Weekend reads: Academics go to court, hijacked journals

booksAnother busy week at Retraction Watch, with Ivan in Seoul speaking on research integrity at the Korean Medical Association conference. Here’s what was happening elsewhere:

10 thoughts on “Weekend reads: Academics go to court, hijacked journals”

  1. Einstein apparently wasn’t crazy about blind peer review.

    Briefly recounted with more detail by the APS here. It seems that he wasn’t crazy about rejections, unless Physical Review just started using peer review between 1935 and 1936.

      1. My modest contribution and as a first step to understanding the impact fo retractions in plant science*. After submission to 10 plant science journals, all of whom have rejected this and 4 other post-publication peer review papers related to retractions, all based on the fact that such issues are “out of scope”, I was left with no option to turn to a Beall-listed OA “predator”. Hope its useful to someone because the plant science community is acting like its mute, deaf and blind.
        Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva (2014) Recent retraction cases in plant science that show why post-publication peer review is essential. Journal of Advancement in Engineering and Technology 1(3): 4 pp (DOI: 10.15297/JAET.V1I3.03). http://scienceq.org/archive.php?jname=aet&jid=aet0614333&tit= Recent retraction cases in plant science that show why post-publication peer review is essential#.U6_7slqCjIU

        1. Jaime, congratulated with this new publication. The website of this publisher indicates that you don’t need to pay to get your paper published. Is that right? Would you mind to tell something about your experiences with the rigor of peer-review to get it accepted?

          1. Dear Klaas. Good observation and good questions. No need for congratulations. We should be embarrassed to have to write about these issues. But someone has to take the initiative in plant science, at least.
            The publisher, ScienceQ, is listed on Beall’s list. I was fully aware of this before I published the paper there, and actually used the “predatory” publisher to mock ScienceQ. So, this paper has served two purposes in fact. The peer reviewers we suggest, and I recommended three peers in plant science that I knew, and indicated this clearly to the journal upon submission. Since the peers were known, I indicated to the journal that it was the correct thing to add them to the acknowledgements, and to publically declare their contributions to the intellectual improvement of the paper, similar to what F1000 Research does. The editor indicated that this was unethical (why?) and wiped off the acknowledgements. So, from my experience, I can state that there was peer review and quality control, but only because I listed three known, but critical plant scientists who would give critique. I can indicate that the person who was claiming to be the Editor-in-Chief, Helen R. I believe this is a fake name.
            To give you a small taste of the bad quality and the real struggles we face when trying to find new channels for publishing, see my verbatim e-mail to “Helen R” after ScienceQ messed up my 4th version of the proof:
            “On 26-06-2014, Jaime wrote:
            Dear Editor, ScienceQ JEAT,
            A nice attempt to fix the proof. Thank you for the fourth version.
            The link on reference 20 is still not linking correctly (you placed a space between the 8 and the 9, so this gives a 404 error message. Please use ONLY this link: http://www.jhortscib.org/Vol89/89_3/19.htm
            Also, reference 27 is not linking. Please use this web-link and add the address that actualy links (mybe you need to tweak the % and other marks to ensure the web0site links): http://www.gbtrp.com/journal/ijbt%20volume%20no%204(2)/ijbt150813104.pdf
            Finally, reference 30 is also not working. Please use ONLY this web-site:
            Maybe the 5th proof will be working (hopefully).
            Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva
            On Thursday, June 26, 2014 2:54 PM, “editor.jaet@scienceq.org” wrote:
            Dear Silva,
            because of the double column alignment web-links appears to be broken but still it will go to the complete webpage.. i did check all the links and change alignment of few links too.
            Yours sincerely,
            Helen R
            ScienceQ Editorial system.”
            the publisher is Ezhilarasan V (who is currently doing his PhD at a Taiwanese university. Her is an e-mail from Ezhilarasan on February 6, 2014, after I detected dozens of problems with his web-site, journals and editor boards, web-site functionality, etc. and confronted him about it:
            “On Thursday, February 6, 2014 3:37 PM, Editor-in-Chief wrote:
            Dear Silva,
            This is my dream project, i dont want this to mix with my academics. this work has nothing to do with my school or supervisor. Currently, I am in a year of break to start my journals.
            literally my journals are not even starts until i receive ISSN no. ISSN is the first step, later only we can proceed with DOI and all other formal progress. many authors wont even prefer to submit their research to a newly starting journal. getting a good quality papers will be possible after a period of progress only
            you should know that, we can not justify a journal about to begin after two years only we can analyze it. impact factor of Thomson Reuter and all the analysis will be done after two years of progress only.
            do you know how many journals are started every day, just in India around 10 journals each day. no one will care how many starts it matter how many survive and supports for authors for a longer period.
            i am planning to charge on basis of author choice just for maintenance. hope i can let it to be free for long time.
            you will never get justifications like i did from any other publisher. I am dare to face all the questions because I am doing all the progress legally.
            you should not claim for internal data of a publishing. until, you become a part of it.
            I am really happy to subject my titles under you score evaluation it should done after a year at least. now i have only around 5 plus individually.. its not a good subjecting count to analysis. i think you should know more about publishing and its ethics. so that you can make a good evaluation of a journal. if i put your score on my site now people will laugh.
            India is a place where all the data works and alignment of Springer, omics,Elsevier and so many reputed publisher in the world. because of less pay and high quality work. i was part of a major typesetting company hold a share in Elsevier and springer.
            regarding Editorial board choice. its done after a formal acceptance of professors holding respectable positions in their school with good list of publication and reorganization. you did mail to all my Editors i am sure that no one would have deny it.
            please make sure it reach all you did contact regarding this discussion.
            Ezhilarasan V
            SEO. ScienceQ”
            I should thank Jeffrey Beall for drawing my attention to this publisher on January 23, 2014: http://scholarlyoa.com/2014/01/23/science-q-lifting-brand-name-value-from-q-science/
            Their free publishing has not only allowed me to expose some problems with plant science and what retractions mean (a reality that mainstream Elsevier and Springer plant science journals are trying to actively avoid dealing with), it has given me a great personal experience with ScienceQ that now completes my personal assessment of this academically fraudulent publisher.
            So, Klaas, to answer your question:
            Was it worth publishing in Science Q? Most definitely yes, because it was free, I got the quality control which I self implemented, but which I can clearly see being abused by 99% of the authors (because they can select their peer reviewers). Would I recommend it for scientific papers? Maybe. For example, if you are prepared to pay Elsevier/Springer’s 2000-3000 US$ open access fee for a single PDF file, or the hundreds or thousands charged by other OA publishers, then I would say no, go ahead and waste your money but aim for something higher. But if you are on a tight budget, if you feel that what you have is moderate, good, or valid, and are willing to subject it to a strangely skewed peer review, but which you can use to instill a relatively high level of self-imposed quality control, then I would say, why not? Just because we know that Helen R is a fraudulent and fake name doesn’t mean that the process I basically devised to lead to this paper’s publication hasn’t had the desired effect I wanted, namely to draw open access attention to the problems in plant science retractions using 8 cases, and drawing simultaneous attention to ScienceQ’s shenanigans.
            A scientist who is willing to risk testing journals can be stung (as I was in this Serbian Journal, Archives of Biological Sciences* (yes, I lay public claim that this is about my paper!)), but one can also draw benefit to feed a just cause, too.
            * http://scholarlyoa.com/2014/06/12/serbian-journal-accepts-paper-in-24-hours-with-no-peer-review-demands-eur-1785/

