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Fake Academic Journals Are a Very Real Problem 248

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the as-seen-on-tv dept.
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."
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Fake Academic Journals Are a Very Real Problem

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  • Fakery (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday April 08, 2013 @08:09PM (#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 (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ColdWetDog (752185) on Monday April 08, 2013 @08:18PM (#43396683) Homepage

      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 (Score:4, Funny)

        by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday April 08, 2013 @08:35PM (#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...

        • Re:Fakery (Score:4, Informative)

          by starless (60879) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @12:21AM (#43398123)

          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.

          Off topic but: When I lived in the UK I used to ask for directions at petrol stations very often and always got good information. But, when I moved to the US I tried asking for directions at gas stations and never got any useful help at all. So, asking for directions at gas stations is not useful, based on my research...

      • by backslashdot (95548) on Monday April 08, 2013 @08:40PM (#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).

        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 08, 2013 @09:22PM (#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.

        • If it was about the content, they wouldn't charge for a submission, but pay the person delivering them actual content. Like they used to do with newspapers, people or press bureaus would get paid if their submission got printed. This is about money and "reputable" academic journals will only print papers that will look good to their subscribers and on top of that, require a hefty fee from the person wanting to publish.

          However much I hate online music sales websites, there should be at least two good online

        • by gstoddart (321705)

          Huh? It's very easy. If your paper is good, just submit it to a known prestigious journal

          This completely misses the reason why those fake journals exist in the first place -- which is usually so an industry group can point to 'science' which supports their claims.

          Tobacco, oil, pharma, and political groups all have an interest in these so they can try to win public opinion.

          This isn't fake journals scamming the people who submit papers, this is fake journals which are created to produce cite-able papers which

    • Re:Fakery (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 08, 2013 @08:26PM (#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.

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      Why would a journal advertise its competition?

    • Re:Fakery (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rgmoore (133276) <glandauer@charter.net> on Monday April 08, 2013 @09:12PM (#43397033) Homepage

      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.

      • by afidel (530433)

        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?

        • by femtobyte (710429)

          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 legiti

    • Re:Fakery (Score:4, Insightful)

      by BitZtream (692029) on Monday April 08, 2013 @09:17PM (#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 (Score:4, Insightful)

        by tqk (413719) <s.keeling@mail.com> on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @09:38AM (#43400441)

        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.

        Your arrogance is unfounded. Multiple CAs have been cracked in the past few years and everyone who knows anything about the system knows it should be scrapped. Self-signed certs can be just as reliable as the snakeoil CAs spit out. You don't have to pay snakeoil salesmen for them either.

    • by wbr1 (2538558)
      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.

      • by spikenerd (642677)

        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.

        • by Eskarel (565631)

          Except of course that unless you are an expert in a particular field your "web of trust" is really likely to just be a list of sources which support what you already believe. If you believe AGW is a crock you'll trust journals which agree with you as opposed to ones which don't.

          The basis of trust in journals is peer review, that is to say it's a web of trust, but it's a web of trust generated by people who know what they're god damned talking about as opposed to a web of trust I create based on my own biase

    • 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 Isl
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Even worse (Score:4, Insightful)

    by oldhack (1037484) on Monday April 08, 2013 @08:35PM (#43396791)
    In medicine, even "real" journals are mostly filled with crap, dishonest and distorted research papers.
    • Which field doesn't have journals filled mostly with crap? Even Science and Nature have papers of dubious value....
      • by oldhack (1037484)

        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 c

        • by rgmoore (133276)

          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.

        • 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 (Score:5, Interesting)

          by phantomfive (622387) on Monday April 08, 2013 @10:27PM (#43397529) Journal
          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.
  • by jellomizer (103300) on Monday April 08, 2013 @08:43PM (#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.

  • 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)

  • by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Monday April 08, 2013 @08:55PM (#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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by BitZtream (692029)

      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 becau

      • There's also the fact that real journalists tend to be more accountable.

        And that real journalists also tend to understand much better the distinction between journalism and editorialising. (One of the benefits of actually going to school for something you plan to do as a profession.)

