Bogus Study Fools 157 Science Journals


An investigation into the world of so-called “open-access” scientific journals has turned up, well, not much scientific credibility. Inspired by colleagues who’d come across some dodgy-looking journals, John Bohannon made up a study describing the anticancer properties of a chemical, then shipped it to 304 open-access journals. (… Of those 304, 157 accepted it, though “its experiments are so hopelessly flawed that the results are meaningless,” Bohannon writes for Science. “I created a scientific version of Mad Libs.” … He wrote it under a false name (Ocorrafoo Cobange) and nonexistent institute (Wassee Institute of Medicine in Asmara), but none of that seemed to matter.Full story at Newser


There seems to be a larger emphasis on publishing at more teaching oriented schools than there was 30 years ago. One thing that I have noticed in the business disciplines is the proliferation of journals and conferences that seem primarily aimed at milking this to the fullest extent possible. I know one guy who has a conference in Las Vegas every October, Hawaii in January and some exotic (usually foreign) place every summer. He also has a string of journals to go along with them. So it seems you get more research (or publications) but the quality is decreasing.


I find it interesting that a for-profit journal, Science, published an article saying essentially that open access journals aren’t of high quality. Not like they have a vested interest or anything.

One of the reasons that the fake article that was submitted was bad science is that it didn’t include a control group. The Science article also didn’t include a control group. It would have been interesting to see how many traditional journals accepted the fake article for publication. Oh, but that might have made journals like Science look bad. Oops.

Peer review is important and helps weed out junk…when it works as it should. But it doesn’t always, either with traditional journals or open access. Caveat emptor.


We can only pray next time it will be “Science, Nature, Physics Letters A admit: ‘fooled over 500,000 times,] since Darwin’”.


Good analysis from the Guardian:
Open access publishing hoax: what Science magazine got wrong


Peer review in the information age could benefit from being put to the fire in an open internet forum, where everybody who has a bone to pick gets a crack at it.

There is just too much information, and too little time to expect good results from a system that developed before the information explosion.


You’re right, the present system isn’t working. There has been a large rise in retractions of peer-reviewed papers over the last decade, see this NY Times article. Also, check out the blog Retraction Watch.

Of course, retractions represent only papers where the authors admit their mistake or their results have been exposed as wrong. How much BS is still floating around in journals unchallenged?


Disregarding my swipe at evolutionism, plenty. (That is, granting that the entire modern scientific paradigm is mostly accurate, which is most emphatically not true. If one judges by actual correspondence truth, the majority of papers in all journals, whether hard science, social science, philosophy, theology, the humanities are false.) In my experience only the worst of the worst get pulled or retracted (such as the series of papers supposedly on quantum singularities by Igor and Grichka Bogdanoff, or, famously, Alan Sokal’s hoax. I’ve seen papers with errors as simple as a “rectifier” (AC to DC converter) being defined improperly throughout the paper (that is, using the word “rectifier” when speaking of an inverter) and incorrect references (sometimes to completely incorrect books, more often to correct sources but incorrect page numbers, evidence that the source was cited from memory), to hobby-horse papers published by the editor of a journal and his friends to prop up their favourite hypotheses (several journals have been completely destroyed by this - an “involved” editor being appointed), all the way through complete unbelievability from trying to jam facts in to a false framework (e.g. “transitional forms”).

Part of it has to do with the acclaim being published in certain journals receives and redounds to the authors, and how publishing record is used for promotions and tenure in the Academy. Much of it has to do with sin and the desire for recognition. I’ve not been entirely above cutting some corners to get published occasionally.


Hahaha, working in the scientific field I cannot help but know this is true. :banghead:

It scares me where some of the current research in psychology is going and how people just accept that its peer reviewed science and move on. Worse yet is how much is out there might be just bogus from people with an agenda or ego.

The scientific field unfortunately has somewhat devolved into a money (usually grants) seeking and ego petting zoo. I know of researchers that had their careers threatened by other more famous scientists just because they disagreed with them. While there is a lot of good scientists out there, the pressure to publish and look good to your peers is stifling. Worse still, when it comes to funding and acceptance, being politically correct has more influence then what you are researching.


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