We’ve all heard about nefarious corporations employing linkfarms (or cyber-robots) to artificially bump-up their Facebook ‘likes’ – or nogoodnik book publishers who pay fake reviewers to positively puff up their online book reviews – but surely the earnest and scholarly world of academic journal publishing is above that sort of thing? Maybe think again. A June 2015 paper in the journal Electronic Physician draws attention to ‘Impact Factor’ manipulation. [Impact Factors are widely-accepted rankings used to compare different journals within their field] Author Dr. Mehrdad Jalalian (Editor-in-Chief of Electronic Physician) alerts to the activities of fake impact factor companies which he says are being used to skew the ratings of some journals.
“Currently, there are many fake impact factor companies and misleading metrics, perhaps as many as 20–30, but the actual number is unknown. These fake companies have infected the world of academic publishing, and it really hurts those of us who wish to uphold scientific authenticity and credibility when we see these low quality and questionable journals.”
Even more discouraging, says the author :
“ […] is that fact that some truly reputable peer-reviewed journals and some universities have been duped by the cybercriminals and actually have added the logo of the fake impact factor companies and their assigned metrics on their journals’ websites. In one specific case, I called the Editor-in-Chief of a high-quality, university-based medical journal to ask him to remove the metrics assigned to his journal by one of the most ‘reputable’ fake impact factor companies. Much to my amazement and disappointment, he refused to do so even though he knew that the metric was fake.”