I Got the Wrong Request from the Wrong Journal to Review the Wrong Piece. The Wrong kind of Open Access Apparently, Something Wrong with this Inherently…

27 08 2011

Meanwhile you might want to listen to “Wrong” (Depeche Mode)

Yesterday I screened my spam-folder. Between all male enhancement and lottery winner announcements, and phishing mails for my bank account, there was an invitation to peer review a paper in “SCIENCE JOURNAL OF PATHOLOGY”.

Such an invitation doesn’t belong in the spam folder, doesn’t it? Thus I had a closer look and quickly screened the letter.

I don’t know what alarmed me first. The odd hard returns, the journal using a Gmail address, an invitation for a topic (autism) I knew nothing about, an abstract that didn’t make sense and has nothing to do with Pathology, the odd style of the letter: the informal, but impersonal introduction (How are you? I am sure you are busy with many activities right now) combined with a turgid style (the paper addresses issues of value to our broad-based audience, and that it cuts through the thick layers of theory and verbosity for them and makes sense of it all in a clean, cohesive manner) and some misspellings. And then I never had an invitation from an editor, starting with the impersonal “Colleagues”… 

But still it was odd. Why would someone take the trouble of writing such an invitation letter? For what purpose? And apparently the person did know that I was a scientist, who does -or is able to- peer review medical scientific papers. Since the mail was send to my Laika Gmail account, the most likely source for my contact info must have been my pseudonymous blog. I seldom use this mail account for scientific purposes.

What triggered my caution flag the most, was the topic: autism. I immediately linked this to the anti-vaccination quackery movement, that’s trying to give skeptic bloggers a hard time and fights a personal, not a scientific battle. I also linked it to #epigate, that was exposed at Liz Ditz I Speak of Dreams, a blog with autism as a niche topic.

#Epigate is the story of René Najeraby aka @EpiRen, a popular epidemiologist blogger who was asked to stop engaging in social media by his employers, after a series of complaints by a Mr X, who also threatened other pseudonymous commenters/bloggers criticizing his actions. According to Mr. X no one will be safe, because all i have to do is file a john doe – or hire a cyber investigator. these courses of action cost less than $10,000 each; which means every person who is afraid of the light can be exposed”  In another comment at Liz Ditz’ he actually says he will go after a specific individual: “Anarchic Teapot”.

Ok, I admit that the two issues might be totally coincidental, and they probably are, but I’m hypersensitive for people trying to silence me via my employers (because that did happen to me in the past). Anyway,asking a pseudonymous blogger to peer-review might be a way to hack the real identity of such a blogger. Perhaps far-fetched, I know.

But what would the “editor” do if I replied and said “yes”?

I became curious. Does The Science Journal of Pathology even exist?

Not in PubMed!!

But the Journal “Science Journal of Pathology” does exist on the Internet…. and John Morrison is the editor. But he is the only one. As a matter of fact he is the entire staff…. There are “search”, “current” and “archives” tabs, but the latter two are EMPTY.

So I would have the dubious honor of reviewing the first paper for this journal?…. 😉

  1. (First assumption – David) – High school kids are looking for someone to peer review (and thus improve) their essays to get better grades.
    (me: school kids could also be replaced by “non-successful or starting scientists”)
  2. (Second assumption – David) Perhaps they are only looking to fill out their sucker lists. If you’ve done a bad review, they may blackmail you in other to keep it quiet.
  3. (me) – The journal site might be a cover up for anything (still no clue what).
  4. (me) – The site might get a touch of credibility if the (upcoming) articles are stamped with : “peer-reviewed by…”
  5. (David & me) the scammers target PhD’s or people who the “editors” think have little experience in peer reviewing and/or consider it a honor to do so.
  6. (David & me) It is phishing scam.You have to register on the journal’s website in order to be able to review or submit. So they get your credentials. My intuition was that they might just try to track down the real name, address and department of a pseudonymous blogger, but I think that David’s assumption is more plausible. David thinks that a couple of people in Nigeria is just after your password for your mail, amazon, PayPal etc for “the vast majority of people uses the same password for all logins, which is terribly bad practice, but they don’t want to forget it.”

With David, I would like to warn you for this “very interesting phishing scheme”, which aims at academics and especially PhD’s. We have no clue as to their real intentions, but it looks scammy.

Besides that the scam may affect you personally, such non-existing and/or low quality open access journals do a bad service to the existing, high quality open access journals.

There should be ways to remove such scam websites from the net.


“Academic scams – my wife just received a version of this for an Autism article, PhD/DPhil/Masters students beware that mentions a receipt of a similar autism”
Related articles



12 responses

28 08 2011
Chris Leonard

One sure-fire to find out if an open access publisher is kosher, or not, is to check the OASPA member list. The Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association only admits publishers who adhere to certain guidelines. So even if they haven’t yet published anything (all journals have to start somewhere) you can see if they operate professionally and ethically here:

Medical Science Journals, you will not be surprised to find, are not members.

