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The fake journal trend

It’s really easy to set up a completely fake peer-reviewed journal, which is a great boon to pseudoscientists, quacks, creationists, and con artists. They can be tripped up, though, since they aren’t aware of all the inside jokes and strange habits of scientists. Here’s one, a journal called “Molecular Biology”, that was exposed because they were a little to eager to recruit “editors”…editors who would never be called upon to edit anything, but would just provide a name for window dressing.

I’m delighted to inform you that Peter Uhnemann from the
 Daniel-Duesentrieb Institute in Germany was just appointed
 editor of the OMICS journal “Molecular Biology”:


http://www.omicsgroup.org/journals/editorialboardMBL.php


For those of you who don’t know Peter Uhnemann: he is a fake
 person invented by the German satirical magazine Titanic.
 They created an FB account for him to make fun of social
 networks (he soon befriended on FB with various German
 politicians).



For those of you who don’t know Daniel Duesentrieb: this is
 the German name of the Walt Disney comic figure Gyro Gearloose.



For those of you who don’t know the OMICS journals: these
 are junk journals spamming around invitations to join their
 editorial boards.

On their web page they say that

 “election of the “right” editor for a journal is one of the
 most important decisions made by OMICS Publishing Group …
 Editors, Executive Editors & Editor-in- Chief of journals
 must be senior researchers, e.g. chaired professors.”

 As it looks, Peter Uhnemann from the Daniel-Duesentrieb
 Institute meets these criteria.

If you accepted an offer to join the editorial board of this journal and are on this list, you might want to get off of it fast — you’re being associated with a spammy bit of fraud. I’m looking at you, Peter Duesberg.

(Also on Sb)

Comments

  1. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    I discovered earlier this year what a scam these OMICS journals are by submitting an article to a new online journal that was much more difficult to spot, having a fairly credible looking editorial board. We assumed that the very light review that we received was due to the field (one in which only one of the co-authors had published, and reported to be not that rigorous)and the fact that the journal was so new. The turnaround was remarkably quick, and they had a poorly copyedited version online within days of our having submitted revisions, and without the usual copyright waivers. At this point they tried to charge us $3600 for publication costs…on a four page paper.

    Without getting into the tedious details of what followed, I would just warn scientists not to bother with this publishing group whatsoever.

  2. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    I should note that probably few of the members of the editorial board likely agreed to “serve” in that position.

    See the discussion at chronicle.com

  3. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    Further, many of the OMICS journals claim to be accessible through large scholary databases (like PubMed). This claim, as far as I can tell, is certainly false.

  4. raven says

    Fake journals are getting more and more common in medicine.

    They are easy to set up and anyone with the time and moderate computer skills can do so. They are of course, the domain of various quacks and conpeople.

    So you end up with such journals as:

    The Journal of Vaccines cause Autism

    The Journal of HIV doesn’t cause AIDS

    The Journal of Germ Theory of Disease is Wrong

    The Journal of Homeopathic Cancer Treatment

    The Journal of Austism Treatment Quacks

    Pubmed, The National Library of Medicine picks a lot of these Fake Journals up and puts them in their data base. I suspect the whole process is done by robots these days.

    So now it is searcher beware. If you know they exist, it is easy to pick them out. Frequently, they have a small group of fringe pseudoscientists who publish in them and they mostly cite each other.

  5. jnorris says

    Peter Uhnemann has a lot of subscribers and I am proud to say I am the newest.

    I get requests for research at a university library. I plan to have a list of their journals at my desk. I hope someone asks for an article.

  6. leftwingfox says

    For those of you who don’t know Daniel Duesentrieb: this is
 the German name of the Walt Disney comic figure Gyro Gearloose.



    Are you sure he wasn’t appointed editor of the cOMICS Journal?

  7. cbv says

    As a current resident of Germany I can safely say that there is no such thing as a Daniel Duesentrieb Institute.

