Sham Paper Published by 149 Open-Access Journals


An article ostensibly showing cancer growth inhibition by a molecule derived from lichen — but which was in fact a spoof written by an editor from the journal Science — was accepted for publication by 149 open-access journals, including journals hosted by industry leaders Sage and Elsevier. A notable exception – PLoS One – was the only journal to check on ethical concerns before rejecting the article for scientific quality.

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. Wow. I suspect that this news story won’t get much attention from MIA readers, but I think it is very relevant to us. It shows how scientific research has been utterly corrupted, not just in psychiatry but across a wide range of fields. I thought I knew a lot about this issue, but it’s a lot worse than I thought. Meanwhile, our country spends a sixth of our GNP on health care, much of it for the various wonder drugs the Big Pharma promotes, and it’s pretty clear that a lot of this money is going down a sewer.

    Also, I have to say that I really appreciated the writer’s cleverness and sense of humor. What a beautiful job he did creating this trap for the phoney “scientific” publishers!

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  2. Which is why PloS One is the most reliable journal around. It just goes to show how shabby the “peer review” process is and how questionable the ethics of these journals really are. The state of medical science in these days is pretty pathetic.

    — steve

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