Friday, June 12, 2009

Bentham Journals Get Punk'd! Again.

LOL, remember all the pride that the kooks expressed when Jones and Harrit, et. al., got their paper published in the "peer-reviewed Bentham Open Journals?" Well, turns out that's not the only BS paper published at that venue:

Earlier this year, Davis started receiving unsolicited emails from Bentham Science Publishers, which publishes more than 200 "open-access" journals – which turn the conventional business model of academic publishing on its head by charging publication fees to the authors of research papers, and then making the content available for free.

As the emails stacked up, Davis was not only encouraged to submit papers, but was also invited to serve on the editorial board of some of Bentham's journals – for which he was told he would be allowed to publish one free article each year. "I received solicitations for journals for which I had no subject expertise at all," says Davis. "It really painted a picture of vanity publishing."

Oh, but it gets better, much better. After creating their paper with a computer program that generates nutty stuff:

Davis and Anderson, writing under the noms de plume David Phillips and Andrew Kent, also dropped a hefty hint of the hoax by giving their institutional affiliation as the Center for Research in Applied Phrenology, or CRAP.

Yet four months after the article was submitted, "David Phillips" received an email from Sana Mokarram, Bentham's assistant manager of publication:

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 publication fee was $800, to be sent to a PO Box in the United Arab Emirates.

Of course, those of us who've been paying attention know that the Bentham Journals got punk'd the first time when they published the ridiculous paper by Harrit, Jones, Ryan and Szamboti.

Hats off to Philip Meir Davis and Kent Anderson, who pulled off the hoax. Here's a sample of the computer-generated nonsense:

In this section, we discuss existing research into red-black trees, vacuum tubes, and courseware [10]. On a similar note, recent work by Takahashi suggests a methodology for providing robust modalities, but does not offer an implementation [9].

It makes more sense than what Jones and Harrit published.

Hat tip for this excellent find to alienentity at JREF, who points us to this post by Volatile, also at JREF.

Update: More discussion here. Turns out that the footnotes have some hilarity in them, including a 2005 article by Alan Turing and Timothy Leary (both dead by that point--Turing had been dead for 50 years), and Noam Chomsky's work on vacuum tubes and voice over IP protocols.

Davis posts here.

What is surprising is that the assistant manager claimed that the article went through peer-review although there is no evidence that it actually did. Anyone with English proficiency — with or without a degree in computer science — would recognize that this manuscript makes absolutely no sense.

Remember Jones claiming that this was the most rigorous peer review he'd ever undergone? I'm certainly hoping that's not true.

Update: Fallout from the incident:

Bambang Parmanto, a University of Pittsburgh information scientist, resigned from his editorship at The Open Information Science Journal (TOISCIJ) after reading a story on The Scientist's website yesterday (June 10) that described a hoax paper submission to the journal. Editors at journal claimed to have peer reviewed the article and slated it for publication pending the submission of $800 in "open access fees."

"I didn't like what happened," Parmanto told The Scientist. "If this is true, I don't have full control of the content that is accepted to this journal." Parmanto said that he had never seen the phony manuscript that was accepted by TOISCIJ. "I want to lessen my exposure to the risk of being taken advantage of."

You may recall that the editor of the Journal that published Harrit and Jones' paper also resigned immediately after that paper was accepted.

By the way, Parmanto may have to wait for awhile for his name to be removed from the masthead; check out the first comment here:

Well done! I have had my doubts about that journal for quite some time. Actually, I have long ago withdrawn from the so-called editorial board because I felt something was wrong. I am actually a bit shocked to find out that my name still figures on the list!!

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