    Besides, Peter Uhnemann is an invention of one of Germany’s most popular satirical magazine, called Titanic, or rather, the idea of one of their authors, Oliver Maria Schmitt.

  8. cbv says

    Note to self: Sometimes it’s a good idea to read the whole article before writing a comment …

  9. says

    A number of years ago, I interviewed for a position with a prestigious biomedical publisher. The job basically entailed creating and running pay-for-play medical journals.

    You want fast turn-around and minimal peer review? We’ve got the journal for you. Write a check, get published. 6-week turn-around guaranteed.

    I dropped myself out of the running for the job. Just as I didn’t pursue that job with the National Enquirer several years previous to that. I’m a free enterprise guy — but with some scruples.

    BTW: the publisher was Elsevier.

  10. DLC says

    They had such a great opportunity there. If only they’d had the name Computer OMICS. they’d have been COMICS. a label entirely suiting the nature of the so-called journals they produce.

  11. tdberg says

    Kevin @12, you know that is not true. I work for a society-owned health science journal that currently has a publishing contract with Elsevier. Elsevier does not publish any pay-to-publish journals. They have explicitly rejected that publishing model. That’s the main reason that they’ve been criticized so heavily by open-access advocates. Further, given my many years of experience in working with Elsevier’s production department, I can safely say that it would be physically impossible for an Elsevier journal to publish a paper within six weeks of submission. They don’t work that fast.

    PZ, with all due respect, does it not occur to you that all of these scam journals are open-access pay-to-publish? There are certainly some reputable pay-to-publish journals — we love PLoS, BMC not so much — but the pay-to-publish model inherently suffers from publication bias. Soliciting money in exchange for publishing a scientific paper introduces clear ethical issues.

  12. David Marjanović says

    Düsen(an)trieb = jet propulsion. Trieb = drive.

    The turnaround was remarkably quick, and they had a poorly copyedited version online within days of our having submitted revisions, and without the usual copyright waivers. At this point they tried to charge us $3600 for publication costs…

    What? Not any earlier? How utterly stupid of them.

    BMC not so much

    Why? (I’m not very familiar with BMC.)

  13. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    What? Not any earlier? How utterly stupid of them.

    Maybe most authors go into the process glad of the opportunity to pay for a pub. I don’t know.

    We still are not happy with the result of that experience, but at least we didn’t pay what they asked.

  14. tdberg says

    I am chagrined to note that Elsevier recently launched five pay-to-publish journals. However, in glancing over the guidance for these journals, I see no reason to question the rigor of their processes. Publishing fees range from $392/article for The International Journal of Surgery Case Reports to $5000 for Cell Reports, though Cell Reports was launched as part of the prestigious Cell Press brand. They certainly don’t guarantee a six-week turnaround; Cell Reports timeline is about 6 months from submission to publication.

    So I apologize to Kevin for doubting his story, though I still have issues with the way in which it was presented. He raises an ethical issue that is inherent in all pay-to-publish models, then lays it at the feet of everyone’s favorite bogeyman, Elsevier, when clearly Elsevier is a latecomer to the pay-to-publish model, and pay-to-publish represents a miniscule fraction of Elsevier’s catalog.

    Fundamentally, the problem is that we treat scientific publishing as a business in the first place. I don’t see the utility of attacking one business model and ignoring the inherent flaws of a competing business model.

    Disseminating scientific findings requires resources. Someone needs to provide those resources. I think the only way to do this in a truly ethical and unbiased manner would be for the public to provide those resources. If we were an enlightened society, all scientific research would be publicly financed, results would be published with publicly provided resources, and all scientific knowledge would thus be publicly owned.

    But we live in completely different political environment than that, so scientific publishing is a business, instead.

  15. culch says

    Mostly I read political sites, where the comments are adamant and often nasty. It’s a pleasure to read a thread where the commenters are self-correcting,and have direct relevant experience.

