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Old 12th October 2009, 07:40 AM   #1
drkitten
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Scientific Research Publishing : scam or not?

There seem to be a lot of these new quasi-paper journals coming out of the woodwork recently; I just got another invitation from a journal run by Scientific Research Publishing. I can't really tell if it's a minor-but-legit company or if it's a Chinese version of Bentham Scientific Scammers Publishers.

Anyone got any insight they're willing to share?
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Old 12th October 2009, 08:28 AM   #2
Gord_in_Toronto
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When the "About Us" page consists entirely of:

Quote:
Name: Scientific Research Publishing, Inc. USA

Email: service@scirp.org
A little bit of doubt might creep into my mind.

WHOIS says the domain is registered in China by Wang hui who lists his phone number as: +86.2787498031.

I suggest you e-mail him at ywtj2008@jetsum.net and ask for more details.

Ask about the
Quote:
Admin Organization:Wuhan da xue gao ke ji yan jiu yu fa zhan
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Old 12th October 2009, 08:37 AM   #3
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hmm, I'm not sure what you mean by scam. Perhaps I'm a bit ignorant on this, but do you mean non-peer reviewed or Self-published? I've received requests to contribute chapters to books, where I would be expected to pay for my contribution. I considered that a scam. But I do not know how it translates to research manuscripts.


I've never come across any of articles from SRP journals. and there were no listing in ISI for a impact factor report on the ones I checked.

I looked a bit into the "Journal of biomedical science and engineering" and was not that shocked by the general low scientific quality. The subjects of the articles were schizophreniclly diverse. It definitely had a feeling of "catch all" to the journal.

The papers themselves weren't terrible. they just seemed to lack scientific rigor. Each paper I saw felt incomplete. They presented the experiments they did, but didn't do any critical analysis of those experiments. But again, that's a criticism I'd have for any 3rd tier journal.
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What's the best argument for UHC? This argument against UHC.
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Old 12th October 2009, 08:48 AM   #4
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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....
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What's the best argument for UHC? This argument against UHC.
"Perhaps one reason per capita GDP is lower in UHC countries is because they've tried to prevent this important function [bankrupting the sick] and thus carry forward considerable economic dead wood?"-BeAChooser

Last edited by joobz; 12th October 2009 at 08:53 AM.
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Old 12th October 2009, 09:07 AM   #5
drkitten
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Originally Posted by joobz View Post
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....
Well, that answers my question. That level of deception puts it into the "scam" category.
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Old 12th October 2009, 09:36 AM   #6
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It's strange I would have never considered the idea of there being scam journals, let alone in my field. I just don't know what it does for anyone.
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Old 12th October 2009, 09:41 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by joobz View Post
It's strange I would have never considered the idea of there being scam journals, let alone in my field. I just don't know what it does for anyone.
Well, vanity presses have been around since the invention of the printing press.

Aside from the possibility of collecting page fees from wannabe authors, and the possibility of collecting subscription fees from completist libraries, vanity journals provide an easy way for both the author and the editor to pad their CVs and improve their professional standing.

I mean, who would you rather hire, a new assistant professor with three articles, or a new assistant professor with twelve articles who was the member of the editorial board for two journals? Who would you rather tenure six years hence, someone who's been publishing one article a year, or three?
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Old 12th October 2009, 09:48 AM   #8
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Here is the most recent incident of a scam journal: http://blog.bioethics.net/2009/05/me...eview-journal/
It happens, it's particularly egregious and I've no doubt there are many more that remain unaccounted for.
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Old 12th October 2009, 09:50 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by drkitten View Post
I mean, who would you rather hire, a new assistant professor with three articles, or a new assistant professor with twelve articles who was the member of the editorial board for two journals? Who would you rather tenure six years hence, someone who's been publishing one article a year, or three?
Grrr, Don't get me started on that.

I had to answer during my interviews several times "Why did you have only 3-4 publications..." For some reason, some people didn't care when I mentioned that each of my articles were in highly ranked journals and that I had (at that time) already had multiple references to those papers.
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What's the best argument for UHC? This argument against UHC.
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Old 12th October 2009, 10:14 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by drkitten View Post
Well, vanity presses have been around since the invention of the printing press. ...
Page charges do not necessarily equate to "vanity press" status. The American Chemical Society journals assess page charges. However, they are automatically waived if the author claims poverty. "Vanity press" would entail automatic acceptance upon payment. Joobz example of the book chapter that he must pay to publish sounds like a vanity press.
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Old 12th October 2009, 10:53 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by JJM View Post
Page charges do not necessarily equate to "vanity press" status.
I don't think I said they did.

