Fake scientific journals: a boon to "intelligent design"?
Over the years, intelligent-design advocates have only published "12 peer-reviewed articles from scientific journals that are claimed to support intelligent design," none which stands up to critical analysis. That analysis is more important than mere numbers, although it's worth noting that there are more than 12 papers on evolution published every day. However, the recent proliferation of fake "scientific journals," which will publish anything for money, may lead to a big increase in fake intelligent-design publications. We'll see.
For example, Scientific Research Publishing just invited me to join the editorial board for its open-access journal, Advances in Reproductive Sciences. Looks like an invitation sent at random, since I have no expertise in that field and since the email (from Editorial Assistant "Christine") was totally generic. One way to assess journals is by the qualifications of people on their editorial board, but that breaks down if journals lie about who's on their board. For example, I found this discussion of Scientific Research Publishing on the James Randi Educational Foundation web site:
"Oddly, I've been searching through the editorial board on the JBSE and haven't seen anyone listed there actually have it on thier own CV. ETA: Alright. It's getting a bit more strange. I saw they had listed a Dr. Sridharan Devarajan, from stanford. on the editorial board. however, this person is currently a PhD student. Further, he has listed on his cv that he is an "ad hoc" reviewer. hmmm.... "
I can't vouch for the accuracy of the comment, of course. This article in The Hindu quotes a professor listed as "editor-in-chief" of a journal published by the OMICS group, denying that he ever accepted that position. The article links to this lengthy list of suspect publishers, which includes both OMICS Group and Scientific Research Publishing.
The Scientific Research Publishing web site says they publish 200 journals and it looks like most of them were started this year. I guess it's too much work to look for qualified board members when you're starting that many journals all at once. Interestingly, the email I got didn't mention reviewing manuscripts as one of the responsibilities, but did mention "a valuable credential for tenure and promotion." They charge $600 to "process" a manuscript. I wonder if they charge for this "valuable credential."
Committees responsible for hiring, tenure, and promotion are supposed to evaluate publications, not just count them, although busy people aren't always as thorough as we should be. I can't imagine anyone getting hired at a major university based solely on publication in fake journals (or low-quality journals, even if they're not deliberate scams) and invited talks at fake conferences. But, when I was a research scientist for USDA, we were expected to publish at least one paper every year. This wasn't a problem for colleagues publishing low-quality research in journals whose "peer review" process overlooked even obvious errors (like including the same citation twice in a five-paper bibliography). But one of my best (and most-cited) colleagues was put on probation when he missed a year, despite publishing in top journals right before and right after the period in question. Years ago, a postdoc from another country told me that US Immigration uses citations, not mere publication, to evaluate scientific credentials of visa applicants. Citation analysis has limits, but it's an improvement over just counting publications.
See "Recent Comments" for reader reactions to my previous posts on fake scientific meetings and similar science scams, including two claiming these conferences are legit. One commenter used a pseudonym and the other is worth Googling.