You Have to Be “Cuckoo” to Pay Some Journal Processing Fees

Last February, I responded to a Guardian article on how computer generated papers were being accepted for academic conferences that charged a hefty fee. I argued that accepting “gobbledegook” is a predictable result of for-profit conferences—and journals (see below)—that are motivated to publish anything as long as the author pays a substantial “processing fee.” It is an affront to academic integrity.

This predatory practice is happening with predatory academic journals, too. Writing in Fast Company, Elizabeth Segran reports on Mark Shrime, a PhD student who made up an article and sent it to several “open-access” medical journals:

He did it using www.randomtextgenerator.com. The article is entitled “Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs?” and its authors are the venerable Pinkerton A. LeBrain and Orson Welles. The subtitle reads: “The surgical and neoplastic role of cacao extract in breakfast cereals.” Shrime submitted it to 37 journals over two weeks and, so far, 17 of them have accepted it.

However, the article has not yet been published. Why not?

They have not “published” it, but say they will as soon as Shrime pays the $500. This is often referred to as a “processing fee.” Shrime has no plans to pay them.

You really should read Shrime’s bogus article yourself. It’s worth a few laughs. I only got through the first page because much like QuickType (a.k.a. Auto-Complete), the sentences are grammatically correct but semantically meaningless. My head began to hurt.

But the article was not all just algorithmically composed nonsense. Shrime clearly had a sense of humor when he came up with the institutions that employ Messrs. LeBrain and Welles (who, by the way, have very similar voices). Azusa Atlantic appears to be a play on Azusa Pacific University, a Christian college near Pasadena, California. As for the Green Mountain Institute of Nutrition, I am going to guess that Shrimes was making himself a K-Cup coffee when inspiration struck.

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