        At least, when I was in the business, I knew pretty well that if I ran something on the air that I couldn't back up with independently verifiable facts, I might be looking for another job the next day. In a different broadcast m

    • by femtobyte (710429)

      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

      • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @03:49AM (#43398893) Journal

        and it'll generally get reviewed fairly to the same standards as all other submissions.

        Haaaaaahahahhaahahahahaha.

        Reviewed fairly? Haaahahahhahaha.

        To the same standards as other papers? Sure. By fairly? Aaaa ahahahaha.

        "You didn't cite me enough"

        "Why didn't your write a paper on X instead?"

        "You should have used the method I'm going to make up and describe badly in the following paragraph"

        "I don't believe the results and no amount of data could convince me otherwise"

        "The english is bad and sentance are confuse"

        "MOAR EXPERIMENTS!!1!!!11!oneONEoneleven!111!"

        "Here's a long treatise on why I'm awesome and wait was there a paper I'm meant to be reviewing somewhere...?"

        "I don't understand the area of maths you've used standard results from so I'm going to assume that the paper is wrong"

        "The field has not advanced since 1973 and I'm resoloutely going to ignore any advances since then, therefore you're wrong."

        "your wrong!1!!"

        "I'm not going to let the paper in unless you increase it's length by a factor of at least 2, which will conveniently put you a factor of 2 over the longest papers allowed by this journal"

        But yes the other points stands. Scientists IRL are generally nice enough and like talking about science and helping people---they are professional teachers and like every good teacher want a good, willing student. Anonymous scientists on the internet (reviewers) act like slashdot trolls with worse spelling.

        • by femtobyte (710429)

          Hey, I see you've run into somewhat dickish reviewers, too --- guess what, everyone who publishes sometimes encounters this. That's why it's doubly useful to work with a published scientist, who will be there to have a laugh with you at the reviewer (and help you shrug off the criticism and deal with the revisions, instead of sulking in rage). Probably buried in the review, there are (implicitly) a couple good points, too. For example, in your "review," it appears that --- as clever and advanced as you may

  • What? You mean, that the paper we just submitted to the Journal of Universal Rejection isn't for a real journal? I'm shocked! :-)
  • Misunderstandings (Score:5, Informative)

    by slew (2918) on Monday April 08, 2013 @09:11PM (#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.

    • by ikaruga (2725453)

      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 i

  • Overlooking (Score:5, Funny)

    by Beorytis (1014777) on Monday April 08, 2013 @09:12PM (#43397027)
    We're overlooking the obvious benefit to these "fake" journals: It's so much easier now to add references to our Wikipedia articles!
    • by ikaruga (2725453)
      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.
  • let me explain (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    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 norm

    • by Eskarel (565631)

      The problem isn't really about journals in your field, if the journal is in your field you're more than capable of filtering the wheat from the chaff regardless of its source.

      The issue is that putting "Journal of _____" as a reference adds a degree of credibility. It does so because it's supposed to indicate that a whole bunch of people who actually know what they're talking about looked at the article in question and at the very least didn't laugh. I like to believe I'm reasonably intelligent, but if I'd r

  • 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.

  • by RackinFrackin (152232) on Monday April 08, 2013 @09:41PM (#43397269)

    but the Antarctica Journal of Mathematics [domainsmoon.com] has such a great webpage.

  • On the downturn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Okian Warrior (537106) on Monday April 08, 2013 @09:41PM (#43397273) Homepage Journal

    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.

    • by Twinbee (767046)
      I think a 'pagerank' type system could work well, where papers and/or people are ranked not just on the quantity of people who support them, but also the authoritativeness of those people.
  • by l3v1 (787564) on Monday April 08, 2013 @09:52PM (#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.
  • 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?

  • by sk999 (846068) on Monday April 08, 2013 @10:07PM (#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]

    • 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 cours

    • by femtobyte (710429)

      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 direct

  • 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 departme

  • by CuteSteveJobs (1343851) on Monday April 08, 2013 @11:50PM (#43397959)
    > The journal Nature even published an entire issue on the problem a couple of weeks ago.So again, scientists know this is a problem.

