Quote:As a medical researcher at Harvard, Mark Shrime gets a very special kind of spam in his inbox: every day, he receives at least one request from an open-access medical journal promising to publish his research if he would only pay $500.
"You block one of them with your spam filter and immediately another one pops up," Shrime, an MD who is pursuing a PhD in health policy, tells me.
These emails are annoying, for sure, but Shrime was worried that there might be bigger issues at stake: What exactly are these journals publishing and who is taking these journals to be credible sources of medical information?
Shrime decided to see how easy it would be to publish an article. So he made one up. Like, he literally made one up. He did it using http://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. (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.) Several have already typeset it and given him reviews
and that's where our scholarly information comes from.