  16. yubal says

    BMC not so much

    Why? (I’m not very familiar with BMC.)

    I second this question.

    I was recently looking around for a suitable journal to publish my latest research and came across a BMC journal that looked appropriate for the manuscript to me.

  17. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    yubal: I have read a number of papers in BMC Evolutionary Biology and I haven’t noticed any lack of rigor. My tuppence.

  18. jessie says

    OK, this explains why I get spam-like invitations to submit my articles to journals that aren’t at all related to what I actually have done research in.

  19. yubal says

    Antiochus: My concern was more about the publication process. I read a few BMC papers concerning my field(s) and can not say there was anything different from what I would expect from articles in other journals.

    There was the notion by tdberg that implied there might be some specialties when submitting with BMC. I know roughly how PloS handles the submission process, but I am totally unfamiliar with BMC in that regard.

  20. alexandra14c says

    I’ve been getting so much of this kind of spam recently. Also invitations to conferences I’ve never heard of before that have huge conference fees. What I want to know is who falls for that? Who is like YES! I just got invited as a speaker at an obscure conference in a field that I don’t actually work in! No one I know is going so I’m gonna pony up the money!

  21. madscientist says

    One more reason why we need free open journals issued via a government agency – at the moment anyone can set up such a ‘journal’ and you have to do some work to find out if it’s garbage or not. Joe Ordinary has little hope of seeing that, say, Joe Mercola is a money-grubbing lying sack of shit.

  22. Rick says

    I like tdberg’s point –

    If we were an enlightened society, all scientific research would be publicly financed, results would be published with publicly provided resources, and all scientific knowledge would thus be publicly owned.

    The merits of the current publishing scheme (beg-to-publish)has its own inherit bias built in. “The so-called top journals value novelty and unexpected findings”, hence many good studies never see the light of day. Insignificant or expected results are just as important to our understanding.

    So considering the two we currently have, we get only the cherry picked articles, and the most questionable. Everything in between is lost to obscurity. That should NOT be the case. Given the ignorance of the general public and their inability to distinguish good journals from bad (or studies), it’s creating a situation wherein science looks bad.

  23. says

    Thanks for posting this. I don’t know what to make of this trend yet, but I’m glad that some people are exploiting OMICS’s loose standards to comic effect.

    #18

    Disseminating scientific findings requires resources. Someone needs to provide those resources. I think the only way to do this in a truly ethical and unbiased manner would be for the public to provide those resources. If we were an enlightened society, all scientific research would be publicly financed, results would be published with publicly provided resources, and all scientific knowledge would thus be publicly owned.

    I like this idea in principle. But I’d like to see an estimate of how much it would cost. I’d bet that few non-scientists would suffer a significant tax hike to support public research that they are unlikely to ever read. Much would have to change about our culture of science literacy (or a greater sense of urgency about the issue) for such an idea to gain support. Or a bunch of rich academic scientists with a powerful lobby. ;-)

  24. christophburschka says

    “Peter Uhnemann” is nowhere to be found on that list, so I guess they reacted quickly.

  25. says

    Continuing #32: On second thought, I’m not sure I’d want members of Congress deciding which journals to fund. Yuck. Perhaps that’s what you meant by “If we were an enlightened society,” tdberg.

  26. yubal says

    # 32 alejb

    I’d bet that few non-scientists would suffer a significant tax hike to support public research that they are unlikely to ever read.

    Agreed.

    In contrast, Scientist publish their papers for each other, not for the general audience. Even if the general audience would be able to read scientific primary literature for free, they would not like the format or do not understand the jargon.

    Your point addressees the issue of science communication and the (low) standards of scientific journalism.

    That is how you approach the non-scientific public. Hard stuff explained easy. If you do that in an academic publication, your colleagues will rip you in pieces.

    You have the technical side in print, then you need someone to translate it for the public. Without making it wrong, or making it too complicate. Not everyone out there holds a degree in science, but many people are interested in scientific findings.