Meet the journal full of baloney (and cheese)

“Baloney on Wonder Bread with American Cheese,” by Ann Larie Valentine

For researchers wandering in the food desert of scientific publishing, the journal description is irresistible — or, you might say, appetizing. Meet The International Cheese Journal:

Have you ever wondered how your colleagues got each cheese published in journals with great sounding names? And that there was so little content in it? You can now too!

We asked Marcel Waldvogel, who created the new journal, some questions how he came up with this delicious idea. He was kind enough to interrupt his sandwich lunch to answer:

Retraction Watch (RW): Your journal seems to have two names, depending on the translation: The Baloney Journal, and The International Cheese Journal. Is the journal vegetarian-friendly, or not?

Marcel Waldvogel (MW): To quote Niklaus Wirth, who had trouble with people pronouncing his name: “You can call me by name or by value.” We do not specifically focus on any discipline, neither butchering nor dairy science. As no squid are being harmed in the production of our printing ink, we can thus say, fair and square,  that our journal is both vegetarian and sustainable.

RW: What prompted you to start this journal?

MW: You all are probably receiving countless advertising mails for the International Journal of Everything and Applications (IJEA) and friends. Even though those journals have very high levels of scientific novelty and an extremely narrow focus, their titles suggest otherwise. Honesty is the most central value of science. However, some journals — even if only by accident — do accept papers which are not consistent with their advertised high levels of standards they set themselves. Striving for the ultimate in honesty, we wanted to avoid readers being disappointed by any paper — by setting the bar as low as possible, and then lowering it further.

RW: According to your instructions for authors, “If a submission appears to reach at least 0.1 LPU, it will be accepted promptly…” What is an LPU?

MW: Citation counts, h-indices and continuous tenure and promotion committee reviews put pressure on scientists. Therefore, any rational scientist has to publish or perish. As far as these metrics are concerned, quantity equals quality, to a first-order approximation. Therefore, research is broken down into infinitesimal salami slices, known as Least Publishable Units, or LPUs. In our attempt to put innovation back into scientific publishing, we try to lead the pack here as well.

RW: Do you have any relationship with The Series of Unsurprising Results in Economics (SURE)? Sworn enemies, perhaps?

MW: Just because they also are after the low-LPU papers does not mean we need to take them seriously, do we? And as we do not repeat their mistake of artificially restricting our audience, we will get the lion’s share of the publications, neener, neener, nee-ner! [Straightens his tie and clears his throat.]

RW: You seem to have trademarked your system of Poor Review. Can you tell us more about it?

MW: It makes me shiver at the core to know that the same publication can one day be rejected so badly the authors seriously consider suicide, only to have it accepted as Best Paper shortly thereafter. In other words, while science tries to be as reproducible as is practical, the reproducibility of the peer review process is questionable at best. Together with general the lack of reproducibility in science, we felt the need to take reproducibility to the next level. The result is Poor Review™, extending reproducibility to peer reviews as well. So every paper will be accepted with “I have read the paper and consider it an accept.”

RW: You do not seem to have published any issues yet. How many submissions have you had so far?

MW: Delaying of research publication comes with high social costs. Not only is it likely that research will be unnecessarily duplicated, society and economy cannot take advantage of these results. Poor Review™ enables us to react with utmost speed to any incoming submission. The underlying Open Journal System allows us to create an issue as soon as and whenever a publication meets our stringent standards.

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