Archive for predatory publishing

research outreach wants to improve my public image [ltd]

Posted in Books, University life with tags , , , , , on February 17, 2019 by xi'an

I have received this most bizarre email (links are mine):

Dear Dr. Christian Robert,

Please excuse the direct nature of this contact, however I would like to speak with you regarding your work on the Accelerating MCMC algorithms study.

Research Outreach work in collaboration with research teams assisting with their Public Outreach activity, through means of a professionally produced series of publications and articles aimed at a broader audience. I understand Public Outreach is a very important issue within the research community – where it is often difficult to obtain large numbers of views and interactions.

We are currently working on our April 2019 edition. This publication will feature a wide variety of science disciplines, including approximately 28 research articles. We would like you to be one of those featured. My suggestion is that we might create a new article, possibly covering some basic details of the published paper I have seen online, or indeed, covering new ground or the wider scope of your work. This would be an entirely new article written and developed by Research Outreach, in close collaboration with you.

Research Outreach distributes all content, publications and your individual article, across major Social Media platforms, as well as our own website. Your work will be seen by a large and quantifiable global audience. We are a non-profit community company, all content we produce is free to share and can be downloaded by any reader. Our website is entirely transparent and answers any questions you may have.

I have briefly looked over the details of your work and believe Research Outreach to be an effective platform to communicate your outreach requirements. We publish under the Creative Commons Licence and you will own the copyright to your published material, and we can send you a separate PDF download, to be used on your web-page, at events, conferences, or as outreach material for students etc.

Please have a look at our website for examples of the publications we produce and further detail on our objectives and services. I can assure you the entire process requires very little work on your part, less than 1 hour, over a 10-week process. Some of the services we provide are paid for, this means there is a cost to you if you decide to take part. I would be delighted to explain this and our editorial process. I understand your time is limited.

Rather than writing any further detail, could we please find 5 minutes to discuss? During our call, I can answer any questions you may have and explain in detail the requirements and cost for taking part and of course the benefits of doing so.

This sounds rather predatory to me, since I have to pay this company to produce a paper I (co?)authored, and of dubious academic worth if I spend less than one hour on the project. When looking at the issues on-line, the contents of the articles seem quite light, with glossy images not always related with the topic of the journal article. If not predatory, then a sort of advertising agency for academics?! Weird times…

 

predatory but not that smart…

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , on May 27, 2018 by xi'an

An email I received earlier this week, quite typical of predatory journals seeking names for their board, but unable to distinguish comments from papers, statistics from mathematical physics, or to spot spelling mistakes:

Dear Christian P. Rober,

Greetings and good day.

I represent Editorial Office of Whioce Publishing Pte. Ltd. from Singapore. We have come across your recent article, “Comments on: Natural induction: An objective Bayesian approach” published in RACSAM – Revista de la Real Academia de Ciencias Exactas, Fisicas y Naturales. Serie A. Matematicas. We feel that the topic of this article is very interesting. Therefore, we are delighted to invite you to join the Editorial Board of our journal, entitled International Journal of Mathematical Physics We also hope that you can submit your future work in our journal. Please reply to this email if you are interested in joining the Editorial Board.

I look forward to hearing your positive response. Thank you for your kind consideration.

 

Springer no more!

Posted in Books, Kids, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , on April 4, 2018 by xi'an

Just learned that, starting from tomorrow night, I will not have access to any of the Springer journals, as the negotiations between the consortium of French universities, research institutes, higher educations schools, and museums, failed. The commercial published refusing to stem the ever increasing fees, while happily taking in the fast increasing open access fees it pressures from authors, a unique example of triple taxation (researchers’ salaries, open access duties, and enormous non-negotiable subscription rates for the whole package of journals)… Following their German counterparts. Well, this is an opportunity for the boards of all these journals to withdraw and create the phantom version of their formal journal, evaluating and reviewing papers already available on arXiv! And I should definitely get my acts together, rise from my winter-is-coming lethargy, and launch PCI Comput Stat now!!!

a lifetime word limit…

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, University life with tags , , , on November 20, 2017 by xi'an

“Exceptions might have to be made for experts such as statisticians and bioinformaticians whose skills are required on many papers.”

One of these weird editorials periodically occurring in Nature. By Brian Martinson, suggesting that the number of words allotted to a scientist should be capped. Weird, indeed, and incomprehensible that Nature wastes one of its so desperately sought journal page on such a fantastic (in the sense of fantasy, not as in great!) proposal. With sentences like “if we don’t address our own cognitive biases and penchant for compelling narratives, word limits could exacerbate tendencies to publish only positive findings, leading researchers to explore blind alleys that others’ negative results could have illuminated” not making much sense even in this fantasy academic world… As for the real world, the list of impossibilities and contradictions stemming from this proposal would certainly eat all of my allotted words. Even those allotted to a statistician. The supreme irony of the (presumably tongue-in-cheek) editorial is that the author himself does not seem particularly concerned by capping his own number of papers! (Nice cover, by the way!)

stop the rot!