Quote:
"Vanity press" would entail automatic acceptance upon payment. Joobz example of the book chapter that he must pay to publish sounds like a vanity press.
Not even then, if the book and the editing are good enough. A colleague of mine, for example, is putting together a collection of invited chapters on a topic near and dear to my heart, and unfortunately going through a primarily-internet publisher that charges authors and then delivers the results for free. (The idea, I think, is that the book will have higher impact if it's not hidden behind a PayPal firewall, which makes sense.)

What makes this other than a scam is the fact that I know the editor, and I know most of the authors, and I know that the book will be very good indeed.
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Old 14th October 2009, 02:10 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by drkitten View Post
I don't think I said they did. ...
Maybe you did not; but the bottom line remains that page-charges do not necessarily identify dubious journals.

Last edited by JJM; 14th October 2009 at 02:21 PM.
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Old 14th October 2009, 02:15 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by JJM View Post
... Joobz example of the book chapter that he must pay to publish sounds like a vanity press.
Originally Posted by drkitten View Post
Not even then, if the book and the editing are good enough. ...
You are citing an irrelevant example.
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Old 14th October 2009, 02:29 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by drkitten View Post
.

I mean, who would you rather hire, a new assistant professor with three articles, or a new assistant professor with twelve articles who was the member of the editorial board for two journals? Who would you rather tenure six years hence, someone who's been publishing one article a year, or three?
In my department, we assess whether the articles were from peer-review jounals. I recall one applicant who had scads of articles in little known journals.They were very short, obviously to cut down on the per page cost.
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Old 14th October 2009, 03:20 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Jeff Corey View Post
In my department, we assess whether the articles were from peer-review jounals. I recall one applicant who had scads of articles in little known journals.They were very short, obviously to cut down on the per page cost.
I don't even know why you'd waste the time with that.

If I work a 1+ on a project and was going to report the findings, why would I waste it by publishing somewhere it won't get read?
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What's the best argument for UHC? This argument against UHC.
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Old 14th October 2009, 03:25 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by joobz View Post
I don't even know why you'd waste the time with that.

If I work a 1+ on a project and was going to report the findings, why would I waste it by publishing somewhere it won't get read?
In the hope that whoever was considering hiring you would be fooled by the numbers.
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Old 14th October 2009, 04:12 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by joobz View Post
It's strange I would have never considered the idea of there being scam journals, let alone in my field. I just don't know what it does for anyone.

It lets those who paid to be published claim that they have published in a "peer reviewed" publication. It won't work with people actually in a field, but it might to those outside the field.
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Old 14th October 2009, 08:10 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
It lets those who paid to be published claim that they have published in a "peer reviewed" publication. It won't work with people actually in a field, but it might to those outside the field.
I agree-- hiring committees (faculty) know very well what good journals in their field are, and which ones are bunk. Publishing too much crap is an excellent red flag to not hire someone.
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Old 25th January 2010, 02:30 PM   #19
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Hi,

I am the much maligned Sridharan Devarajan caught in the cross-fire of your emails about Jbise.

You are right. I am a graduate student at Stanford, not a professor. While I understand this is an informal forum, I feel the need to make a clear statement on where I stand regarding the jbise ed board issue.

1) The article I reviewed for jbise was perhaps not outstanding, but of decent scientific quality. I have attached below the request to put my name on the editorial board.

----- "jbise" <jbise@scirp.org> wrote:

| Dear Prof. Devarajan Sridharan,
|
| We have received your review result. Thank you for your time and great
| work. We really appreciate it.
|
| Journal of Biomedical Science and Engineering ( JBiSE ) is dedicated
| to the latest advances in Biomedical Science and Engineering. Please
| refer to the journal's website at <link-deleted>
|
| In recognition of your prominent contribution in science, Professor
| Kuo-Chen Chou, the Editor-in-Chief, has proposed your name as one of
| the Editorial Board Members of JBiSE .
|
| Should you be interested in accepting this invitation, please send me
| your CV or short biography by replying this e-mail.
|
| I am keenly looking forward to receiving your positive response.
|
| With kind regards,
|
| Shirley Song
| Editorial Assistant of JBiSE
| Journal of Biomedical Science & Engineering ( JBiSE )
| jbise@s cirp .org

When I looked up Prof.Kuo-Chen Chou (mentioned as the editor-in-chief), I found him to be a professor at the Gordon Life Sciences Institute, San Diego, CA (jref forum policy will not allow me to post a link).

So, there was no reason for me to be unduly suspicious.

