Monday, December 28, 2009

Scam Journals Uncovered by Improbable Research

Improbable Research has recently reported on some unbelievably brash copyright violations by a set of scam journals:
Strange academic journals: Scam?

We have discovered what may be the world’s strangest collection of academic journals. Published by a shadowy entity, it suggests — at first glance, anyway — some kind of scam. But is there a scam, or not? If there is, what’s the point of it? If there’s not, same question. Maybe you can help us find the answers.

One journal is named Psychology. All its articles have been previously published in reputable journals, some almost a decade ago — but nowhere is that mentioned.
The abstract for one of the articles (PDF) is shown below.

It's absolutely identical to an article already published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology:

DeWall CN, Twenge JM, Gitter SA, Baumeister RF (2009). It's the thought that counts: The role of hostile cognition in shaping aggressive responses to social exclusion. J Pers Soc Psychol. 96:45-59 [request PDF].

Since two of the plagiarized articles were stolen from JPSP, I contacted both editors, Dr. Charles M. Judd and Dr. Jeffry A. Simpson. Dr. Simpson wrote back right away, advising me to contact the American Psychological Association, which holds the copyrights to all APA journals. I did send an email to the Copyright and Permission office and am waiting to hear back.

3. Permission is Not Required for the Following:
  • A maximum of three figures or tables from a journal article or book chapter
  • Single text extracts of less than 400 words
  • Series of text extracts that total less than 800 words

No formal requests to APA or the author are required for the items in this clause.

...I'm reproducing the abstract below [it's 148 words long].

Click on image for a larger view and compare to abstract above.

Some other lovely tidbits from the Improbable Research post:
The publisher, Scientific Research Publishing, has other journals, as well. Some of them ... also appear to follow the “publish things that were already published, but don’t mention that” principle.

On the organization’s web site, we found barely any identifying or location information. The contact page says “Name: Scientific Research Publishing, Inc. USA” and lists an email address — but we have not found any such corporation in the USA, and email sent to that address has produced no reply. The web site is registered to an organization in Wuhan, China.
Some quick Googling of "Scientific Research Publishing, Inc." turned up a link to the professional activities of Dr. Dharma P. Agrawal, which include:
  • Editorial Board Member, International Journal of Communications, Network and System Sciences (IJCNS), published by “Scientific Research Publishing,” Scientific Research Publishing, Inc. 5005 Paseo Segovia, Irvine, CA.
That's interesting, because 5005 Paseo Segovia, Irvine, CA is a private single-family residence that was last sold for $685,000 on 9/22/2008.

Let's conclude with a bit of irony from Scientific Research themselves:
For Authors

Submitted papers should not have been previously published nor be currently under consideration for publication elsewhere. Paper submission will be handled electronically through the PSYCH online system. All papers are refereed through a peer review process.
They also had the nerve to print 'Copyright © 2009 SciRes.' on every page of the purloined PDFs.

There's a little more sleuthing in this October 2009 thread in the JREF Forum [James Randi Educational Foundation]. I'll post more information if/when it arrives. Stay tuned.

via @noahWG.

UPDATE: The APA Permissions Office was already aware of the copyright violation, and they are currently looking into it.

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At January 01, 2010 12:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this once of those new "open journals"?

At January 01, 2010 1:00 PM, Blogger The Neurocritic said...

No, they don't seem to be affiliated with Bentham Open.

At January 02, 2010 3:46 AM, Blogger Neuroskeptic said...

They've managed to register some pretty awesome journal titles - "Psychology" "Health" "Applied Mathematics" - I'm surprised no-one else has made a journal with one of those names before.

Or maybe they have and they've stolen the names as well?


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