Predatory publishers probe snares prominent academics

Investigation discovers 400,000 researchers worldwide have used ‘pseudoscientific’ journals

July 25, 2018
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A German university rector and a Nobel laureate have been caught out by an investigation into so-called predatory publishers.

More than 5,000 German academics, and 400,000 researchers worldwide, were found to have published in “pseudoscientific” journals, according to a nine-month probe into the practice by media outlets from across the world.

The investigation discovered a number of well-known names among those who have published in such journals, which normally wave through papers without peer review but charge high fees.

Bernd Scholz-Reiter, president of the University of Bremen, was one of those to have authored “numerous” papers in pseudoscientific journals, according to NDR, a German public broadcaster that participated in the project. He said that he had been “unaware of the methods used by such publishing companies at the time” and now condemns the practice, according to the outlet.

A Nobel prizewinner was also one of those published, although the laureate was not named by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The investigation found that many academics are scammed into publishing in these journals, according to NDR, although some take advantage of them to “quickly publish their research results without having to subject themselves to the peer review process”.

Employees at 12 of 30 companies listed on the DAX, a German stock market index, have also published research in pseudoscientific journals, it discovered.

The investigation looked at 175,000 scientific articles published in five of the biggest predatory outlets. Journalists also found that they were able to publish non-scientific articles themselves and attend conferences, according to NDR.

david.matthews@timeshighereducation.com

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