The Null Device

Our implementation is pseudorandom, wearable, and collaborative.

The editor-in-chief of a commercial academic journal has resigned after the journal accepted for publication a nonsensical, computer-generated article:
Bentham confirmed receipt of my submission the very next day (January 30, 2009). Nearly four months later, I received a response — the article was accepted. The acceptance letter read:

"This is to inform you that your submitted article has been accepted for publication after peer-reviewing process in TOISCIJ. I would be highly grateful to you if you please fill and sign the attached fee form and covering letter and send them back via email as soon as possible to avoid further delay in publication."

The letter was written by a Ms. Sana Mokarram, the Assistant Manager of Publication. She included a fee schedule and confirmation that I would pay US$800, to be sent to a post office box in the SAIF Zone, a tax-free complex in the United Arab Emirates.

The journal, "The Open Information Science Journal", is published by a company named Bentham, out of an office in a tax-free zone in the United Arab Emirates, and charges authors to publish papers, whilst making the journals freely available. The ostensible difference between this and a vanity publisher is that TOISCIJ ostensibly subjects its submissions to a peer review process, thus ensuring that, for example, a charlatan couldn't burnish their credentials merely by writing a cheque. Unfortunately, it appears that the peer review process seems to resemble the papers sitting in a pile for a few months; consequently, those who have had papers published in the journal have probably wasted US$800 in doing so.

The paper in question ("Deconstructing Access Points", by "David Phillips" and "Andrew Kent" of the "Center for Research in Applied Phrenology"), incidentally, may be downloaded here. It contains howlers such as:

Our implementation of our methodology is pseudorandom, wearable, and collaborative. We have not yet implemented the centralized logging facility, as this is the least private component of our method.
Gaussian electromagnetic disturbances in our mobile telephones caused unstable experimental results. Note that vacuum tubes have less jagged effective floppy disk throughput curves than do autogenerated robots.

There are 1 comments on "Our implementation is pseudorandom, wearable, and collaborative.":

Posted by: Greg Sat Jun 20 07:34:06 2009

The comments on the linked post are worth a read. Beyond the immediate message about dodgy journals, this incident suggests questions about the current conduct of science. The pressure to publish too often makes academics desperate, creating a niche for pseudo-journals. This pressure causes other problems too: the sheer volume of low-quality "me too" papers means that there are more authors than readers and a lot of time and energy gets wasted. I say "publish too often" because there is no justification for the output that is expected of working academics. No-one has that many good ideas per year, and the only way to meet management's expectation is by (a) publishing one idea multiple times, (b) massively-multi-authored papers, or (c) exploiting the work of underlings. There's a separate question about the validity of peer-review. Obviously in this case there was none. But even in the 'normal' condition, peer review has obvious problems. These have been detailed elsewhere (see Wikipedia article).

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