The Journal, Publisher, Jeffrey Bill discussed on Science Friction
This is an ABC podcast Sir. Science Fiction Hey on the Tesha Mitchell. Welcome search this week. The pursuit of a Predator as a reporter. You you get all kinds of of little suggestions. Tips complaints yes. And you can't deal with them all. This one intrigued me. I had started to hear about similar complaints and sort of once. You hear enough of of them. The signal adds up. You think. Maybe there's a story here. What was I seeing? What what the clues that? That major smell a rash. I was a researcher myself. I was a faculty librarian at my university and I did a research probably starting five six years ago I I was always looking for publishing opportunities. I started getting letters and I started to receive these emails. Sort of saying extremely nice. Nice things to me that basically said call for Paper Journal Editors Wanting Me To submit my manuscript to their journal and they had lots of grammatical errors in addition to that one in the emails and then generally speaking editor. I don't say very nice things about you and they don't typically they don't write to you and ask you to submit a manuscript. Will you ever tempted to submit. No no I mean I'm a clinical epidemiology in some of these journals were literally from Soil Science Right. Why would somebody from soil science be asking me and saying Nice things about me? They wouldn't no me from anywhere he's smell. I did maybe several but that rash or several thousand rats via now well and truly on the loose predatory publishes and the predatory journals have become a mega industry global in reach ending ending destructive potential. In fact you're going to hear from someone who believes that this industry represents the biggest threat to science since the inquisition Shen the. US Federal Court recently ordered one of the biggest of these companies to pay up over fifty million US dollars. Only international headquartered voted in Hyderabad in India but also operating in the US claims to publish hundreds of scientific and medical journals. It was found to employ deceptive business practices essentially entrapping scientists to other publishing their journals or participate in conferences. So does the ruling site. bye-bye predatory publishes. Well let's see if Any of that money actually moves anywhere. It's not clear with a mix ex-group will cough up that fifty million dollars which is an estimate of how much the company made from customers over a six-year period or whether it will appeal. We sent a list list of questions to its representatives but yet to receive a reply but it is nice clear message to all the Sake Journal. Publishers of the world that they're being watched touched and there could be consequences. John Bohannon a science journalist and now director of science at an artificial intelligence startup in San Fran called primer. They didn't basically slipping under the radar and using American Canadian and European banks to move money millions of dollars of money from elicit gains. So this court ruling basically makes extremely inconvenient to do now. Joan was asked to present evidence in the case brought against the annex group by the US Federal Trade Commission because he'd had an unusually Hansa with the publisher so mix was one of hundreds of publishers offers. That I tested in sting operation. I wrote some computer code to generate thousands of very bad scientific papers. And what happened next these kind of legendary in science circles back in two thousand twelve John was reporting for the Journal. Science and the expression expression predatory journals wasn't in common news There was a guy named Jeffrey. You who was probably the only person around making a big stink about this and trying to actually Shine a light on it. It was very very bold effort. He had something called feels list or at least it became known as beal's list. My name is Jeffrey Bill. And I'm a retired academic librarian from the University of Colorado Denver professor. Beal beal's blacklist fame and a climb and Notaro He was the first to coin. The phrase predatory journals the Journal. Publishers hated being malysz because it stigmatizes them and meant that their income was decreased. Most of the predatory publishers are predatory not only in their publishing but in just the way they operate in general and they would use the heckler's actors veto. They would call the library director and complain about me and they would try to annoy people at my university as much as possible in order to manipulate those people at the university to make me stop the list so that their complaints would stop. I also received several threats of legal action including think it was in twenty twelve international threatened to sue me for one billion dollars one billion dollars. It was just a threat what I learned from it is that you can basically basically pay an attorney five hundred dollars in all right a threatening letter so they they did that but they never followed through with. It was never introduced in any court personal consequences consequences for Jeffrey of running. That black least were immense. And I'll come back to that. One estimate suggests that there are at least eight thousand predatory journals. This is just one publisher of many. But Jeffrey Bill provocatively calls it. The Evil Empire of Predatory Publishing I stand Dan by that statement and what they do is. They've really hurt a lot of people. You know the scholarly publishing system works on the honor system and people operate in good faith but oh mix international has has totally broken all that down. They use a lot of spamming to solicit article manuscripts from researchers they have journal titles that match the titles of respected journals. Usually one word off enough to confuse people that might be the respected journal in the `field they will at People's names to their editorial boards without the person's permission people from top universities top researchers in the field and they'll use their identity to promote the journal and when the person finds out about it and ask them to remove their name. They don't remove it they just leave it there because they're operating operating from foreign country. There's really nothing you can do about it and especially prey on young researchers in emerging researchers researchers who don't speak English as their first language it's not just scientists from developing countries that are targeted although that easing acknowledged problem clinical epidemiologist. David Mo- assays the crosses reaches into some of America's most delayed institutions including Harvard in an analysis that we did where we looked at a close to two thousand thousand articles published in Predator journals. We found that actually the most frequent corresponding authors were from what we would call first. World countries countries would lots of money and lots of resources that is troubling very very troubling because it suggests that at these institutions authors may not Be Aware of predatory journals and we need to obviously ramp up some educational activities. People think that they're sending the manuscript to a legitimate respected journal. When it's really just a phony dough mix international journal and then they quickly accept the paper without any peer review and then send them an invoice and at that point the authors realized that something is wrong because There was really no peer reviewed done yet. The papers accepted and they have this two thousand dollars invoice that comes through email and the olmecs demanding payment. Most of them asked to withdraw the paper when they realized that they've been duped. But then oh mix says has you can't withdraw your paper unless you pay US withdrawal fee. An often than olmecs will publish the article quickly and one of their journals and then and they can't submit it anywhere else. Because that would be duplicate submission it would be publishing the same article twice. which is something not supposed to do that? Nothing about predatory regionals. He's what he's supposed to happening science as John Bowen discovered when he sent them a taste. Yes yeah so I just wanted some data. It's frustrating to have such an enticing story of you know bad actors that Potentially Ricky and millions of ill gotten dollars dollars and not get some data to find out if it's true so we appear stay in molecular biology from Oxford oppy slave. He plotted an experiment which was pretty straightforward. And the idea in a nutshell is if I submit a really and I mean truly bad scientific paper to your journal title and you accept it with no sign of any peer review and you ask me for money then you're you're a fake journal publisher. Yeah John Wanted to test how easy it was to get published in a predatory journal it can usually take many months years even to get a pipe into a reputable scientific journal. And even then it's not a given. That's partly because of what's called Peer Review essential to the scientific process. So you do an experiment. You brought it up reporting your results. Submitted to a journal and then it gets pulled to shreds.