It almost seems too [bleeping] unreal to have taken place, but, alas, it has.
A phony scientific paper never intended for publication titled “Get me off your F—ing mailing list” has been accepted for a potential spot in the International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology.
The absurd paper protesting spam invitations consists of nothing more than those seven title words in their full, uncensored glory repeated over and over again, with charts and graphs also proclaiming the obscene message to emphasize the point.
It was reportedly created in 2005 by now-associate professors of computer science, David Mazieres, of Stanford University, and Eddie Kohler, of Harvard University.
But it’s experiencing new life after Peter Vamplew, a computer-science professor at Federation University in Victoria, Australia, recently submitted it for possible publication in the journal.
Interestingly, the journal called the paper “excellent” and provided directions to wire $150 to an account to proceed with publication, though Vamplew never sent the money.
Jeffrey Beall, an associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado, mentioned the incident on his blog, Scholarly Open Access. The site features a list of more than 650 publishers of what Beall has called “predatory” journals: publications of questionable quality that require authors to pay fees for their work to get published.
Beall told Nature magazine that up to 10 percent of open-access journals were exploiting the model by charging a fee to proofread, peer-review and edit a research paper without actually carrying out the work.
“They’re predatory journals, preying on young, inexperienced researchers who unwittingly don’t realize they’re of questionable quality,” Vamplew said.
Vamplew told the Guardian he submitted the phony paper expecting the journal’s editors to “read it, ignore it, and at best take me off their mailing list.”
But a few weeks later, “It was accepted for publication. I pretty much fell off my chair.”
The journal notified him that in accordance with the highest academic standards, “Get me off your F—ing mailing list” had been subjected to rigorous, anonymous peer review.
“They told me to add some more recent references and do a bit of reformatting,” he said.
“But otherwise they said its suitability for the journal was excellent.”
Beall told InsideHigherEd: “It’s clear that no peer review was done at all and that this particular journal (along with many like it) exists only to get money from scholarly authors. The open-access publishing model has some serious weaknesses, and predatory journals are poisoning all of scholarly communication.”
The editor of the International Journal responded to a request for comment from InsideHigherEd with an email stating:
“This is your work, you are publish any where any time but another person publish this work is is fraud and copyright. So you are send me a camera ready paper and payment slip as soon as possible.”
The editor did not provide a name, but the journal’s website indicates its editor-in-chief is Rishi Asthana, professor of computer science and engineering at Manglaytan University. The spelling is different from that of Mangalayatan University in India.
“This incident is pretty hilarious,” noted Joseph Stromberg of Vox.com. “But it’s a sign of a bigger problem in science publishing.
“This journal is one of many online-only, for-profit operations that take advantage of inexperienced researchers under pressure to publish their work in any outlet that seems superficially legitimate. They’re very different from respected, rigorous journals like Science and Nature that publish much of the research you read about in the news. Most troublingly, the predatory journals don’t conduct peer-review – the process where other scientists in the field evaluate a paper before it’s published.”
Despite the online recognition the case has brought him, Vamplew told the Guardian his main objective remains unfulfilled.
“They still haven’t taken me off their mailing list,” he said.