    "even"? "even"? oh well then... Come on. I smell bias in this submission. It doesn't mention that Nature is owned by an academic publisher making $$$. Those publishers hate open access journals. If they accuse these fake journals of being there to make a profit, isn't that what Nature's owners are in the business for too? It may also be an attempt to smear genuine open access journals with a broad brush.
  • The problem is not so much the rise of fake science journals (like the one started to get the "sasquatch genome" published...) but rather uncritical readers and especially journalists that package everything "sciencey" as The Truth. Among scientists, the value of a publication is reputation based - a journal with a high science citation index (so citations in newspapers do not count, only other scientific publications that have been accepted into the list of indexed journals) does provide more trust than on
  • Find those fake journals and submit them SCIgen papers.

  • ...would rather have it as an exposé (pour les initiés) after meaningful peer review. ;-)
  • by fearofcarpet (654438) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @01:27AM (#43398405)

    If you are just starting out in a tenure-track position, you have about five years to show that you are capable of pulling in funding, getting talks accepted to conferences, and publishing papers that get cited. It's easy to say that fake journals are simple to spot because "everyone" knows what the real journals are, and besides, I wouldn't waste time publishing anywhere but in the best journals... True if you are still a PhD student or postdoc, but wait until your adviser's name no longer appears on your author list. Suddenly results that you know you could have published in a top journal are being scrutinized by referees at a bread-and-butter "specialty journal" who have no reason to believe in your competence.

    Now imagine you get an email from a shiny new open-access journal asking you to be on their editorial board. You think "gee, I'd like to support open-access" and hey, look at that, someone I know is already on the editorial board. Suddenly you are getting phone calls asking for the title of the talk that you have been invited to give at a conference in Vegas (for which you are certain to be billed after the fact). And you find out that your job as an editor is to submit papers to their journal. You of course don't want to, because a paper with zero citations is worse in many ways than no paper at all. But your doe-eyed grad student, who has just had a string of bad luck, really needs a paper for their CV. You feel responsible for this person's future and guilty that their project isn't producing ground-breaking papers every other week. So you let them write up a paper for this crappy journal, which is when you find out that they charge even their editorial board for "publication fees." And the best part is that, when you politely explain to them that you can't afford $3000 to publish a paper no one will ever read, they start negotiating the price with you! Classy.

    Then there are the legitimate journals and conferences that are put together by, for example, a bunch of foreigners that you have never heard of. It's neigh impossible to determine the legitimacy of such things and, because of your recent experience serving on an editorial board, you are extremely skeptical. The end result is that we are right back where we started; only participating when we see other scientists who we know and respect. But, see problem above--they only need to con one person into lending their name before it cascades. (And good luck getting your name removed from their editorial board.) It creates a chilling effect for unknown/up-and-coming/young scientists to organize conferences or to try to innovate in the publication/conference sphere.

    Fake journals are a symptom of a broader problem, which is for lack of a better term the "neoliberalization" of science. Each science has a few gatekeeper publishers who we all trust and who therefore has editors that we've all heard of. We read them, we cite them, and we know that any new journals they roll out will likewise be active and highly cited. If you want to have access to such journals, you must be at an academic institution that can afford massive subscription fees to thousands of journals. Papers are, however, the currency of academic science, so academics will expend enormous effort to get grant money to do research to ultimately publish a paper. These fake journals have spotted a nice opportunity to skim some of that money the same way spammers work, by relying on that 1-2% that gets duped into publishing a paper, once, or agreeing to serve on an editorial board, once, or agreeing to an "invited talk," once. And the closer they are to an industry, the worse the problem. Drug manufacturers, for example, have a profit motive to publish garbage in pseudo-peer-reviewed journals with real-sounding names.

    Fake journals, the publish-or-perish model, the evaporation of research funding, the over-production of PhD scientists, etc. have combined with the power of the Internet and digital publishing to, ironically, push science back to exactly wh

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