2 responses

  1. Fletcher Christensen
    May 12, 2009

    Wow. I suppose I shouldn’t be all that surprised. Drugs are big money, and I’ve felt for a while now that a publishing system designed to deal with 18th and 19th century academic issues was probably maladaptive to dealing with 21st century scholarship. But if this is as nefarious as seems to be implied, then this constitutes genuine academic fraud.

    Me and my overly stringent viewpoint, we would support revisiting the credentialing of any academic who knowingly participated in such a fraud. I suspect any number of people could get suckered into this sort of thing – the number of journals is so large these days that scholars can’t be entirely faulted for not knowing a whole lot about the venues in which they publish. But someone, somewhere, had to understand that this was essentially defrauding the academic community, and anyone who willfully subverts the peer review process for personal gain has no business in academia.

    Plagiarism is academic fraud. Claiming a PhD without having written and defended a thesis is academic fraud. I don’t see how knowingly publishing data and analysis that won’t hold up under peer review in an unscrutinized venue is any better.

  2. Richard N. Landers
    May 12, 2009

    Well, the problem is that at-first-glance impartial magazines devoted to selling products are apparently pretty common in medicine (I imagine those fake talk show commercials on TV). Mimicking an academic journal is a step further than that, but it’s close enough that many doctors don’t see a difference. Take this quote from the bioethics.net piece:

    – These kinds of endeavors are not possible without help. One of The Scientist’s most notable finds is a Australian rheumatologist named Peter Brooks who served on the “honorary advisory board” of this “journal”. His take: “I don’t think it’s fair to say it was totally a marketing journal”, apparently on the grounds that it had excerpts from peer-reviewed papers.

    The whole thing reeks of careful, planned manipulation and extortion. Take this quote too:

    – The first fun thing to emerge in the Australian case is email documentation showing staff at Merck made a “hit list” of doctors who were critical of the company, or of the drug. This list contained words such as “neutralise”, “neutralised” and “discredit” next to the names of various doctors. “We may need to seek them out and destroy them where they live,” said one email, from a Merck employee. Staff are also alleged to have used other tactics, such as trying to interfere with academic appointments, and dropping hints about how funding to institutions might dry up.

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