2) And so this was the response I gave to the editorial board request.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
---- Forwarded Message -----
From: "Sridhar Devarajan" <dsridhar@stanford.edu>
To: "jbise" <jbise@scirp.org>
Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2008 12:00:02 AM GMT -08:00 US/Canada Pacific
Subject: Re: JBISE Review Invitation to Prof. Devarajan Sridharan

Dear Shirley,

Many thanks for your kind offer. I have attached my CV, please note that I am currently a doctoral student in the Program in Neurosciences at Stanford University, and not a professor.

Given that I am not a faculty member, I will fully understand if you choose to retract the offer.

Best regards,
Devarajan Sridharan
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

While I attached my cv to the email to get under the radar of a broader group of scientists, I realized that there was no way I was going to be put on the editorial board since I was a graduate student. Which is why you find no mention of the jbise editorial board in my cv.

As far as I can tell, no blame attaches to me so far -- let me know if you feel otherwise.

3) Listing myself as an "ad-hoc" reviewer on my cv was my mistake. I misunderstood the meaning of the term "ad-hoc reviewer". I found the following meanings of the term "ad-hoc" (I couldn't find a better source than wikipedia):

#1: "Ad hoc is a Latin phrase which means "for this purpose". It generally signifies a solution designed for a specific problem or task, non-generalizable, and which cannot be adapted to other purposes."

#2: "Ad hoc can also have connotations of a makeshift solution, inadequate planning, or improvised events."

I took ad-hoc reviewer to be a sort of "substitute" or "makeshift" reviewer (connoting #2) -- since I am a graduate student frequently called upon to review, this was the meaning that made the most sense to me.

I have now come to understand that an ad-hoc reviewer is a specialist called upon for reviewing special articles (connoting #1). I will update my cv accordingly -- thanks for pointing this out to me.

In summary, I think I have little to apologize for except for misinterpreting the meaning of the word "ad-hoc reviewer".

While I am still unclear on whether Jbise is a "valid" journal or not, what worries me at this point is that the latest issue of Jbise includes me in the board as "Dr."Devarajan Sridharan despite my previous clarification.

I have, of course, written to the editorial assistant pointing out the error, and requesting that my name be pulled off the board. If I do not receive any response in the next few weeks, I will have more cause for alarm.

Thanks for bringing this issue to my attention,
-Sridharan
PS: I can see that though this is an informal forum, people try to present balanced views. Imho, before maligning specific individuals, it might be a good idea to check with her/him to give them a fair chance. Also, despite all the "inferences" here, have any of you tried to contact either the journal editor, staff or any of the editorial board members directly to see if the claims made are valid or not? If you are serious about finding out, this is what I suggest you do (and what I plan to do myself).
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Old 25th January 2010, 03:46 PM   #20
drkitten
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Originally Posted by dsridhar View Post
I am the much maligned Sridharan Devarajan caught in the cross-fire of your emails about Jbise.
Hello and welcome to the forum. And I don't think anyone was maligning you. Aside from the fact that you did nothing wrong, there's also the fact that graduate students aren't necessarily supposed to know the minutiae of academic practice.

Quote:
As far as I can tell, no blame attaches to me so far -- let me know if you feel otherwise.
None whatsoever. You appear to have done everything right.

The deception, as far as I can tell, is purely on the journal's part; where you see the failure of the journal to list you with your correct title as worrisome, I'm a cynic and I see it as deliberately deceptive and misleading.

Quote:
PS: I can see that though this is an informal forum, people try to present balanced views. Imho, before maligning specific individuals, it might be a good idea to check with her/him to give them a fair chance.
I don't think anyone here was maligning you. Indeed, your honesty is one of the things that raises suspicion about the journal by virtue of its very contrast....

Quote:
Also, despite all the "inferences" here, have any of you tried to contact either the journal editor, staff or any of the editorial board members directly to see if the claims made are valid or not? If you are serious about finding out, this is what I suggest you do (and what I plan to do myself).
Well, as I said, I'm a cynic. I'm just cynical enough to believe that if I wrote someone asking "is this journal you're running for real or is it a scam?" I might not get an honest answer.
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Old 25th January 2010, 03:56 PM   #21
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I second drkitten's response.

It's a jungle out there I say. A veritable JUNGLE.
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Old 25th January 2010, 04:04 PM   #22
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Well said, Sridharan. No blame adheres to you.
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Old 25th January 2010, 09:15 PM   #23
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First off, thank you for your prompt and understanding responses. I am certainly happy to have had a chance to explain my position.

That said, while I understand the value of cynicism in science, I think carelessly expressed opinions of mistrust or skepticism, especially in a popular, public forum such as this, could potentially hurt the reputation of individuals and organizations (intended or otherwise). Much more so for academics, to whom reputation is perhaps the single most important, irreplaceable asset.

