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Star Wars Prequels

Predatory Journals Hit By "Star Wars" Sting ( 112

intellitech quotes an article from Discover's Neuroskeptic blog: A number of so-called scientific journals have accepted a Star Wars-themed spoof absurd mess of factual errors, plagiarism and movie quotes. I know because I wrote it... I created a spoof manuscript about "midi-chlorians" -- the fictional entities which live inside cells and give Jedi their powers in Star Wars...and submitted it to nine journals under the names of Dr. Lucas McGeorge and Dr. Annette Kin... The American Journal of Medical and Biological Research accepted the paper, but asked for a $360 fee, which I didn't pay. Amazingly, three other journals not only accepted but actually published the spoof.
At one point the paper simply transcribes dialogue from Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. ("Did you ever hear of the tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise? I thought not. It is not a story the Jedi would tell you....") And the author also cut-and-pasted big chunks of the Wikipedia page for mitochondrion (after globally replacing mitochondr* with midichlor*), then admitted in the paper's "Methodology" section that "The majority of the text in the current paper was Rogeted from Wikipedia" -- with a direct link back to that Wikipedia page. One sentence even mentions "JARJAR syndrome."

Three more journals did reject the paper -- but at least one more unquestioningly asked the author to revise and resubmit it. The author calls it "a reminder that at some 'peer reviewed' journals, there really is no meaningful peer review at all" -- adding that one journal has even invited Dr. Lucas McGeorge to join their editorial board.
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Predatory Journals Hit By "Star Wars" Sting

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  • the profit motive (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cats-paw ( 34890 ) on Sunday July 23, 2017 @02:16PM (#54862795) Homepage

    Isn't that the problem here ?

    Putting make a dollar ahead of honesty. It's a pervasive problem, it's not obvious to me why "scientific journals" would be immune.

    And once again it's a two party problem. The person publishing wants their paper published to put it on their resume, and the journal needs to fill the journal.

    The real question is, who's subscribing to this crap ?

    A more worrisome tin-foil hat idea - I suppose you could create faux journals to show that journals are not trustworthy and use them to cast doubt on legitimate science.

  • by Kunedog ( 1033226 ) on Sunday July 23, 2017 @02:19PM (#54862805) []

    The androcentric scientific and meta-scientific evidence that the penis is the male reproductive organ is considered overwhelming and largely uncontroversial.

    That’s how we began. We used this preposterous sentence to open a “paper” consisting of 3,000 words of utter nonsense posing as academic scholarship. Then a peer-reviewed academic journal in the social sciences accepted and published it.

    • by Brett Buck ( 811747 ) on Sunday July 23, 2017 @03:01PM (#54862991)

      Of course, but "gender studies" isn't a scientific discipline in the first place. It's not even a legitimate branch of social science. This turns peer review into a cheering section, or not, for whatever predispositions the reviewer and author, have. Any notion that it is legitimate science is a complete delusion on the part of the participants. Biology and psychology cover the topic adequately, "gender studies" is a thin veneer over politics.

    • There are predatory journals for every branch of science. They'll all print literally anything and call it peer-reviewed for a fee

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 23, 2017 @02:23PM (#54862823)

    The paper obviously is trash.

    REAL research papers are always paywalled.

  • I think it's clear that the nearly-organized crime groups running these journals don't even speak or read English, such that anything makes its way in that looks like the format / graphical appearance of a paper.
  • Because (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ArchieBunker ( 132337 ) on Sunday July 23, 2017 @02:39PM (#54862903) Homepage

    as I've said before nobody ever reads all these papers. They are beyond dry and near worthless unless you are writing a thesis and need it as a source.

  • by ytene ( 4376651 ) on Sunday July 23, 2017 @03:32PM (#54863083)
    The practices outlined in this research don't just harm the credibility of scientific journals, they also undermine what could be the legitimate work of hard-working scientists who have submitted papers in good faith.

    I can only hope that this analysis gets properly peer-reviewed (to verify if these journals really are publishing charlatans) and then anyone who has submitted legitimate research to these entities demand a full refund. If money changed hands, there is an implicit contract [if not an explicit one] that the publication in question actually performs "peer review" work... It certainly does not appear to be the case here.

    I wonder if the entities named will try and claim this was down to a "rogue reviewer" or that they are actually more of a "vanity publishing" service, just for scientists? Or maybe they'll sue.

    It's odd, isn't it: governments the world over are never short of things that they want to legislate against, but somehow they fail to take account of shady practices like these... I wonder... do you think that the current PoTUS would consider these to be fine, upstanding publishers or "Fake News! Sad!" ???
  • The real issue is that society uses the fact that someone "has published in peer-reviewed journals" as an approval of their work, both in terms of grants, employment at universities, general "prestige" etc. When you can get utter crap published this easily everything obviously falls apart. How many of researchers doing science for a living are actually talented and are actually producing useful/meaningful work? Because if you aren't very good, there's always this escape of publishing their poor quality work
    • Re:The real issue... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by habig ( 12787 ) on Sunday July 23, 2017 @05:09PM (#54863377) Homepage

      How many of researchers doing science for a living are actually talented and are actually producing useful/meaningful work? Because if you aren't very good, there's always this escape of publishing their poor quality work in one of these journals, perpetuating their title as researchers/scientists and allowing them to make a living without any contribution to society.

      Nope. If you're publishing only in crap journals, you're not getting jobs or grants, because the people giving out those grants and hiring people for jobs are generally not morons. If they are, they don't keep their ability to spend that money.

      So, to answer your question: if you're doing science for a living, you're probably producing meaningful work, or you're either a) not doing it for very long; or b) a really really good con man. I suspect the same is true for most fields. What's your field? How's it work there?

      Many people reading slahdot are coders. If someone came on here and broadly proclaimed "all code review is messing only with whitespace, no one really does it, therefore coders must all be frauds", would that fly?

  • They're not Science Journals, they are Science Fiction journals.
    • They're not Science Journals, they are Science Fiction journals.

      You take that back, RIGHT NOW!
      Gardner Dozois
      Donald Wollheim
      Terry Carr

  • by l0n3s0m3phr34k ( 2613107 ) on Sunday July 23, 2017 @10:28PM (#54864499)
    Who used a similar system like this to "game" his way into a high-paying job at a large Fortune 500 company. He plagiarized several presentations on LDAP, self-published a few books, and even went out and got a patent on John Titor's "time machine". He purchased both his Masters and PhD from degree mills. He eventually ended up as a director at Oracle, until he got busted for drugging and raping four women in Portland. Someday I expect there to be a TV movie about him, it's quite a convoluted story.

    My point is, that with just a bit of money and loose ethics, someone can make themselves look quite credible.
  • by LordHighExecutioner ( 4245243 ) on Monday July 24, 2017 @05:24AM (#54865397)
    This makes a good match with the well known Sokal affair []!
  • Chicken chicken, chicken chicken chicken.

    Chicken chicken chicken, chicken. [] Chicken?

  • Join that editorial board and get some money for your troubles.
    Oh, an while there, please save the rest of us from unqualified postings!

"If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed." -- Albert Einstein