Tag Archives: predatory

So many asthma papers under fire

As an avid PubPeer reader, I found a  new  entry  by Elisabeth Bik recently about Andreas Pahl of Heidelberg Pharma who has already one retracted and several more papers under scrutiny.

Unfortunately there are now also many asthma trash papers from paper mills. Another example was identified by @gcabanac, distributed by @deevybee and published at Pubpeer.

In total there are 386 asthma entries at PubPeer. What is  really happening in this field? When I started the field there was just one misconduct case – Ranjit Kumar Chandra. That’s an increase from 1 to 386…

What makes it even more complicated that there is no border anymore to predatory journals if also respected scientists drop their names at predatory journals.  Only recently I received an email addressed to one of my former technical assistants as “professor” inviting her to send a paper…


What is a predatory journal?

Nature reports a new definition for predatory journals

Predatory journals and publishers are entities that prioritize self-interest at the expense of scholarship and are characterized by false or misleading information, deviation from best editorial and publication practices, a lack of transparency, and/or the use of aggressive and indiscriminate solicitation practices.

This definition is much broader than I would have expected.

Smaller scientific societies prioritize of course their self-interest and even middle and top tier journals occasionally provide misleading information.

There is also a lack of transparency whenever an anonymous referee or editor decides on your paper without any explanation (or justification (as happened to me this morning. “Lack of space” is ridiculous in the internet age).

So what is a predatory journal? I can’t put the answer into one sentence without annoying also serious journals.

And there is already some considerable literature on the inner workings of true predatory journals. I would there suggest for for a scoring system, for example

  • publication costs >1000€
  • turn around time <4 weeks
  • less than 3 experienced referees

and many more details as specified in the Nature report sums up to a predatory likelihood.  All journals passing a threshold, should be officially listed as “predatory”.

How to recognize a predatory journal

There is a lot of  information out there, how to recognize a predatory journal (PJ), so there is no need to build an own list here. Just see the warning signs at instr.iastate.libguides.com/predatory/id or the 25 crits at tressacademic.com/identify-predatory-journals. PJs are big problem now, as they already entered Pubmed and even reputed journals can become a PJ over time. As a basic reference I would use the (outdated) Beall’s list and cross check with Thomson Reuters ISI listing. PJs do not behave like a normal journal – see also the 96 things publishers usually do.

How to get a fake study into Pubmed

  1. Find a predatory journal that made it into Pubmed Central for whatever reason
  2. Submit and pay for your article
  3. Voila, Pubmed will list your predatory study.

This is what I learned this week when writing to the Pubmed help desk

Hi ….,
Thank you for writing to the help desk. Content added to PubMed from PMC comes from two sources: journals that overall have met NLM’s standards for PMC (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/about/guidelines/#sciqual); and author manuscripts deposited in compliance with the public access policy of NIH or other collaborating funders.
NIH and other funders do not dictate the journals in which their funded authors may publish. This particular author manuscript, the single citation from this journal appearing in PubMed, was deposited in compliance with the public access policy of NIH (https://publicaccess.nih.gov/).
Kind regards,

U.S. National Library of Medicine

Unfortunately, I am not the first one to notice the decline of Pubmed. scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org has written about that before

What is PubMed? Is it a search engine? A credentialing system? A filter? Is it a publisher? An enabler of open access (OA) publishing? A technology provider? A competitor? Depending on the situation, you can answer each of the above in the affirmative, despite the contradictions many of the combinations may cause.
Twenty years ago, PubMed was a credentialing system, an online port of the MEDLINE index. This shift of medium quickly made it a search engine, but one built on a manual and highly curated index ….
Now, a new twist is emerging, and that seems to be that PubMed may be consciously or unwittingly acting as a facilitator of predatory or unscrupulous publishing.

see also the-scientist.com

If a predatory journal is confined on its website, which is often of low-quality, the chance that patients or scholars will read and cite these articles is very low,” says Andrea Manca, a professor of physiology at the University of Sassari in Italy. “The problem is that when they are displayed in the most popular biomedical database that we have, there are many [people] who think if a journal is on PubMed, then it is fine—which is not true, unfortunately.

and there is even a Pubmed listed paper

Finally here is a more recent email from a predatory journal, that wrote to me “we pleased to find a reputed personality in the filed of Medical Research” (sic!)

WJST (predatory journal)

The “Walailak Journal of Science and Technology” (WJST) is a predatory Thai journal – zero impact, editorial board consist of local faculty, costs paid by local university – which is listed on the official Beall list. of predatory journals.

Really funny that the Walailak Journal (“attack best defense”) even publishes about predatory publishers…

I hoped that the journal will give up my name but unfortunately they are now even publishing a new Proceedings series, giving rise to an Elsevier name conflict.