Archive for predatory publishing

Nature & predatory publishers

Posted in Books, University life with tags , , , , , , on November 9, 2021 by xi'an

Nature of 26 October has another article (comment) that I found of general interest, namely a long report on one of the most prolific predatory publishers, OMICS, which got sued by the US Federal Trade Commission for “deceptive business practice”. The authors built a database of articles from fringe publishers. Exhibiting a rebranding of OMICS journals.

“The number of [OMICS] journals has grown faster than the number of publications, suggesting that many journals are shells with little content.”

They also found a massive number of re-published “papers from legitimate sources without crediting the original journal, and sometimes not the original author”. With all kinds of very shoddy attempts at hiding the plagiarism. The obvious problem is that such papers get evaluated by committees and reviewers without being ever read, with the name of the journal playing on the easy confusion with a legitimate journal. Except in the glaringly obvious cases. The recommendations from the authors include requesting for open peer reviews, linking funded publication costs to an adherence to some minimal transparency rules, moving to low-cost institutional platforms, and, more importantly, rewind the evaluation rules in academia so that low-quality, plagiarising, or otherwise illegitimate papers get identified as such, rather than betting on the reviewers spotting an already-known predatory journal or conference…

ABC in Kuala Lumpur [alas not!]

Posted in Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , on May 28, 2020 by xi'an

While attending an “ABC in…” conference in Malaysia would have been most exciting, barring the current difficulties with traveling, especially since I had not heard of it at an earlier stage and also had never visited Malaysia (except when considering that Singapore was was one of the 14 states of Malaysia from 1963 to 1965), the “International Conference on Approximate Bayesian Computation in Science and Engineering”, scheduled for Feb 2021 is alas not the right opportunity! As a fake conference run by WASET, the “World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology”, which runs thousands of conferences every year, usually cramming several of them in the very same room at the very same time in a periphery motel..! As attendees, if any, are not expected to… attend. Judging from the current list of “selected papers”, none of them has any connection with ABC. It would be funny, were it not a swindle of sorts…

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”.

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