Weekend reads: How’d my name end up on that paper?; Bob Dylan in the scientific literature

booksThe week at Retraction Watch featured yet another case of a researcher peer reviewing his own paper, and an odd defense of plagiarism. Here’s what was happening elsewhere:

14 thoughts on “Weekend reads: How’d my name end up on that paper?; Bob Dylan in the scientific literature”

  1. Beall’s wrong in claiming the journals have disappeared, as I pointed out to him. The publisher itself appears to have disappeared, but the journal homepages still work and the papers can still be downloaded. Not sure how long that will last, though.

    1. I am the person who first reported this case to Beall in early September. For at least one month, access to any web-page of IJAPP (International Journal of Agronomy and Plant Production), published by VictorQuest, could not be accessed, and the only message that appeared when the URL was entered, was an error message. That means that that journal disappeared. It only reappeared after alot of noise was made and many contacts were sent to an uncomfortable number of individuals, I believe. I also believe that the reason why that journal can be seen now is because of the direct involvement and intervention of the Iranian Ministry of Education. The case of VictorQuest is extremely important to highlight, simply because it reinforces how precarious and unstable the world of science publishing is, and the risks it can entail. Incidentally, VictorQuest as a company in the UK does not exist any longer. So, the sites, as clearly explained by Beall, that you are able to observe are only thanks to the WayBack Machine, which is somehow able to trace the old archives. If one observes the 2014 issues of IJAPP, none can be accessed, so the situation remains unclear, and of concern.

      1. There is something I want to emphasize today: the need to keep our eyes on China, and to start to ask for more accountability from that part of the world. Very little is actually known about how science works in China, the power plays and the positioning and ethics systems in publishing relative to more known “Western” publishing systems. I have quite a few years of experience with Chinese, so I have some rudimentary ideas of the power plays at work and how they could easily conflict with current “Western” publishers’ imposed ideals. China has now most likely reached, as was predicted in 2011 [1], the pole position in terms of number of papers published, overtaking the USA. Thus, as the number 1 publishing country on this planet, and every likely soon the number 1 economy on the same planet, should we not be focusing our post-publication peer review efforts much more on scientists from China? This is not a call for discrimination. It is simply a call for increased awareness and pro-active action by the hawkish PPPR clan. Also, countries that have also suddenly exponentially produced papers and open access journals over the past few years also deserve greater scrutiny, including Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, and India. Simply because the numbers that are churned out deserve greater attention. Renaissances do not occur overnight, so exponential increases in science are usually a questionable sign.

        I also would like to know what the role of the very powerful STM network [2, 3] is in terms of publishing ethics, ORCID, and other power plays in the world of STM and OA publishing. The stats that underlie the STM network are impressive, and given the economics of the publishing world, tougher questions should be asked, especially as issues like wording for retraction notices, more accountability by publishers, responsibility by current and former editors whose journals failed traditional peer review come increasingly into the limelight. In these cases, we need to know what responsibilities these peripheral groups have, based on the power they hold, and the influence they have.

        [1] https://royalsociety.org/~/media/Royal_Society_Content/policy/publications/2011/4294976134.pdf
        [2] STM network: http://www.stm-assoc.org/membership/our-members/
        [3] http://www.stm-assoc.org/2010_04_16_STM_Journal_Publishing_in_2010.pdf (page 2)

      2. Actually, as I pointed out to Beall, you do not need the wayback machine. I had no trouble getting access to *any* of the journals (but the last one, but that didn’t even have a ISSN). I pointed Beall specifically to the “International Journal of Basic Sciences and Applied Research” (isicenter.org), where I had no problem accessing the papers, also those of 2014. Again, I went straight to the original website, not through the wayback machine.

  2. And a correction – it was not the person who gave the speech that was fired at ULB. It was the person who prepared the speech.

    1. Pity the Faculty of Law and Criminology at ULB didn’t point out to M. Delchambre (who gave the speech) the well-known legal principle that “delegating responsibility does not relinquish personal accountability.”

  3. Dorothy Bishop explains why most scientists don’t take Oxford researcher Susan Greenfield seriously.


  4. Rolf, thanks for your update. Good to hear that the UvA will start an investigation on other papers (co)authored by Jens Förster. Any idea if this implies that new complaints have been filed against Jens Förster?

    I still don’t understand why psychologists like Jens Förster don’t need to store a digital version of the raw data of all individuals (often students) who participate in any of their experiments.

    Raw data of such a participant include information about a unique ID (eg participant 1234), date of the experiment, site (eg UvA), sex, age, student / or not (incl. other relevant details), native speaker (or not), rewarded with money / study credits, etc. Raw data also include a digital version of all answers of participant 1234 (broken down by date, etc, when the experiments were carried out on different days, etc.).

  5. An article in the Dutch newspaper NRC by Frank van Kolfschooten gives some more details about the new investigation of UvA (University of Amsterdam). UvA has confirmed to NRC that an investigation will be conducted on all papers from the period 2007-2014 authored / co-authored by Jens Förster. UvA also has told NRC that a statistician will investigate these papers on unprobable patterns. NRC states as well that the Board of UvA has decided to start with this investigation as some of the co-authors of these papers have raised their concerns about the ‘status’ of their papers. It seems to me that this means that some of the co-authors of these papers have asked the Board of UvA to conduct this new investigation. NRC also writes that they were unable to get contact with Jens Förster to ask him for a comment.


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