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 26, 2017 by xi'an

Several entries in Nature this week about predatory journals. Both from Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. One emanates from the publication officer at the Institute, whose role is “dedicated to educating researchers and guiding them in their journal submission”. And telling the tale of a senior scientist finding out a paper submitted to a predatory journal and later rescinded was nonetheless published by the said journal. Which reminded me of a similar misadventure that occurred to me a few years ago. After having a discussion of an earlier paper therein rejected from The American Statistician, my PhD student Kaniav Kamary and I resubmitted it to the Journal of Applied & Computational Mathematics, from which I had received an email a few weeks earlier asking me in flowery terms for a paper. When the paper got accepted as such two days after submission, I got alarmed and realised this was a predatory journal, which title played with the quasi homonymous Journal of Computational and Applied Mathematics (Elsevier) and International Journal of Applied and Computational Mathematics (Springer). Just like the authors in the above story, we wrote back to the editors, telling them we were rescinding our submission, but never got back any reply or request of copyright transfer. Instead, requests for (diminishing) payments were regularly sent to us, for almost a year, until they ceased. In the meanwhile, the paper had been posted on the “journal” website and no further email of ours, including some from our University legal officer, induced a reply or action from the journal…

The second article in Nature is from a group of epidemiologists at the same institute, producing statistics about biomedical publications in predatory journals (characterised as such by the defunct Beall blacklist). And being much more vehement about the danger represented by these journals, which “articles we examined were atrocious in terms of reporting”, and authors submitting to them, as unethical for wasting human and animal observations. The authors of this article identify thirteen characteristics for spotting predatory journals, the first one being “low article-processing fees”, our own misadventure being the opposite. And they ask for higher control and auditing from the funding institutions over their researchers… Besides adding an extra-layer to the bureaucracy, I fear this is rather naïve, as if the boundary between predatory and non-predatory journals was crystal clear, rather than a murky continuum. And putting the blame solely on the researchers rather than sharing it with institutions always eager to push their bibliometrics towards more automation of the assessment of their researchers.

your topic is so much impressive

Posted in University life with tags , , , on August 5, 2017 by xi'an

An email from a predatory “journal” I received last week end… With presumably all other speakers at MCqMC 2016. Items of [moderate] interest after looking at the “journal” website:

  • weird wording
  • no mention is made in the email of the $650 required for publish a paper
  • the Editorial Board is inexistent to the point there is no Editor and the page calls for applications

Elsevier in the frontline

Posted in Books, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 27, 2017 by xi'an

“Viewed this way, the logo represents, in classical symbolism, the symbiotic relationship between publisher and scholar. The addition of the Non Solus inscription reinforces the message that publishers, like the elm tree, are needed to provide sturdy support for scholars, just as surely as scholars, the vine, are needed to produce fruit. Publishers and scholars cannot do it alone. They need each other. This remains as apt a representation of the relationship between Elsevier and its authors today – neither dependent, nor independent, but interdependent.”

There were two items of news related with the publishark Elsevier in the latest issue of Nature I read. One was that Germany, Peru, and Taiwan had no longer access to Elsevier journals, after negotiations or funding stopped. Meaning the scientists there have to find alternative ways to procure the papers, from the authors’ webpage [I do not get why authors fail to provide their papers through their publication webpage!] to peer-to-peer platforms like Sci-Hub. Beyond this short term solution, I hope this pushes for the development of arXiv-based journals, like Gower’s Discrete Analysis. Actually, we [statisticians] should start planing a Statistics version of it!

The second item is about  Elsevier developing its own impact factor index, CiteScore. While I do not deem the competition any more relevant for assessing research “worth”, seeing a publishark developing its own metrics sounds about as appropriate as Breithart News starting an ethical index for fake news. I checked the assessment of Series B on that platform, which returns the journal as ranking third, with the surprising inclusion of the Annual Review of Statistics and its Application [sic], a review journal that only started two years ago, of Annals of Mathematics, which does not seem to pertain to the category of Statistics, Probability, and Uncertainty, and of Statistics Surveys, an IMS review journal that started in 2009 (of which I was blissfully unaware). And the article in Nature points out that, “scientists at the Eigenfactor project, a research group at the University of Washington, published a preliminary calculation finding that Elsevier’s portfolio of journals gains a 25% boost relative to others if CiteScore is used instead of the JIF“. Not particularly surprising, eh?!

When looking for an illustration of this post, I came upon the hilarious quote given at the top: I particularly enjoy the newspeak reversal between the tree and the vine,  the parasite publishark becoming the support and the academics the (invasive) vine… Just brilliant! (As a last note, the same issue of Nature mentions New Zealand aiming at getting rid of all invasive predators: I wonder if publishing predators are also included!)