Friday, May 08, 2009

Elsevier, fake medical journals, and yet another reason for #openaccess

For those of you not in the loop on this there is a bubbling story going around the web and in some news sources about Elsevier publishing fake science/medical journals for hire. First reported by The Scientist (as far as I can tell), the story just seems to get worse and worse. Basically, it seems one branch of Elsevier published a series of journals that were little more than advertisements for Merck products while pretending to be independent journals.

The whole thing is pretty sad. The head of Elsevier as well as multiple people that have worked at Elsevier seem to have not been aware of that these were being used to pretend they were real journals. But I think one this is abundantly clear - we can cross of the list of criticisms of Open Access publishing that the costly non open access journals and publishers are protecting the world from bad science. Instead, it seems like they are in fact explicitly and purposefully pushing bad science and medicine in order to make extra money. Lovely.

For more informaiton on the story see for example, Kate McDonald in the Australian Life Scientist (see Elsevier published fake medical journals - Elsevier Australia, Merck, Vioxx - Australian Life Scientist). In this article she reports:
The CEO of Elsevier’s Health Sciences division in the US, Michael Hansen, has now issued a statement admitting the company’s Australian office published six journals paid for by pharmaceutical companies.
Also see for example Forbes (via AP). The best source on this has been the Bloggosphere where there were a large number of discussions including
My favorite source so far has been Bill Hooker at Open Reading Frame who did some really useful digging into the details of what was being published. After his posting there has been an interesting discussion on FriendFeed (see embed below)

There also has been some other discussion on FriendFeed including the following from a Graham Steel posting:


  1. thank you! That looks like a great resource.

  2. I like having opportunities to use the word Schadenfreude in the correct context! That's what I feel when I read about Elsevier squirming to try to explain their behavior. Six fake journals! And now I have to wonder if that's all there are, and if other publishers have done anything similar. After all, it appears this was Merck's idea, so why wouldn't they and other companies approach other publishers?

    I blogged about this too:

  3. My friend Saul J will be very happy you used Schadenfreude here ... his favorite work.


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