On-Line Journal Publishes Article Authored by Characters from “The Simpsons”

Would you like to be published in the same journal that accepted a manuscript written by “Margaret Simpson” and “Edna Krabappel”? If those names sound familiar, it’s not because they’re distinguished researchers. They’re not. They’re not even real people. They’re characters on the long-running evening cartoon situation comedy The Simpsons.

But the “editors” of an American Scientific Publishers journal didn’t know that, or they didn’t care, as reported by Joseph Stromberg for Voxhttp://www.vox.com/2014/12/7/7339587/simpsons-science-paper

While Jeffrey Beall’s ScholarlyOA website http://scholarlyoa.com/publishers/ has long warned us to the perils of responding to email spam from probably predatory online open-access journals, some intrepid scholars have been writing bogus manuscripts, submitting them, and even paying the publishing fee just to show that these publishing emperors are, as we say in the South, butt nekkid.

In another indication of how unscrupulous some of these publishers can be, Stromberg also reports on one manuscript accepted for publication whose title was “Get me off Your F*****g Mailing List” (a title we’ve censored for the eyes of our more sensitive readers), whose text consisted of the same sentence as the title repeated; details here: http://www.vox.com/2014/11/21/7259207/scientific-paper-scam

While you might have like a guest appearance on The Simpsons, you probably wouldn’t want to appear in the same journal with those characters. So two words to the wise author considering an online open-access journal: Caveat scriptor.

Fast Writing

Gregory Semenza writing for the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Vitae website (free but requiring registration to view) recommends “Better Writing Habits in Just 10 Minutes.” Using Robert Boice’s “contingency management” (in which you schedule time daily for writing), Semenza recommends grabbing 10 or 15 minutes between doing other things (instead of checking Facebook or watching YouTube). There are three advantages: “It makes writing less daunting. . . . it makes you want to write more. . . . It helps you stay in the flow.”

Details here: https://chroniclevitae.com/news/616-the-value-of-10-minutes-writing-advice-for-the-time-less-academic

How to Get Published, or Not

Two summertime articles in Inside Higher Ed remind us of some basic principles for successful scholarly publishing.

Social scientist Maureen Pirog outlines key elements of successful research and publishing:

  1. Think globally.
  2. Create a good research team.
  3. Select a strong research design.
  4. Use good data and measures.
  5. If your paper has flaws, do not ignore them.
  6. Get to the point and write clearly and compellingly.
  7. Constructive feedback is your friend, especially before you submit your manuscript to a journal.
  8. Be strategic.
  9. Get it off your desk.

Details here: http://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2014/06/27/essay-publishing-social-sciences#sthash.598I3dTc.LoK0Sin9.dpbs

Humanities scholar Rob Weir takes the counter-intuitive approach, reminding us of the self-imposed impediments to publishing:

  1. Demonstrate your illiteracy.
  2. Assume your research is so important that it speaks for itself.
  3. Disrespect the profession.
  4. Disrespect the journal.

Details here: http://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2014/07/30/essay-mistakes-humanities-faculty-members-make-seeking-be-published#sthash.uqhK5T7O.dpbs

Predatory Publishing: It’s a Jungle Out There in the Wild West

OK, so I’m mixing metaphors here, but the new landscape of online publications does invite both the image of the predatory jungle (“Nature, red in tooth and claw,” as the poet Tennyson wrote) and the lawless American frontier West. Compliments of Edie Brous, nurse attorney—EdieBrous.com—a compilation of recent reports on predatory open-access journals and scholarly conference scams.

Jeffrey Beall, 9/12/12

“Predatory Publishers Are Corrupting Open Access”


Declan Butler, 3/27/13

“Investigating Journals: The Dark Side of Publishing”


Declan Butler, 3/27/14

“Sham Journals Scam Authors: Con Artists Are Stealing the Identities of Real Journals To Cheat Scientists Out of Publishing Fees”


Kyle Crocco, 3/12/14

“Welcome To The Dark Side Of Academia:  Fake Conferences And Faux Journals”


Carl Elliott, 6/5/12

“On Predatory Publishers: A Q&A With Jeffrey Beall”


Martha Harbison, 4/9/13

Bogus Academic Conferences Lure Scientists


Gina Kolata, 4/7/13

“Scientific Articles Accepted (Personal Checks, Too)”


Amy Novotney, APA 2014

“Watch Out For Faux Journals and Fake Conferences”


Be careful out there!