        2. I am disturbed about the two Mehrdad Jalalian papers. I am interested in this topic because one such journal, Botahlia, affects plant science. When things hit home, we tend to pay closer attention.

          Not so much about the fact that journal hijacking may be real, and concern us all, but by the claims this author makes apparently without evidence. For example, in the 2014 paper published in a paper which Beall in fact recommends* readers should read**, Jalalian writes: “The cybercriminals have cheated thousands of professors and Ph.D. scholars mostly from developing countries and those who were in the urgent need of publishing their articles in journals that are covered by the Journal Citation Report (a Thomson Reuters’ product).” He also states, in his June 12, 2014 list: “Also, they integrated their hijacked journals with some scientific conferences to show how expert they are in cheating thousands of postgraduate students and university professors all around the world.” Where is the EXACT list of these “thousands” of professors, the fact that these sites or their owners are “cybercriminals”, proof of these “integrated” attacks, and how is Jalalian aware that these thousands of academics have been cheated financially? Please note the dates of Jalalian’s paper in Walailak Journal of Science and Technology: “Received: 2 February 2014, Revised: 4 February 2014, Accepted: 6 February 2014”.

          Jalalian uses terminology such as “cyber-criminals” and “online hoodlums” in an “academic” paper. Is this OK?

          In the abstract of the 2014 WJST paper, he uses a quotation in the very first sentence: “hijacked journals being imposed on the academic world by the huge increase in the number of bogus publishers and spurious websites”. Whose quote is that?

          In his “hijacked list” linked to here through RW, he states “However, “Journal hijacking” is a new term that was first introduced in academia early 2012 after cyber-criminals hijacked three journals using the titles “Texas Journal of Science” (from the United States), “Archives des Sciences” (from Switzerland), and “Wulfenia Journal” (from Austria), all were detected and reported by Mehrdad Jalalian for the first time in the history of journal hijacking (1, 2, 3). Later, other researchers detected more cases of journal hijacking.”
          Related to this quote, I have three questions:
          a) who was the first person to use the term journal hijacking? Was it Jalalian (he seems to be claiming ownership of this term);
          b) He claims to have detected and reported the TSJ, Archives des Sciences and Wulfenia Journal stories, but does not indicate the exact dates, nor to whom he reported these cases to.
          c) He states that “other researchers” detected more cases. But no references or names are provided. He has the responsibility of attributing these discoveries to the appropriate “researchers.”

