The plot thickens: More fake journals in the Elsevier/Merck story

Earlier in the week we learned about Elsevier publishing a fake “journal” for the pharmaceutical giant Merck. The Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine presented itself as a peer-reviewed publication with a prestigious editorial board, but in reality consisted entirely of reprinted articles and material favorable to Merck products like Fosamax. I assume that copies of the journal were used as marketing material, stuffed into conference schwag bags and clinicians’ hospital mailboxes — one step down from those ads that look like single-column articles in the newspaper, since neither Elsevier nor Merck took the trouble to write “ADVERTISEMENT” in little block letters at the top of AJBJM.

Now, a cunning bit of “forensic librarianship” has revealed that this may have been merely the tip of the iceberg, and that AJBJM may have been one of a large stable of fake journals (“Excerpta Medica”), all devoted to accomplishing similar goals in different fields. In other words, Elsevier didn’t run a few copies of a bogus journal — it ran a whole bogus label. The original analysis can be found at Bibliographic Wilderness, with commentary at Caveat Lector and Open Reading Frame.

(Hat tip to @kaythaney of Science Commons, whose tweet this morning pointed me in the direction of this news.)

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