“FAKE SCIENCE”: How to avoid the predators?

Only a few weeks after my first published article I received an invitation in my email-inbox to present at an international congress. Imagine; the big scientific community wanted to hear more about my amazing research! Very flattering for a (not quite) young but still junior PhD fellow. Luckily, I had a supervisor who quickly grounded and explained that this was not an invitation as a lecturer with covered travel and stay expenses but a, for her, totally unknown congress/organization so the invitation was relocated in the spam bin. But thereafter still more and diverse variants of inquiries are being delivered: publish articles, write book chapters and immediately be appointed as co- or chief -editor!

It is not only me who receives such inquiries; The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has conducted thorough investigative journalism by their “Fake Science”-project and thoroughly documented methodology and findings in Aftenposten’s Weekly magazine last Saturday. Researchers are fooled to pay for “Open Access” (principally great that science is widely available) but not in junk journal without thorough peer review and quality assurance! If the results have been published in such a substandard “predator” journal these results may never be published in a proper scientific journal and all the hard work is wasted/worthless. And to attend a congress to present and discuss hard-earned findings to realize that the whole conference is a small room where the other speakers either do not show up (they have already received their proof of participation) or present completely different disciplines than yours (computer algorithms, cognitive psychology, literary science and packaging technology in the same session) make participation completely scientifically worthless and time & money is completely wasted.

Here are some suggestions on how to avoid being caught by predator journals/ congresses:

– Ask  your supervisor / a senior scientist or clinical colleagues. Is this a magazine / congress / congress organizer they are familiar with? It is rare to be invited to an international lecture without knowing the invitees. Additionally, it is typical that there is nothing about coverage of travel and stay.

Check the magazine / organizer’s website:

-Are the names of the editorial board stated? Are these familiar in your field of expertise’s international/national environment? I checked the organizer of Congress of Cancer diagnosis & treatment hosted in Oslo the 2nd-3rd of August 2018; not a single Norwegian co-organizer, and not one scientist I had ever heard of. Searching through PubMed I found little correspondence between the named scientists and their specified workplaces. These were definitely not renowned scientists!

-Does the journal have information about its bibliography? E.g. which databases it is indexed in.

-Avoid these organizers: WASET, OMICS, Sciencedomain and Bioevents.

-Be are aware of names that are almost entirely similar to a journal you actually know: The International Journal of your field, may be named Journal of International your field or International Clinical & Research in your field.

To avoid violation of publication ethics: This has formerly been published as a commentary in På Høyden, 21stof August 2018.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *