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Earlier this year, I was anonymously informed of the existence of a fraudulent journal, Reactive Oxygen Species. When I investigated, I found that the "Editorial Team" of "international experts" consisted of three rather unlikely names -- middle initial Z -- and on further investigation, I found that none had any internet presence whatsoever that was not connected to the journal: they were fictitious. The Editorial Board had 280 members, though the journal had only published about 150 papers in its history. A large fraction were from minor institutions in underdeveloped countries. In fact, I joined the Editorial Board myself simply by registering on the site.

It turned out that the journal had an "Honorary Editor". Coincidentally, his name was on 20+ of the 150 published papers, and his wife's name was on another 20+. He even co-authored papers with the fictitious editorial board members.

The journal is owned by a for-profit corporation registered with the North Carolina Secretary of State. The address of record is the Honorary Editor's home address, and he files the annual reports.

I am aware that this scholar is the subject of an ethics investigation at his home institution. However, even if he is dismissed as I hope, he will be under no pressure to dismantle the journal. The journal very clearly claims to be peer-reviewed, and there is the obvious danger that honest scholars may rely on the research. There is also a danger that legitimate authors will continue to submit and publish papers to their own future embarrassment.

In addition, he (or someone) has recently removed the fictitious names and his own from the masthead, probably owing to the investigation (not COVID-19.) He is now advertising for applications for Editorial Team positions. It turns out that even the position of Honorary Editor still exists and is open to applicants. There is some danger that a naive assistant professor somewhere will see an opportunity for advancement, when it is just the opposite. It might seem fanciful to think that anyone would fall for this, but he and his wife have held NIH grants, and he holds adjunct appointments at four or five institutions.

So my question is: what should I do to let as many people as possible know not to rely on papers in this journal, not to submit papers, and not to involve themselves with the journal in any way?

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    "There is some danger that a naive assistant professor somewhere will see an opportunity for advancement, when it is just the opposite." In my field, the chances of that happening are zero. Nobody becomes an assistant professor without developing a good sense for gauging the seriousness of a journal. Commented Apr 14, 2020 at 7:30
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    This is false. Invitations to editorial boards are flattering. A half dozen or so of the 280 editorial board members are senior people at reputable institutions. Presumably they were invited to serve by the editor and accepted.
    – Rex D
    Commented Apr 14, 2020 at 13:21
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    If you think they are doing sth. criminal, call up the state attorney. If not, let people get what they ask for. An academic with no common sense probably needs to experience a few failures until he brightens up.
    – Karl
    Commented Apr 14, 2020 at 13:40
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    It's possible that these people have been added to the website without their consent and knowledge (I know of documented cases in spam journals where this happened). Commented Apr 14, 2020 at 13:42
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    Why publicize it at all? Just ignore it. Commented Apr 14, 2020 at 15:50

2 Answers 2

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Send it to one of the successors to Beall's list of predatory journals. Their websites:

  • Cabell’s whitelist/blacklist: commercial, subscription required for access, but accepts listings
  • Stop Predatory Journals (now-defunct itself): open-access, crowdsourced via Github, successor to the now-defunct ScholarlyOA site. Archive link.
  • Beall's original list: now being maintained by an anonymous European postdoc
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  • This is awesome. I reported it to all three.
    – Rex D
    Commented Apr 14, 2020 at 14:52
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    Just to be clear: these lists do not accept any listing that's sent their way, right? They do their own vetting of entries sent their way so they don't end up with accidentally adding Nature to their list because a troll submitted it?
    – Nzall
    Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 12:42
  • The links are out of date. Commented Aug 20, 2023 at 2:42
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There is little point in publicizing a particular fraudulent journal. It costs very little to set up a fraudulent journal. If people become aware of one fraudulent journal, criminals will simply create a new one that is little known.

What is useful is for academics to treat all journals as fraudulent until they have evidence otherwise. Teach your students (if any) to be skeptical. Teach them to never pay money to low-quality journals, even if they are not fraudulent.

(Gathering evidence that a journal is not fraudulent is easy; just read the journal. If it has good contents, it is a good journal. If the journal has bad contents and is not fraudulent, don't publish there anyway.)

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    Anybody have an example of a fake "journal" that copies articles from good journals to create the impression of good quality? Presumably major publishers have lawyers that punish anyone who takes that tactic. Commented Apr 14, 2020 at 4:42
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    Some good advice here.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Apr 14, 2020 at 5:21
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    @AnonymousPhysicist Im sure it´s been tried, but it´s hardly a profitable scheme. The lawyer fees alone will bancrupt Mr. Fraudulus Publisher before the case even reaches court. ;)
    – Karl
    Commented Apr 14, 2020 at 13:50
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    @Karl these journals are often located in countries where the process for dealing with a cease and desist letter involves a hearty laugh before throwing it in the trash
    – eps
    Commented Apr 14, 2020 at 18:38

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