Let us return to Jbise. While several points regarding its questionable practices have been thrown around, here are possible exonerating points from my perspective:

1) The editor-in-chief appears have held professorial positions including at U. Rochester, and Cornell U. His publications list includes articles in top journals (including Nature group articles, as recently as 2008). I find it hard to believe that such an individual would permit a scam journal to perpetuate in his name (of course, for the less skeptical among us, there is one way to find out, and that would be to email him ).

2) The journal appears to be based in Asia. The editorial assistant's command of English in all her communications, including the review process (also see email above) has been “wanting”, to say the least. Until the email last week, I have not had any other communication with her for the last twelve months. It is entirely possible that she misunderstood the wording in my original email (Dec 2008, see above) stating that I am currently a "doctoral student", or maybe she confused this term with “post-doctoral scholar”. There is some evidence that she did read the rest of my email, because I was not listed as Prof. Devarajan Sridharan, but as Dr.Devarajan Sridharan on their board.

3) Even if I have to say so myself, I feel I have a fairly above-average (and atypical) cv for a graduate student. I have published in many different research areas even during my PhD. It is entirely possible that my emailing my cv with my response, confused her, and someone cursorily browsing my cv could have gotten the impression that I was a post-doctoral scholar (disclaimer: this is not an invitation to google me)

4) While I haven’t received a response from Jbise to my request (to be taken off the board) or any clarification (or apology) for the wrong "title", I just checked online, and it appears I have already been taken off the board members on their website (again jref forum policy prevents me from posting a link).

It is not that I am holding Jbise not accountable for their error (pardon the double negative). Nor am I privy to the level of scientific rigor with which articles are screened (I did the best I could for the article I reviewed).

Nonetheless, one must acknowledge that science happens at various levels, including in poorly funded laboratories in developing nations, where breaking into the clique of top- or even second-tier journals is currently near impossible. Jbise (among many other journals) appears to offer a niche for such articles (as seen by the heavily Asian/international contributions).

To sum up my views, I feel that I cannot equate incompetence on the part of staff (such as editorial assistants), or overenthusiasm to get talented people on board, with evidence of fraudulence or "scamming". I am willing to give Jbise the benefit of doubt at this time.

Let me also add one more thing. It looks like Jbise became a topic of controversial discussion in this forum because of me (albeit due to no fault of mine). I apologize to genuine and earnest Jbise contributors who may be reading these posts, and who must be feeling terrible that the very worth of their science is being questioned and tossed-around in so offhand a manner.
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Old 26th January 2010, 01:06 AM   #24
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Perhaps more light might be shed on this by understanding the Chinese government's approach to enhancing the standing of their scientists in the international community.

20 years ago hardly any Chinese scientists published in foreign journals. Almost all of their work was published in Chinese journals, all of which were published in Chinese, which meant that their work was largely ignored by the international community. To try to change this the government initiated a scheme by which they paid scientists for publishing papers. The payments work on a sliding scale depending on the language and quality of the journal. You get 1,000 Yuan for publishing in a Chinese language journal, and 10,000 Yuan for publishing in a high impact English language journal.

The result is that almost all Chinese scientists now write and publish their papers in English, which has lead to a steady decline in the number of papers submitted to Chinese journals.

To try to combat this the Chinese journals are changing over to publishing in English to try to attract people back and improve their impact factors. So a lot of journals have changed their names and invited foreign scientists to join their editorial staff. Success so far has been limited, but it is having an effect.

I suspect that may be what has happened here. Some Chinese journals have changed over to publishing in English under a single organiser (hence the large number of Chinese editors and the apparent newness of the journals) and are looking for foreigners to add to their list of editors. In looking for people they search publications to find someone who publishes a lot, and ask them to review a paper. If they review the paper the journal then ask permission to add their name to the list of editors.

The journals are low impact factor, if they have any impact factor at all, being so new, and therefore accept papers from a wide range of disciplines in order to fill out their pages.

Meanwhile, Chinese researchers who can't get published in high impact journals, for whatever reason, use these journals to publish and get paid for it, the payment outweighing the page charges.

As Sridharan said, science gets done at many levels, and this is particularly true in China where university teachers have to publish at least one paper every 2 to 3 years if they want to get promoted. Of course, many of these teachers are working in small departments in small universities in small cities in the middle of nowhere, with little or no research funding and few if any contacts in their field. It isn't surprising that their research is of low quality, but they still have to publish. So they produce the best they can, and apply to low level journals, because they know that they can't get published in high impact journals.

It should be noted that I attach no blame for this situation to the researchers who publish in these journals, or even the editorial boards of the journals. This particular situation has been created directly by the Chinese system.

I'm not saying that this is definitely what happened in this instance, but it does seem likely.
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