Friday, January 1, 2010

Sad Times

This morning The Scientist sent out its top 5 articles of 2009, according to the number of page views. The list appears below:

1. Merck published fake journal

Our investigative report of how the company paid Elsevier to produce a publication that looked like a peer-reviewed medical journal but contained no disclosure of sponsorship

2. OA publisher accepts fake paper

The experiment tested whether a nonsensical article written by a computer program could pass peer review and be accepted. The experiment worked

3. iPhone apps every biologist needs

A PhD student's top 10 smart phone applications that boost his efficiency and help his research

4. Elsevier published 6 fake journals

In a follow-up to our #1 story of the year, the publisher admits to putting out a total of six publications that looked like peer reviewed medical journals, but did not disclose sponsorship by pharmaceutical companies

5. Viral cause for prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer is increasingly looking like an infectious disease, and may be sexually transmitted

Bad publishing ruled. Two sordid tales feature Elsevier’s sins (#1 and Star#4), while story #2 demonstrates the lax standards of some Open Access publishers.

I am also saddened that only one of these stories is really science. Apps for the iPhone are hot, and I certainly clicked on that one as well. But it seems what really gets our attention is scandal.

Scientists click on dirt and gossip the same way we all read the headlines on the tabloids while waiting in the check-out line.

I wonder if Elsevier can spin this into a fake journal reality show?

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