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William Briggs: How scientific journals fell for the Star Wars prank

Even a fake author's name like Lucas McGeorge failed to raise suspicion before publishing

William Briggs: How scientific journals fell for the Star Wars prank

Neuroskeptic, a blogger for Discover magazine, submitted a nonsense paper to several journals, some of which accepted and even published it.

The paper was laced with plagiarized quotes from Wikipedia, absurd medical jargon, and fanciful elements from Star Wars. It was submitted under the name “Lucas McGeorge.” This “McGeorge” wrote of “‘midi-chlorians’ — the fictional entities that live inside cells and give Jedi their powers.” The paper was filled with “references to the galaxy far, far away,” a galaxy which enjoys the disease “Lightsaber’s hereditary optic neuropathy.”

These journals all have class-A, super-science-sounding names.

Predators and Prey

Academic know all about these “predatory” journals. Two or three times a week I receive invitations to either submit to some new journal, and even to nominate myself to its editorial board. The Neuroskeptic said he was asked to be an editor for one of the journals he spoofed.

Anybody who can code a web page can set one up. They will publish (online) nearly any paper for a not-unsubstantial fee. This earns the writer a publishing credit, essential for every academic. If you’re lucky, and most are, your hiring-, tenure- or promotion-review committee won’t notice the shady source of your references.

This article continues at [] Hoax Shows Limits of Scientific Journals

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