Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The shape-shifters grow ever bolder, sire

Back in the Second Age -- those vanished days of heroism and valiant deeds, before last Tuesday -- Don-Errant Jeffrey Beall used to maintain a list of Replicant Journals. Remember those? Persons unknown would select a niche scholarly journal, modest in ambitions but appearing on Whitelists of legitimate academic outlets (so publishing there is accredited to one's tenure or advancement), slap together a website with that name and identifying ISSN, and advertise that its scope had widened from glaciology or Balkan historical-biographical exegesis to "Science, Engineering, Humanities and Interdisciplinary Research". Then wait for the Processing Fees to roll in from academic wannabees with an urgent need to inflate their CVs.

The result is an entire genre of parasitical printeries... a secondary or irreal creation like something out of Gnostic theology, or like the police precinct staffed wholly by replicants that Decker stumbled upon in Electric Sheep. The websites are designed as write-only storage, not places to store one's submissions where people can read them [although they offer access to their doubtless-existent archives for a mere $2000 because there's one born every minute].
Printery run by poorly-maintained replicants
Beall's list is in abeyance now, though still lingering in archived form. It served the useful purpose of informing desperate faculty members of the Derek Zoolander University for Researchers who Can't Write Good and Wanna Learn to do Other Good Stuff Too, of new places where they could dump their execrable screeds. Dr. Mehrdad Jalalian curates a similar list, current up to 2015.

Of course you remember all that, but it is brought freshly to mind by the appearance here at stately Riddled Manor, flung over the transom, of solicitations for submissions in two freshly scope-widened journals. I am not convinced that 'transom' is really a word, or just something that Another Kiwi made up to rhyme with 'handsome' and 'ransom' in a dirty limerick.

The spammograms are strangely similar in style to earlier solicitations from longer-established shape-shifter projects.
Similarities include shared HTML design, in which the journal links, and unsubscribe links, and the concealed tracker code are all laundered through Ukraine-registered domains like "" or "".

Editorial panel
The same dramatis personae recur across the editorial panels. There can be few cosmopolitan, multi-talented Renaissance men and women who can switch so easily between glaciology and botany and literary discussion, so the smallness of the name-space is understandable.

But distances and national borders mean nothing in the modern globalised economy of publication grifting. When we go all Scooby-Doo with the forensic web-tracing tools, the domains for all these journals can be found on a server in Chicago, all squeezed into promiscuous propinqity, occupying the same IP address :
Bonus editorial panel
The vast and cool and unsympathetic intellects of the readers will notice that some of the other domains occupying that server -- in dangerously unsanitary and over-crowded conditions -- are not on any list of counterfeit journals. Knowledge-Insights, Researchpioneers, Pioneer-Scientists, Scienceborders... these are old friends of Riddled. They present themselves as "on-line libraries" (or portals) rather than journals, though they follow the same basic business grifting model of receiving payments from both the authors of (say) "A Comparative Study Of Phytochemical Screening In Plant Hemidesmus Indicus (L.) Collected From Different Geographical Regions Of Telangana State" or "Dynimic CAPM Theory Segmented Market", and from the prospective audience, avid to download the fifth or sixth re-publication of these opuscules.

'Portals' are less appealing to authors because the CV-inflation factor = 0. Far be it for me to tell gobshites that they are not gobshiting properly, but the gombeen behind these scams* was probably more successful with the "other other operation" (in which authors send him moneys in exchange for a promise not to publish their papers).

Obviously I'm bitter because “Ruslan Boranbaev” has not seen Stercoria / the Journal of Bullshit Studies as worth counterfeiting.
* Identified by Dr Jalalian as the pseudonym “Ruslan Boranbaev".

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