The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Shoddy scientific journal accepts paper titled ‘Get me off Your F**king Mailing List’

Whoops. (Mazieres and Kohler)

Don't believe everything you read.

While there are several excellent open-access journals out there — ones that aim to bring scientific papers to the public quickly, and without charging subscription fees — some of them are scams. And for $150, one of them will seemingly publish any paper that gets sent in. Even if that paper is actually just the same profanity-laden sentence repeated over and over again. Plus one flow chart and a clever graph.

The manuscript was created in 2005 as a joke, and the creators would send it as a reply whenever they got spammed with press releases or conference invites. That's how it made its way to the e-mail inboxes of the International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology. But for once, the submitting author was horrified to see his research get accepted.

Traditionally, a scientific paper is examined by unrelated experts in the field — a process called peer review — to make sure it isn't total bunk. Only after completing this process is it presented to the greater public with the journal's stamp of approval. But while this joke paper supposedly went through peer review (and was given a rating of "excellent," no less), that claim seems a little suspect.

The researcher who submitted the paper wasn't expecting to reveal this journal's issues, but other scientists have purposefully sent in bad work to do just that. From

Last April, for instance, a reporter for the Ottawa Citizen named Tom Spears wrote an entirely incoherent paper on soils, cancer treatment, and Mars, and submitted it to 18 online, for-profit journals. Eight of them quickly accepted it, asking for $1,000 to $5,000 in exchange for publication.