Tag Archives: journals

Got $500? You too can get a scientific paper published!

A Harvard scientist used a random text generator to create a fake science paper entitled “Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs?” and was able to get it accepted at 17 journals. [Note: the link includes an auto-download of the pdf of the scientist’s fake paper.]

Shrime decided to see how easy it would be to publish an article. So he made one up. Like, he literally made one up. He did it using www.randomtextgenerator.com. The article is entitled “Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs?” and its authors are the venerable Pinkerton A. LeBrain and Orson Welles. The subtitle reads: “The surgical and neoplastic role of cacao extract in breakfast cereals.” Shrime submitted it to 37 journals over two weeks and, so far, 17 of them have accepted it. (They have not “published” it, but say they will as soon as Shrime pays the $500. This is often referred to as a “processing fee.” Shrime has no plans to pay them.) Several have already typeset it and given him reviews, as you can see at the end of this article. One publication says his methods are “novel and innovative”!. But when Shrime looked up the physical locations of these publications, he discovered that many had very suspicious addresses; one was actually inside a strip club.

Essentially, these fake journals are scams to get $500 from scientists, generally from third world countries who can’t get their papers published in the bigger first world journals. (What does that tell us about those bigger first world journals?)

The best line of the article however was this: “Many of these publications sound legitimate. To someone who is not well-versed in a particular subfield of medicine—a journalist, for instance—it would be easy to mistake them for valid sources.” [emphasis mine] It seems to me that if you are a journalist writing about a particular field, you should be reasonably educated on that field and be able to spot a fake journal. I certainly can. That it is assumed that mainstream journalists who report on medicine cannot speaks volumes about the quality of the field.

One of the publishers who had published fake peer-reviewed papers generated by a computer program has responded aggressively to fix the problem.

One of the publishers who had published numerous fake peer-reviewed papers generated by a computer program has responded aggressively to fix the problem.

And by aggressive I mean positively. They have removed the fake papers and are reviewing everything they’ve published, with the help of the guy who exposed the fakes, to make sure there aren’t any other fakes not yet identified. They also say they are reviewing their procedures to figure out how this happened and to prevent it from happening again.

Hundreds of peer-reviewed papers in the field of anaesthesiology are about to be retracted because their data was fabricated.

Hundreds of peer-reviewed papers in the field of anesthesiology are about to be retracted because their data was fabricated.

After more than a decade of suspicion about the work of anesthesiologist Yoshitaka Fujii, formerly of Toho University in Tokyo, investigations by journals and universities have concluded that he fabricated data on an epic scale. At least half of the roughly 200 papers he authored on responses to drugs after surgery are in line for retraction in the coming months.

Like many cases of fraud, this one has raised questions about how the misconduct went undetected for so long. But the scope and duration of Fujii’s deception have shaken multiple journals and the entire field of anesthesiology, which has seen other high-profile frauds in the past few years.

Fujii’s work was published in many different journals, where it appears none of his referees ever checked his data. Worse, this is not the first such case in this field.
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Researchers have found that they cannot reproduce the results of 89 percent of 53 “landmark” cancer research papers.

More bad news for peer-reviewed science: Researchers have found that they cannot reproduce the results for almost ninety percent of the fifty-three “landmark” cancer research papers they reviewed.

It is worse than you think. Consider this quote:

Part way through his project to reproduce promising studies, Begley met for breakfast at a cancer conference with the lead scientist of one of the problematic studies. “We went through the paper line by line, figure by figure,” said Begley. “I explained that we re-did their experiment 50 times and never got their result. He said they’d done it six times and got this result once, but put it in the paper because it made the best story. It’s very disillusioning.”