          He never seems to acknowledge Beall directly, although most of my personal knowledge of journal hijacking has stemmed from awareness created on Beall’s blog. So, how does the author explain his link with Beal and Beall’s interaction and involvement in a factual time-frame? Beall does not actually name his sources, which is unfortunate, but he does make this claim on January 24, 2014***: “the table below details hijacked journals (and their legitimate counterparts) that I documented previously.” For the historical record, I think it is important for Beall and Jalaian to please indicate exactly who has provided the source of information, who used the term “journal hijacking” first, because both these individuals seem to be laying claim to the first “discoveries”. I did notice one word which Beall and Jalalian did use in common quite frequently: “bogus”.

          Most importantly, I call on Jalalian to publically indicate the exact sources of his knowledge about the 19 hijacked journals in his paper, to provide the peer reviewer reports of his paper accepted in 4 days, and to provide evidence to support claims listed above, and others, including “Hacking the credit cards of authors+ Money laundering”

          In closing, it should be noted very clearly that the ISSN assigns different ISSN numbers to journals with the same name, so we need, very urgently, for Beall and Jalalian to please come forward and add all the proof on the table that true hijacking has taken place, and to indicate f any of these “hijacked” journals have received a valid ISSN number. If so, then the ISSN should be held accountable, too.

          * http://scholarlyoa.com/other-pages/hijacked-journals/
          ** http://wjst.wu.ac.th/index.php/wjst/article/view/1004
          *** http://scholarlyoa.com/2014/01/21/have-i-discovered-the-source-of-the-hijacked-journals/#more-2942

          1. Addendum. From Jalalian’s 2013 paper*: “We read with great interest a paper in the journal “Nature” in which Declan Butler reported two sham journals that were scamming authors (1). Similarly, an article entitled “Scientific Articles Accepted (Personal Checks, Too)” was published in The New York Times recently (2).” And from Jalalian’s 2014 paper**: “We read with great interest the paper in the journal “Nature” in which Declan Butler reported 2 sham journals that were scamming authors [1].” and “A similar story entitled “Scientific Articles Accepted (Personal Checks, Too)” was published in The New York Times recently [2],”
            * http://www.ephysician.ir/2013/685-686.pdf
            ** http://wjst.wu.ac.th/index.php/wjst/article/view/1004
            he is editor-in-chief of ePhysician (http://www.ephysician.ir/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10&Itemid=36), which is promoted on his personal / professional web-page (http://www.mehrdadjalalian.com/), and he states, clearly in section 4 (http://www.ephysician.ir/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=12&Itemid=23) “We have a Zero Tolerance to academic misconduct including “Duplicate Publication”, “Salami Publication” and “Plagiarism”. All of the manuscripts are under strict investigation regarding any potential unethical conduct.”
            Jalalian is a member of World Association of Medical Editors (WAME).

          2. The websites of the duplicate journals present themselves as being the official journal of this or that scholarly organisation; they quote the same ISSN as the legitimate journals; they copy the entire editorial panels of the legitimate journals; and they charge large fees to have contributors’ papers placed upon their websites. Since they are *not* the legitimate journals, it seems fair enough to use “cyber-criminals” to describe the fraud.

            Where is the EXACT list of these “thousands” of professors,
            It is hard to be sure how many researchers have been duped. I spent some time (probably too much time) looking at tables-of-contents for some of these journals, and checking titles, and it turns out that many of the author lists and titles have actually been copied from elsewhere (often from other vanity journals), presumably to bolster the impression that the journals are widely used by the community. It is certainly possible to find people citing their hijacked-journal publications on their ResearchGate or Academia or Google Scholar pages. Whether all such authors were actually *duped* is another question, if it was their universities who paid the fees.

            Most importantly, I call on Jalalian to publically indicate the exact sources of his knowledge about the 19 hijacked journals in his paper
            I can own up to tipping him off about a couple of the titles on his list (also sending the same information to Jeffrey Beall). It is not something I want to claim credit for, as it indicates the use of too much spare time.

  2. Any economist and/or anyone else would like to give some comments on the contents (text, figures, calculations, used models, methods, etc.) of the new thesis of dr Karima Kourtit?

    In May 2013, her former thesis was retracted by VU University Amsterdam, just one day before she would get her PhD. The defence of this new thesis took place at VU University Amsterdam on 25 June 2014.

    I have tried to read parts of this thesis, but I often fail to understand what has been written down. Please be aware that I am not an economist. I tend to agree with Dutch economists that the scientific level of this thesis seems to be extremely low, but I might as well be totally wrong.

    See http://dare.ubvu.vu.nl/bitstream/handle/1871/51390/complete_dissertation.pdf?sequence=1

    1. Vaux’s last sentence was a really “ouch” comment for Springer, I guess: “the authors have repackaged the same data as before, but have found a journal with lower standards for publication.” But I agree with Vaux: if a paper was pulled for suspect data (even if there is a hint of editorial or peer bias and conflicts if interest in the Elsevier journal), then surely new or more robust data is required? I suspect we will be hearing about this Seralini case well into 2015… as it could set a new precedence for GMO papers and rat studies.

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