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Just a few minutes after I finished "Equal representation in the halls of quackery", this email arrived [names obscured to protect the guilty]:

Dear Dr. Liberman,

The journal P________ is currently running a Special Issue entitled "Molecular Dynamic Simulation for Food Products and Processes". Prof. Dr. A_____ S___ and Prof. Dr. V_____ R_______ are serving as Guest Editors for this issue. We think you could make an excellent contribution based on your expertise and your following paper:

Pitch-range perception: the dynamic interaction between voice quality and fundamental frequency. 17TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE INTERNATIONAL SPEECH COMMUNICATION ASSOCIATION (INTERSPEECH 2016), VOLS 1-5: UNDERSTANDING SPEECH PROCESSING IN HUMANS AND MACHINES 2016, 0, 1350-1354.

This Special Issue aims to present recent advances and breakthroughs in the application of MD simulations, in the development and maintenance of the safety and quality of food products and processes.

The cited paper, of which Jianjing Kuang is the first author, doesn't mention food or molecules, though dynamic does occur twice in our paper, and processing occurs once. Despite these words, there's nothing in the paper's content relevant to "Molecular Dynamic Simulation for Food Products and Processes", and nothing in my career to suggest any expertise in that area.

The letter explains that "An Article Processing Charge (APC) of CHF 2000 [= $2,129.56] currently applies to all accepted papers", which is not out of line for Open Access journals. But the letter's crude trawling for submissions certainly suggests that this is an example of predatory publishing, though the journal issuing the invitation is not on the List of Predatory Journals. (Apparently its publisher was removed from such lists after an appeal.)

But rather than complaining about perhaps-predatory publishing, or at least very poor quality trawling for submissions, maybe this is a hint about new opportunities. After all, people love to talk and cook and eat, sometimes at the same time, and so, um, maybe…



  1. John Swindle said,

    March 30, 2021 @ 7:36 am

    A new twist on making someone eat their words.

  2. Philip Taylor said,

    March 30, 2021 @ 7:56 am

    I was amused, but I was also staggered. You (myl) write "The letter explains that "An Article Processing Charge (APC) of CHF 2000 [= $2,129.56] currently applies to all accepted papers", which is not out of line for Open Access journals". Is this really true ? I confess that I have never submitted a paper to an open-access journal, but were I to do so, I would not in a million years be willing to pay such an outrageous sum in order for it to be published (or 'processed'). I can only assume from what you write, however, that others are either far more wealthy than I, or are less concerned about retaining what little capital they might otherwise possess.

    [(myl) Such charges are normally paid out of grants, or by the author's institution — the idea is that the sum of such payments is small compared to the total that institutional libraries pay in subscription fees for non-OA journals. Sometimes the equivalent of scholarships are available, for those who don't have the resources. And some OA journals have substantially lower fees, or even none at all.

    More broadly, there are a number of ideas and efforts Out There to find ways to support journal publication without either (often very large) subscription fees or large submission/publication fees. But that's another matter.]

  3. Cervantes said,

    March 30, 2021 @ 8:47 am

    Honestly, I get crap like that every day. I'm actually surprised this is a novelty for you. I'm also asked to join an editorial board, speak at a conference in China, contribute a book chapter, edit a special issue, whatever it may be, in some area wildly outside of my expertise, several times a week. (Paying a small fee, of course.)

    [(myl) I get similar academic spam frequently, but it's usually at least loosely connected to my credentials, skills, and accomplishments. Particular previous publications are rarely mentioned, but when they are, they're at least vaguely relevant. This solicitation was like getting invited to contribute to a cosmology journal because I once mentioned the use of the "star" symbol to indicate ungrammaticality.]

  4. Jan Ainsworth said,

    March 30, 2021 @ 12:10 pm

    I'm with Cervantes, I, too, get spam invitations in areas far-flung from my own fields. Recently I got one stating that, as a result of a book review I had written (on a book about forensic linguistics), the organization was 'extremely impressed by your expertise in oncological nursing.' Other than my biennial mammogram, I have no connection to oncology at all.

  5. James Wimberley said,

    March 30, 2021 @ 3:06 pm

    Is "the Journal of Predatory Journals" a predatory journal? Should it list itself?

  6. Bob Ladd said,

    March 30, 2021 @ 3:39 pm

    Like Cervantes and Jan Ainsworth, I also get invitations to submit to journals on quite a variety of fields on the basis that the editors are supposedly impressed by some paper (or book review, like Jan Ainsworth) that I wrote that has nothing to do with the topic of the journal. You almost wonder why they bother mentioning a specific article.

    [(myl) Email is cheap, and so is stupid search. If 0.1% of 10,000 people respond to one of these emails, that's 10 hits at $2k each, or $20k. It's cheap to generate big email lists by automated search for stupid keyboards on various online search services. The alternative would be to pay people to find less stupid but smaller lists, either by human judgment or by more clever search coding. Apparently stupid wins.]

  7. D. Gold said,

    March 30, 2021 @ 7:58 pm

    I used to get such offers from India. To stop the flow, block the senders' addresses.

  8. Cervantes said,

    March 31, 2021 @ 1:20 pm

    I might add that these often are in broken, even barely comprehsible English, with elaborately contrasting and even colored fonts. You would think that would make it highly unlikely that anybody would be taken in.

  9. Philip Taylor said,

    March 31, 2021 @ 1:47 pm

    What I find particularly interesting is that the good Prof. Dr. A_____ S___ and Prof. Dr. V_____ R_______ are bona fide academics at very respectable universities. Why would such people be willing to be associated with near-scams such as this ?

  10. maidhc said,

    April 1, 2021 @ 3:31 am

    I wonder whether Prof. Dr. A_____ S___ and Prof. Dr. V_____ R_______ even know that they are participating in this special issue.

    Or possibly they just clicked on something to get it to go away.

    The fake journal thing seems to be a major industry, although I wonder if there are just a few people handling it, or else a vast army of cyberserfs.

  11. Alexander Pruss said,

    April 1, 2021 @ 12:36 pm

    It seems to me that there are actually two markets here: (a) scholars who are taken in and (b) scholars who are hoping to take their institution in and grow their CV. In the case of (b), the poor English and the colored fonts are less relevant, though the off-topic name of the journal still matters.

  12. Graeme said,

    April 3, 2021 @ 7:32 am

    Speech – > mouths -> food.

    (NZ colleague and I published on the law regulating foreign political activity in Australasia.
    We used 'Islands in the Storm' as a cheap metaphor in the title.
    Within a month, we were beseeched to write for a 'journal' of marine science, special edition on tidal waves.)

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