Are you getting your health research from cartoons?

January 01, 2015
Volume 12    |   Issue 01

Do you know who Maggie Simpson and Edna Krabappel are? If you're a fan of a certain TV show, you'll recognize these names right away. If not, take a closer look at Maggie's last name. That's right! Maggie and Edna are characters on the animated adult sitcom "The Simpsons."

They certainly aren't scientists. In fact, they're not even real people. And they certainly didn't conduct research at Belford University (also fictional) with a colleague named Kim Jong Fun.

So why was their paper, entitled "Fuzzy, Homogenous Configurations," accepted by both the Journal of Computational Intelligence and Electronic Systems and the Aperito Journal of NanoScience Technology?

That's a good question.

Unfortunately, an entire industry has been built up by predatory journals. These journals send messages to scientists, offering to publish their work – for a fee, of course. Engineer Alex Smolyanitsky decided to expose them. He created the paper with a program called SCIgen, a random text generator. And he attributed his work to Maggie and Edna.

Here's a snapshot of the abstract, as published by Aperito: "The Ethernet must work. In this paper, we confirm the improvement of e-commerce. WEKAU, our new methodology for forward-error correction, is the solution to all of these challenges." For this "brilliant" analysis, one of the journals is trying to charge Smolyanitsky $459.

This isn't the first time journals like these have been exposed for publishing nonsense. Others have submitted completely made-up papers – and accepted. There's no review process, and these journals make their money by charging the authors, rather than by selling subscriptions, the way legitimate journals do. Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado, has been keeping track of these predatory journals to help warn researchers against their tactics. The list currently contains 550 publishers and journals.

This is troubling news because it means that good research is harder to find. It's essential that the studies we base decisions about our health and our lives on are legitimate and accurate. Fortunately, you've come to the right place for accurate information. I cite studies only from legitimate journals. Cartoon characters might improve our health with stress-relieving laughter, but there's no place for them in our research.

Your voice of reason in Women's Health,

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