your list. Their problem was that they didn't publish a paper; instead, reporting results directly to the mass media. Not the same situation at all.

As a substitute, you can have the Martian canals [wikipedia.org] and Polywater [wikipedia.org]. For some of us, Polywater is still within living memory.

I'm not so concerned with "mistakes" made in the name of science. If the researcher is sincere and proven wrong - even spectacularly wrong, as in the case of N-rays - it's still the normal course for science. We expect the occasional anomalous result (with p .05), mistaken belief, or cognitive dissonance. [wikipedia.org]

I'm more concerned with the mass, organized fraud and incentives for bad science.

Re:No problem here (1)

femtobyte (710429) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397701)

Fortunately, science isn't about always being right, but how well you can correct things that are wrong. Erroneous publications --- whether from fraud or honest mishap --- get rapidly and thoroughly countered (in the same reputable journals) as soon as better scientific evidence is available. Anyone searching for these topics will immediately stumble across their later "resolution" in highly-visible journal articles.

On the other hand, the crap paper languishing in a fake journal will likely never get directly refuted --- no one competent enough to know it is wrong will ever read it (because they don't waste their time reading scam journals), or, if it does get noticed, will be below contempt to bother refuting (no reputable journal is going to waste pages refuting articles in J. Crackpot Quack Res. Meth.). Thus, any reader later stumbling across it will not be provided the proper context to evaluate its claims in light of later research.

What makes a journal fake? (1)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397461)

What exactly is the difference between a 'fake' journal and a 'real' journal? How much you pay?

A journal is fake if it is not published by Elvesier Springer-Verlag, Foster-and whatever or one of the established publishers who have been publishing for at least 50 years

After all those publishers have interests to protect. Those are to have a "real" system of journals where the publishers get paid to publish the articles, get paid a lot for subscriptions, and get paid a lot to access the articles electronically, and where the biggest amount of labor is done by editors and peer reviewers who offer up their work for free.

Doctoral Thesis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#43397493)

I've got a great idea for a doctoral thesis - Needs a little work, but it's something about the proliferation of online journals and the impact on....hmmm....executive compensation? No, maybe carbon emissions? Interest rates and liquidity?

Whitelist (1)

aaronb1138 (2035478) | 1 year,8 days | (#43397709)

Trying to keep up with fake or illegitimate journals sounds impossible with the potential rate they can expand. Instead create a curated whitelist of known reputable journals. Maybe to add new or obscure journals require a minimum number of votes before a review committee endorses the journal. A nice extra step would be an optional whitelisting committee and public rating of each journal as well as good summaries of focal areas.

As for the genesis of such a committee, start with offers to join to department heads from all tier 1-4 university in the US and Europe (allow them to round-robin responsibility every n years within their department following their first "term"). Allow committee members to decide what subject areas in which they are involved (due mostly to STEM subject area and expertise overlap).

While I would like the cryptanalyst's public key signing strategy, it's highly flawed. We don't know the credentials of the signers, and the potential signer pool is too unlikely to be filled with people we directly know and trust. Sure, with so many department heads, lots of unreliable data will be introduced, but it will only be noise at best (assuming it does not become a California textbook + Feynman type situation).

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account