How fake research articles are making you fat cover image

How fake research articles are making you fat

Dorian Minors • February 10, 2016

This is an archived article from our predecessor website, The Dirt Psychology. The idea there was to take psychological scholarship and turn it into wisdom. The Armchair Collective tries to go a little further than just psychology. As such, these articles live here in archive form, until they're updated.

Academic publishers are so evil; they could star as the villain in the next James Bond movie. Don't believe me? Well, you might if you know that they've been known to organise arms trade fairs. Consequently, scientists are doing their best to move away from these hotbeds of mendacious management of medico manuscripts.

Enter the predator

. Not the kind of majestic predator you're thinking of. More like a sex predator. Or a politician.

With obscene profit margins, academic publishing is an attractive industry. The returns are on par with the largest pharmaceutical companies out there, and they do stuff like jack up drug prices to something arbitrarily prohibitive. So of course, your neighbourly charlatan is going to want to get in on the action. Companies have started creating journals that will accept any paper, for a fee. Since the fees are on par with what legitimate publishers (who review the work they publish, although not always) charge, there's no downside. Write anything, get published. Like that time a dude wrote a paper that contained nothing but 'Get me off your f**king mailing list' and an 'independent reviewer' rated it excellent. You can see paper now in the International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology. Now you're a published scientist. Not all academics are just unscrupulously publishing anything, though. Very commonly, the journals will pose as real journals - in essence, hijacking the reputation to appear legitimate. Other times, with the sheer number of journals cropping up to cater for niche research areas it can be hard to distinguish the real from the fake.

Fake articles are making you fat (and the implications are terrifying)

Fortunately, some concerned citizens have started tracking hijacked and flat out predatory journals in an effort to expose the frauds. But that doesn't stop the media from publishing this nonsense without checking the facts. Like that time a researcher intentionally published a fake article the 'found' that chocolate makes you lose weight - a tidbit which was subsequently published all over the place. Now? It's 'common knowledge' and I hear people telling me that even today. The implications are terrifying. What number of things do you consider best practice, that could be fake? My advice? Before you decide to take the word of an article? Check the list. Or, do like Rich Gang and:

tell 'em lies

You know, your brain is tuned to accept lies? Only certain kinds, though. In fact, very often, you're lying to yourself. In other news, learn how psychics use psychology to screw you. Giving you the dirt on your search for understanding, psychological freedom and 'the good life' at The Dirt Psychology.

Turning scholarship into wisdom we can use at The Armchair Collective.

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Dorian Minors

I mostly do brain science. Sometimes I train honeybees. I promise they're related. I made this site because there's no reason why scholars should be the only ones to own knowledge. My special interests are interpersonal relationships, the science of community, spirituality and the brain, and the neural basis of complex behaviour. I hope this stuff is as interesting to you as it is to me. You can find out more about me here.