Better Posters

Ah, the poster presentation, a genre with almost limitless possibilities, but more often than not a stepchild to the more prestigious podium paper presentation!

Designing an effective poster is an art, and, indeed, may be art.

Read more here: http://betterposters.blogspot.com/

Portable Peer Review

Michael Clarke, writing for the Scholarly Kitchen, discusses the announcement of a new “portable peer review” coalition among eLife, BioMed Central (BMC), the Public Library of Science (PLoS), and the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO).

Authors who submit to a participating journal in the consortium, and are not accepted by that journal, will be able to redirect their paper, with the referee’s reports, to any other journal in the consortium. Referees will be given the opportunity to opt out of having their reports forwarded, or to forward them anonymously (in all cases, the referee’s identity will be anonymous to the author – referees will choose whether they wish to remain anonymous to the editors of the secondary journal).

Details here: http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2013/07/15/game-of-papers-elife-bmc-plos-and-embo-announce-new-peer-review-consortium/

Open Access Journals: Be Careful

Nurse writers want a readership. Whether you are a scholarly writer disseminating research discoveries or a policy and editorial writer influencing opinion or a personal writer seeking kindred spirits, you want readers. Open access (sometimes called OA) publishing, which turns publishing’s funding model on its head, might seem a good solution. But be careful.

In ordinary publishing, a journal is funded by subscribers (either individual or institutional) and by advertisers. Only subscribers have access to the journal. In contrast, OA  journals require an up-front subvention payment by the author, who is funding the journal’s operation, providing open access to the contents of the journal to all readers.

In the best of all possible worlds, a researcher’s grant funding provides for dissemination costs or the researcher’s home institution funds the dissemination, so the researcher does not have to pay out of pocket.

However, in the brave new world of online publishing, it’s a jungle out there, and there are predators that you need to look out for.

First, as you can imagine, there is an economic incentive for an OA  journal publisher to accept your manuscript. Accepting your manuscript is a funding source for the OA journal. Unscrupulous OA journals might not exercise the same diligence in peer review as subscription-funded journals, which rely on subscribers’ trust in the quality and relevance of the articles published.

Second, some OA journals are parts of huge money-making schemes in which an online company suddenly produces scores or even hundreds of OA journals. In some cases, one editor is identified on the masthead as editor of half a dozen (or more) journals. These journals and their publishers use email marketing (spam) to entice writers, but like other email marketing schemes, unscrupulous or predatory OA journals are just interested in getting you to buy their service: publishing your manuscript. Some even add notable names to their editorial boards without the permission of the researchers named!

Third, how will readers find your article unless it’s indexed by the major indexers? Check to determine who indexes the OA journal you are considering.

So how do you tell the good from the bad? Do due diligence and scrutinize new OA journals carefully. Do you recognize the name of the editor? Do you know members of the editorial board? Do you recognize the names of authors published in the journal? Contact them to find out more about the journal. In addition, consult online sources to assess the legitimacy of the journal.

Start with Jeffrey Beall’s Scholarly Open Access blog http://scholarlyoa.com/ and check his lists of publishers and journals. If a publisher or a journal is on his list, you probably do not want to submit a manuscript to it. Then consult the Directory of Open Access Journals http://www.doaj.org/ and the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association http://oaspa.org/ (but keep in mind that the latter is a professional organization — just because a local business belongs to the Better Business Bureau doesn’t make it a better business).

Nurse writers have important, life and health improving observations to make. OA publishing may be a way to reach a wide audience. But exercise care before submitting a manuscript to an OA journal.


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