What Caught Our Attention: This isn’t a retraction — rather, it’s a puzzling paper that we couldn’t help flagging for readers. From the title, to the affiliation (Das Nursing Home, India University Of God), to the reference list with only 11 entries — eight of which are written by the author himself — this is a paper that got our notice.
In 1980, Leila Tov-Ruach published a book chapter in which she thanked the editor of the book, Amélie Oksenberg Rorty, “for the hospitality that made the writing of this paper possible.”
Normally, such an acknowledgement wouldn’t raise eyebrows. But, the trouble is, Tov-Ruach and Rorty are the same person: Leila Tov-Ruach is a pseudonym for Rorty, an accomplished philosopher. The University of California Press (UC Press) officially outed Rorty as Leila Tov-Ruach when it issued corrections for two chapters she published decades ago under the pseudonym (1, 2).
The corrections explain the author of the chapters is Rorty, who also edited the two books in which the chapters appear. Although Rorty didn’t note in the original versions of the books that she is Tov-Ruach, she has not tried to hide her pseudonym either. She has acknowledged she is Tov-Ruach in her CV, and at least some philosophers know about the pseudonym (1, 2).
Why would a philosopher—who has an impressive publishing record that spans 50 years and, at 85 years old, is still a lecturer at Harvard—choose to write under a fake name?
Lewis’ inside joke wasn’t lost on those who knew him, and the benign deception seems to have been common knowledge in the field since the Le Catt paper appeared in 1982 (which also happens to be the year Cats began its run on Broadway). The paper has been cited four times since it was published, according to Clarivate Analytics. But 25 years later, the journal has finally decided to put an end to the gag.
Less than a week after publishing a much-discussed hoax paper, a scholarly publisher has acknowledged that it had chosen reviewers for the paper whose “expertise did not fully align with this subject matter.”
The subject matter: that the penis should not be considered an anatomical organ, but more as a concept – “a gender-performative, highly fluid social construct.” Upon publication, the authors immediately admitted the paper was a prank, arguing that its publication illustrates a lack of intellectual and scientific rigor in some social sciences, especially gender studies. But others have questioned whether it really demonstrates that at all.
Philosopher Michael Dougherty doesn’t take plagiarism sitting down. Over the years, the researcher at Ohio Dominican University has tipped us off to numerous instances of plagiarism he’s spotted. And it turns out, he’s done the same thing for publishers, as well. In a new paper in Metaphilosophy, Dougherty describes his experience contacting publishers over an instance of what he terms “serial plagiarism,” and how they responded – or didn’t respond – to his allegations.
This summer, Ottawa Citizen reporter Tom Spears was sitting by a lake on vacation when he opened a spam email from a publisher. Amused to see the sender was a journal focused on bioethics, he got an idea.
I thought, what if I just throw something outrageous at them?
The situation should sound familiar to readers who follow such “sting” operations: Spears submitted a fake paper to the so-called “predatory” journal, it was accepted one month later with no changes, and published.
A communications journal has retracted parts of a paper about a famous German political scientist after her great-nephew threatened the journal with legal action, claiming bits of the paper were defamatory.