Archive for predatory publishing

Nature on predatory journals

Posted in Books, University life with tags , , , , on January 24, 2020 by xi'an

A (long) comment published in Nature this week studies the impact of predatory journals, with a definition (made by the 32 authors of the comment and 9 others at a special meeting in Ottawa) of what constitutes a predatory journal.

Predatory journals and publishers are entities that prioritize self-interest at the expense of scholarship and are characterized by false or misleading information, deviation from best editorial and publication practices, a lack of transparency, and/or the use of aggressive and indiscriminate solicitation practices.”

The article discusses each term in the definition, terms that remain vague (like what’s a “deviation from best”? A terrible website? May be due to English not being the first language of the journal editors…). In my opinion, the main criterion is the “aggressive and indiscriminate solicitation”  and a lack of actual peer review, which can be easily detected when the paper is accepted within a very short time period. (Which is not to state that journals with a very quick rejection time should be a priori considered as predatory!) High publishing fees are certainly part of the predatory landscape but difficult to detect from established journals, even those backed by national or international societies. My only experience with predatory “publishers”, beyond the constant flow of proposals to send a paper, to edit a special edition and so forth, is a paper sent to a journal with the same title as a regular (Elsevier) journal, modulo a permutation!, and a threat of legal action from another source, which I described as “predatory” for proposing to write a general public paper in their glossy magazine. For the first occurrence, the paper was accepted within a day, we never signed any copyright form, and despite requests to withdraw the paper, it almost immediately got published. Even though we never paid the requested fees.

“Efforts to counter predatory publishing need to be constant and adaptable. The threat is unlikely to disappear as long as universities use how many publications a scholar has produced as a criterion for graduation or career advancement. The publish-or-perish culture, a lack of awareness of predatory publishing and difficulty in discerning legitimate from illegitimate publications fosters an environment for predatory publications to exist. Predatory journals are also quick to adapt to policies and measures designed to foil them.”

It certainly feels impossible to completely counter predatory actions, especially when some researchers seek such publications, but detecting some could be achieved by sending decoys to them, in the form of low-content pseudo-articles that could not pass any serious assessment by a genuine referee. Because no publication is intended, the same decoy could be used over and over by the society initiating the action…

fake conference

Posted in Books, Kids, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2019 by xi'an

One of my (former) master students approached me last week for support to attend an AI conference in London next May, as he had been invited there as a speaker with the prospect of publishing a paper in an AI journal. And very excited about it. As the letter of invitation definitely sounded fake to me and as Conference Series LLC did not seem connected to anything scientific, I had a quick check whether or not this was another instance of predatory conference and indeed the organisation is an outlet of the (in)famous OMICS International company. Setting conferences all around the year and all around the world by charging participants a significant amount and cramming all speakers on potentially any topic in the same room of a suburban motel (near Heathrow in that case). It is somewhat surprising that they still manage to capture victims but if they aim wide enough to cover students like the one who contacted me and had no idea of the possibility of such scams, no wonder the operation is still running. Coincidence, I was reading a news article in Nature, while in Seoul, that “South Korea’s education ministry wants to stop academics from participating in conferences that it considers “weak” and of little academic value”. I hope it works better than India’s earlier attempt at banning publications in predatory journals.

available to discuss your article?

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

[The ultimate fishing email, not even pretending the “editor” has been reading my article!]

Dear Christian P. Robert,

I recently came across the article you wrote a while ago entitled “[Title]” and wanted to get in touch with you to discuss the idea of writing a similar article for the Internal Medicine Review (IMRJ).

I was thinking of either a short review article, or an article which updates the previous article and includes any new data which wasn’t available at the time the previous article was written.

I know you have a busy schedule but I’m hoping you could find time during the next few months to draft an article. I think it would be a valuable addition to the journal and would be welcomed by our readership. I will include some useful links about IMRJ below. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions.

Could you get back to me about this in the next couple of days and share your thoughts?

[A correction email was sent a few days later:]

I just realized that I forgot to include the title of your article which I was referring to in my email yesterday. I apologize for this. It is “Error and inference: an outsider stand on a frequentist philosophy”.

your interesting published article “An introduction to the special issue “

Posted in Books, University life with tags , , , , , on April 1, 2019 by xi'an

In the flow of unsolicited emails interested in publishing my work, a contender for the top call is this one as of today from Computer Communication & Collaboration that cites my foreword to the special issue of Statistics & Computing published out of the talks at MCMski IV in Chamonix. In 2014. (According to the above site, the publisher of the journal, Better Advances Press, does not meet most of its criteria and identified as predatory by Beall’s List, as of January 3, 2017.)

Your interesting published article “An introduction to the special issue “Joint IMS-ISBA meeting – MCMSki 4″” drives me to call for new papers, on behalf of Computer Communication & Collaboration, which is an English quarterly journal in Canada.

This peer-reviewed journal focuses on smart internet and it welcomes papers on general theories of computer science, data communications, multimedia, social network, machine learning, data mining, intelligent collaboration and other relevant topics, both theoretical and empirical.

All papers should be written in professional English. The length of 2000-6000 words is suggested. We accept papers in MS-word or PDF format.

If your paper is qualified for publication after refereeing, it will be published within 2-4 months from the date of submission.

Thank you for your consideration.

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!)