29 08 2011
Lambert Heller

The scammers even admit operating from Nigeria on their Contact page (http://www.sciencejournals.cc/contactus.html): “Head Office: Federal Capital Territory (Abuja), Nigeria. Branch Office: Accra, Ghana.”

31 08 2011

Dear Laika,
Very interesting and thought provoking case, well described and analyzed.
Nowadays it seems an easy job to run a publishing business and it is said that scientific publishers make a lot of money. Where easy-to-get large sums of money are to find, fellow-travellers (with bad intentions) will come like mosquito’s. My impression is that in general there is a huge number of new publishers active looking for manuscripts and reviewers. Some with the real and honest intention to start a business, others to seek an adventure or even worse.
Scientists in general might be a bit more naive than people in business, but they also are easy to catch by their need for seeking credentials and interest/attention for their research. Writing the articles and reviewing is done for free, and for publishing scientists pay..
Even if you do publish a lousy online journal, with people doing the work for free and with some victims paying (do not forget that many small amounts can easily mount up to a million), you might collect enough money. Indeed scientific fraud, but in a different meaning.

4 09 2011
Bibliotheken en het digitale leven in augustus 2011 « Dee'tjes

[…] I Got the Wrong Request from the Wrong Journal to Review the Wrong Piece. The Wrong kind of Open Acc… ( Laika’s MedLibLog) Ga niet in op peer review verzoek van Science Journal  […]

6 09 2011
Peter Sperti

I was once asked to publish my thesis for a journal called Food Studies, a bit of googling is enough to find out if something is a scam or not.

ok this is clearly spam from someone called sperti from aambeiengenezen dot com. [haemorrhoids, sperti=Rx]
Still I allow a funny spam comment, but will delete the link. [ps]

7 09 2011
Around the Web: The device wars, Feudalism knowledge, The wrong kind of Open Access and more : Confessions of a Science Librarian

[…] I Got the Wrong Request from the Wrong Journal to Review the Wrong Piece. The Wrong kind of Open Acc… […]

8 09 2011
Catherine Voutier

Fascinating. I think it is just a grab for money. The publish or perish issue is still around – get some reputable names and then naive scientists will pay money to have their papers published – get lots of money – close the site down after a year!

8 09 2011
FUTON Bias. Or Why Limiting to Free Full Text Might not Always be a Good Idea. « Laika's MedLibLog

[…] I Got the Wrong Request from the Wrong Journal to Review the Wrong Piece. The Wrong kind of Open Acc… (laikaspoetnik.wordpress.com) […]

8 09 2011
Bianca Kramer

I did a bit of sleuthing a while ago, and found some more info, none of which is particularly helpful in itself, but it might offer some leads…

– the site is not registered ‘in Africa’ per se, it is registered (anonymously, of course) with Web4Africa (http://www.web4africa.net), which is a domain registrar that claims to be the “Leading web hosting company and domain services provider in West Africa” but also claims to have clients worldwide (http://www.web4africa.net/about-us/overview.php). The IP-adress of the sciencejournals.cc site ( is located in Lansing, MI (USA) (http://www.ip-adress.com/whois/sciencejournals.cc). Apparently supporting the claim that the web hosting company serves clients worldwide, 9 other websites are hosted on this IP-address (http://www.ip-adress.com/reverse_ip/, including a company supplying aluminium roofs in Ghana, a satellite tv-provider in Bosnia, and, sigh, p*rnography.
Conclusion: this doesn’t tell us all that much about sciencejournals.cc

– I noticed that ‘John Morrison’ uses multiple e-mail adresses in his correspondence, namely “editor@sciencejournals.cc” (to David) and “sjp@gmail.com” (to Laika). By the way, that gmail-account does no longer seem to exist (I tried to get login help in Gmail and upon entering the address got a message that ‘no account was found with this address’ – or words to that effect, I used the Dutch interface).

– Perhaps the most interesting tidbit of information (easy to find on Google), is that this ‘John Morrison’ , albeit under a different name, seems to have posted 8 times on the PKP-support forum (http://pkp.sfu.ca/support/forum),explicitly naming his pet project ‘sciencejournals.cc’. He registered with the forum on April 14 2011, just days after he registered his domain name with Web4Africa.

23 10 2011
Silly Sunday #42 Open Access Week around the Globe « Laika's MedLibLog

[…] I Got the Wrong Request from the Wrong Journal to Review the Wrong Piece. The Wrong kind of Open Acc… (laikaspoetnik.wordpress.com) Advertisement Eco World Content From Across The Internet. Featured on EcoPressed Get ready for another new recycling label system Share this:TwitterFacebookStumbleUponDiggRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

19 12 2011
Jeffrey Beall’s List of Predatory, Open-Access Publishers, 2012 Edition « Laika's MedLibLog

[…] you remember that I previously wrote [1] about  non-existing and/or low quality scammy open access journals. I specifically wrote about Medical […]

17 05 2014
Becoming an editor. Not. » Indianalytics

[…] details seemed somewhat suspect to me. I did a little research on the web and found out that many others got invitation scam. So, I was on […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: