Based in Milwaukee, wisconsin, bugs and bytes is a blog by carlos figueroa castro. His posts explore infectious diseases and technology.

About predatory journals

According to Al Pacino, vanity is the devil’s favorite sin.
One of the “perks” after publishing an article is the trove of unsolicited emails from editors asking to publish your work in their journals (you have to provide an email as a corresponding author, which unfortunately is out there for everyone to see). They try to lure you with a fast peer-review process, and a modest price to make your article available to the public under the guise of open access. You are being seduced with fame and a growing bibliography. You know better, and you don’t fall for the trap.
What happens when you’re already inside the trap?
I recently received notification about a new reference that was automatically populated into my ResearchGate profile. I recognized the names of my coauthors, and I recognized the case I tried to publish in a respectable journal during fellowship. In contrast with medical journals listed by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) stating they follow the ICMJE’s Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, I was never asked to sign a conflict of interest form during the submission process. This might have been overlooked by the corresponding author or the journal, so I decided to understand the submission process. After finding the journal’s website, and following inspiration from Alan Sokal and Eddie Kohler (alert: title is NSFW), I created a research document about the relationship between age and knee size (“the little knee that could”), including a fake plot. The illustrious Dr.Calrissian from Bespin University in Cloud City was the sole author. The document was uploaded, without any request for submitting ICMJE forms. With a throwaway email account, I received a rejection, without an explanation (sniff?).
Needless to say, I disavowed any relationship to that article in ResearchGate, even though I believe the case was worth publishing in a respectable medical journal. I think is an illustrative case about how people facing pressure to publish can fall for what is simply an scam, but at the same time, it is worrisome that your name and reputation can be hijacked so easily. Should I request a retraction or correction?

Happy Birthday, Ubuntu!

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