Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Medical Journals Accept Gibberish Not Even About Cocoa Puffs

Occasionally someone will scam the scammers, and this is one of those. Writing the gibberish below, an author got this article accepted by 17 journals. It turns out that many "medical journals" are frauds, which promise publication for the extraction of $500 from the author.
Cuckoo for cocoa puffs? The surgical and neoplastic
role of cacao extract in breakfast cereals

Running title: Cuckoo for coco puffs?

Pinkerton LeBrain1*, Orson G. Welles2

1Department of Statistical Research, Green Mountain Institute of Nutrition, Sharon, MA, USA
2Asuza Atlantic University, Department of Nutrition and Tomography, Westchester, NY, USA

Accepted 11 January, 2014

The purpose of this study is to examine the role that cacao extract plays in breakfast cereals. We examine cacao extract in breakfast cereals. Rigorous statistical analysis was performed. We find that cacao extract has a significant role in breakfast cereals.

Keywords: Cocoa puffs, cuckoo, surgical, neoplastic role, breakfast cereals

The random words, below, show the nature of the articles which can be accepted and published by such frauds.
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rooms think may. Wicket do manner others seemed
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sweetness questions the gentleman. Chapter shyness
matters mr parlors if mention thought.

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estate Old County. Entreaties you Devonshire law
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It turns out that many of the fake journals are hard to detect by the layman, and many third world scientists might even think that they are submitting to legitimate publications.
"If Harvard-trained researchers are sometimes not able to spot a real journal from a fake, what chance do the rest of us have? Journalists, for instance, often cite medical research in their articles without the expertise to know whether their source is credible or not. The good news is that there are tools available to navigate the process. Jeffrey Beall, an academic librarian, has compiled a list of predatory publishers that he updates every year. Shrime recommends that people who cite medical research cross-reference journals with this list, but keep in mind that brand-new predatory journals pop up every day and Beall may not have found them yet."


Robert Coble said...

This "spoof the academic journals" game has been going on for quite some time. It highlights the fact that "peer reviewed articles" actually means - what?

My personal experience was with Communications of the ACM, the flagship monthly publication of the Association for Computing Machinery. The magazine published a TECHNICAL article on the Year 2000 problem by an assistant professor at Duke University. The essence of the article was that Y2K really was a "trivial" problem that could be "solved" by simply switching to a more robust representation, capable of handling plus/minus 33 BILLION YEARS!

I wrote to the Editor-in-chief, complaining that the article was stupid on the face of it.

(1) A "solution" that required changing the internal representation would require the same search and repair effort on all source code. This changed the problem but did not solve it. Those of us in the programming field were quite capable of figuring out alternative representations that adequately covered the required date range. The REAL problem was minimizing the amount of code that had to be searched and changed. Herr Professor's "solution" would have required ALL PROGRAMS to be searched and changed, actually making the problem worse.

(2) Given that the estimated duration of the known universe (NOT the supposed multiverse) is only about 13.7 billion years, the "solution" was a bad case of overkill.

Here's the "money" quote from the Editor-in-Chief:

"I guess we were asleep at the wheel when we REVIEWED this article! Would you like to have your response printed in the next issue?"

I politely declined, having no wish to publicly and professionally embarrass a Duke University professor. She (yes, the Editor-in-Chief was a woman) sent my comments to the professor. I got a VERY FROSTY response from Herr Professor, stating that he was "just trying to help." With help like that, we would have never gotten the Y2K problem solved in time.

Since that incident, I am extremely wary of accepting ANYTHING published in a "peer reviewed" journal on any subject. The "publish or perish" mindset in academia is NOT conducive to reliable research results.

Stan said...

Interesting bit of history on Y2K, thanks!

The response from the prof indicates a further issue, which is that ivory tower types are required by their situation to publish as much as possible, BUT they do not have any responsibility for the consequences of the half-baked junk which they publish.

Further, if they can get face time on TV or the NYT, their value increases to the university regardless of the quality of the concept which they are pushing.

Even in cases of fraud (think Michael Mann and the the other AGW pimps), their university will find them guiltless, because that also finds the university itself guiltless.