[open-science] Fake Cancer study published in 157 Open Access Journals

Jenny Molloy jcmcoppice12 at gmail.com
Thu Oct 10 08:22:41 UTC 2013

Hi All

I agree time is of the essence and have set up a googledoc, however I have
a morning in a molecular lab to look forward to and won't be able to
populate it until lunchtime - please feel free to plough ahead with
suggesting 300 words!


No matter what we think of this journalistic piece (as Francois points out,
it was never intended as a scientific study and appears in the News section
of Science) the message is reaching lots of people from high profile media
outlets that open access means poor quality research rather than that some
journals do poor peer review and APC business models are a gift to
fraudulent publishers, so I think we should make some sort of statement
with other organisations who are interested.

I think the latter point raises some really interesting questions for a
social scientist to tackle with a well designed study, as Carl points out
in his earlier email:
"What is the greater potential concern here: that well-intentioned authors
are being deceived, or that demand from dishonest authors has created a
large market for dishonest publishers (possibly in an attempt to deceive
employers who assess their output by volume?)"

Please pass this email onto other people who may be interested/tweet the
link to the document. Even better get them to sign up to the mailing list -
now accessible from the front page of the website for those who find
mailman pages a bit old school:


On Tue, Oct 8, 2013 at 5:13 PM, Luke Winslow <lawinslow at wisc.edu> wrote:

>  Klaus. I now believe you are just trolling. Thanks for reminding me that
> the best way to deal with internet trolls is to not engage them.
> But it would be wonderful to see an alliance of reputable institutions
> like OKF putting together a concise, well-formulated rebuttal, and
> broadcasting it well beyond the confines of the OA community. Starting with
> the Letters column of The Economist.
> I completely agree. The Economist is widely read. But more importantly,
> the letter section is widely read and respected as well (MHO). A letter
> there from people with a bigger reputation than me would be the first step.
> Or perhaps a letter signed by the open knowledge foundation itself? (I have
> the feeling they would not accept a letter not signed by an individual).
> Quick survey says letters are ~300 words or less. Not sure what their
> criteria is, but 300 seems to be about the longest letter (maybe 350) based
> on a brief (non-scientific!) survey of a<http://www.economist.com/news/letters/21586511-our-capital-freeze-index-utah-chinese-banks-montessori-schools-biofuels-brazilian-foreign>
> few<http://www.economist.com/news/letters/21587182-biodiversity-software-jobs-unemployment>
> issues<http://www.economist.com/news/letters/21586273-syria-chemical-weapons-high-speed-rail-azerbaijan-italy-burials>
> .
> I think it would be important to get it in by yesterday. The economist is
> weekly and they often run criticisms of the past issue in the very next
> issue. Best to get it in while it is fresh on people's minds.
> What's next? Think Science would accept some sort of follow-up? Any other
> journals or major outlets?
> -Luke
> On 2013-10-08 10:15, Klaus Graf wrote:
>  The same nonsense you have written before.
> If I write an article on Tibet I do not have the duty to take the rest of
> the world as control group. "Really bad" is only what OA advocates do when
> ignoring uncomfortable truths.
>  Klaus Graf
> 2013/10/8 Mike Taylor <mike at indexdata.com>
>> There were indeed VERY serious flaws, and I'm a bit surprised that
>> anyone would claim not to be able to see them. I enumerated some of
>> them here:
>> http://svpow.com/2013/10/07/anti-tutorial-how-to-design-and-execute-a-really-bad-study/
>> On 8 October 2013 15:12, Graham Triggs <grahamtriggs at gmail.com> wrote:
>> > On 7 October 2013 19:33, Klaus Graf <klausgraf at googlemail.com> wrote:
>> >>
>> >> See also
>> >> http://archivalia.tumblr.com/tagged/openaccess
>> >>
>> >> I still cannot see serious flaws
>> >
>> >
>> > I'm not going to claim serious flaws in the methodology, or even in
>> what the
>> > article itself states. However, to accept it as an expose of OA alone
>> is a
>> > serious flaw.
>> >
>> > a) There is no comparative data for submissions to closed access
>> journals
>> > b) No attempt was made (or at least documented to have been made) to
>> obtain
>> > waivers for the APCs
>> >
>> > On that second point, the article was submitted with African
>> affiliations,
>> > which would have been cause to grant a waiver for any of the OA
>> publishers
>> > that operate such policies for lower income countries.
>> >
>> > Either, and preferably both, of these would have given indication as to
>> > whether the acceptances were driven by predatory desires to reap the
>> APCs.
>> > As it is, the Bohannon article is missing (at least) two critical
>> pieces of
>> > evidence, which means it is only telling half a story, at best.
>> >
>> > Besides, this is ultimately a largely self-correcting problem. Open
>> science
>> > can be discredited, journals will get reputations for being routinely
>> > discredited (Negative Impact Factors, if you will) and no serious author
>> > with real results is going to want to publish in journals with a bad
>> > reputation. (And for any new authors that are not so well informed,
>> there
>> > should be appropriate support structures from their funders, colleagues
>> and
>> > institutions to avoid the problems).
>> >
>> > If predatory publishers remain, and a small number of authors can
>> afford to
>> > pay them to publish what they know to be crap, so be it. The only
>> danger of
>> > that is bogus studies being published in order to sell useless products
>> as
>> > being scientifically proven - but that's a consumer issue, not a
>> > research/science one.
>> >
>> > This would be a much more serious issue if credible journals that
>> command a
>> > good reputation were accepting nonsense to harvest APCs. But this study
>> > actually showed that they did not. And whilst anyone could make a
>> mistake,
>> > the respected journals aren't going to wave through poor articles -
>> because
>> > they would very quickly lose their reputation (and hence value, and
>> > revenue).
>> >
>> > G
>> >
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>> >
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