Response to “A plague of Brazilian science: second class articles”
Font Size: Small - Large By Scirp.org – 2014-12-18

The Brasilian weekly news magazine VEJA (“look at it”) published in S?o Paulo and distributed throughout the country [1] published an article titled “Uma praga da ciência brasileira: os artigos de segunda” similar to: “A plague of Brazilian science: second class articles” on 6th December 2014. Author: Fernanda Allegretti (reporter at VEJA [2]). SCIRP is also mentioned in one paragraph of this long article. SCIRP was alarmed about this article thanks to one of its Brazilian authors who points out in his e-mail dated 2014-12-10: “many Brazilians are submitting articles to your journals based on an evaluation from an agency called CAPES … saying that … your journals are okay.” The VEJA article is this:

 

http://veja.abril.com.br/noticia/ciencia/uma-praga-da-ciencia-brasileira-os-artigos-de-segunda

 

Normally, we do not copy the article here. This one however is in Portuguese. A translation of the paragraph about SCIRP with http://translate.google.com subsequently adapted is probably helpful for most readers. Here it is:

 

Another scholar in a position taking care of the quality of research in Brazil also enjoys the possibilities using low credibility journals as a vehicle. It is Jailson Bittencourt de Andrade, a professor at the Federal University of Bahia, counselor of the Brazilian Society for the Progress of Science and consultant CNPq, CAPES, FAPESP and FINEP. Andrade – who did not respond to the request for interview – is named as co-author of a text in Scientific Research Publishing (Scirp) published at a price of 1000 dollar (just over 2500 reais). This Chinese publisher is the same used by the Egyptian Mohamed El Naschie, contesting alleged theory of relativity. El Naschie’s questionable publishing practice was pointed out by Nature in 2008. In 2010, the magazine published another text warning of the unethical practices of Scirp that copied respectable articles from other sites and added to the pages of its more than 200 journals in order to make them look trustworthy. In addition, Scirp added to its editorial board flashy names without their knowledge.

 

Response:

 

In short: This is a newspaper style article. It does not give proper references and it does not quote directly. As such the whole paragraph about SCIRP is the unsuccessful mixture of an invented Brazilian story, an imprecise Internet review, and the author’s ignorance of Open Access publishing principles.

 

First thing is to make the paragraph about SCIRP a little more scientific in its wording with proper references and quoted text. So, please read the modified text, only now it starts to make sense, only now it is possible to argue with it:

 

Another scholar in a position taking care of the quality of research in Brazil may have enjoyed the possibilities using an alleged low credibility journal as a vehicle. It is Jailson Bittencourt de Andrade [3]. His Google Scholar profile shows 298 publications, 4036 citations and an h-index of 33 on 2014-12-08 [4]. He is a professor at the Federal University of Bahia, counselor of the Brazilian Society for the Progress of Science (SBPC) [5] and consultant National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) [6], Coordena??o de Aperfei?oamento de Pessoal de Nivel Superior (CAPES) [7], S?o Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) [8] and FINEP [9]. Andrade is named as co-author of one paper in Scientific Research Publishing (SCIPR) journal American Journal of Analytical Chemistry (AJAC) [10] published at a price of 800 USD [18].

 

The Chinese publisher [11] is the same used by the Egyptian Mohamed El Naschie [12]. Based on counting at SCIRP [13], El Naschie published 10 papers with SCIRP, most of them on “Dark Energy”. El Naschie’s questionable publishing practice was pointed out by Nature in 2008 [14]: “Five of the 36 papers in the December [2008] issue [15] of [Elsevier’s journal] Chaos, Solitons and Fractals alone were written by its editor-in-chief, Mohamed El Naschie. And the year to date has seen nearly 60 papers written by him appear in the journal. El Naschie was Editor-in-Chief of Elsevier’s journal “Chaos, Solitons & Fractals” “Peter Woit, a mathematical physicist at Columbia University in New York, says he thinks that ‘it’s plain obvious that there was either zero, or at best very poor, peer review, of his own papers’. There is, however, little evidence that they have harmed the field as a whole.“ Based on this and other text in Nature’s article El Naschie sued Nature, but was without success. [16]

 

In 2010, the magazine (Nature) published another text [17] warning of the unethical practices of Scirp that copied articles from other sites and added to the pages of two of its journals. In the same article [17] Nature already reports that it was “a mistake caused by posting sample content for the new journals“ and that “links to the content have since been removed”.

 

In addition, Scirp added to its editorial board flashy names apparently without their knowledge. ?Zhou [form SCIRP] says that Scientific Research has e-mails from each scientist listed on the website agreeing to the position. Some of them say they thought they had agreed to be on the board of more established journals. ?Because of my crazily busy schedule at that time, I did not carefully read their information and mistakenly thought that it was the Journal of Biological Chemistry,’ says Kim“ ?a neurobiologist at Harvard Medical School based in Belmont, Massachusetts.“[17] In the same article [17] Nature already reports that ?journals published by Scientific Research have removed from lists of editorial boards the names of researchers who say they did not agree to such positions.“

 

Wrong messages and wrong conclusions in VEJA’s paragraph about SCIRP:

 

·         Fernanda Allegretti is quoting wrong Article Processing Charges (APC) at AJAC at SCIRP. It is 800 USD and not as reported 1000 USD. [18]

·         Charging Article Processing Charges is an accepted business model in Gold Open Access publishing [19]. There is nothing wrong with it. Allegretti tries to convey a negative message with pointing out APCs.

·         Allegretti is mixing two issues. First of all the controversy about Mohamed El Naschie was with Elsevier’s journal “Chaos, Solitons and Fractals”. El Naschie retired from that journal as Editor-in-Chief maybe in connection with an article in Nature [14]. He sued Nature, but lost the case [16]. The only statement that can be made here with respect to SCIRP is that El Naschie has also published in journals at SCIRP.

·         Now Allegretti makes several wrong conclusions:

o   From the fact that El Naschie has lost in court against nature and has also published at SCIRP, he concludes all of the more than 30000 papers [11] at SCIRP are “second class”. WRONG CONCLUSION!

o   Allegretti concludes further that also de Andrade’s paper is second class because it is one of the more than 30000 papers. WRONG CONCLUSION!

o   Allegretti concludes further that de Andrade himself is second class, because at least one of his 298 papers [4] is second class. WRONG CONCLUSION!

o   Second class researcher do exist, but Allegretti concludes further that here is a scandal, because de Andrade is a consultant for several Brazilian research organizations. WRONG, because all of the foregoing is wrong.

·         SCIRP added incorrectly papers to 2 journals (at a time when it had 34), but Allegretti writes SCIRP had “added to the pages of its more than 200 journals”. Also Allegretti ommits to mention that the issue was already solved in 2010. WRONG STATEMENT!

·         The issue about adding “flashy names” to editorial boards was never really an issue and was solved already in 2010.

 

Conclusion

 

We may see here a typical newspaper activity: “We need a story – no matter what it costs. If there is no story we make one up.”

 

References

 

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veja_%28magazine%29

[2] http://veja.abril.com.br/expediente

[3] http://www.abc.org.br/~jailsong

[4] http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=n45KPOoAAAAJ&hl=en

[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sociedade_Brasileira_para_o_Progresso_da_Ci%C3%AAncia

[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Council_for_Scientific_and_Technological_Development

[7] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coordenadoria_de_Aperfei%C3%A7oamento_de_Pessoal_de_N%C3%ADvel_Superior

[8] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%C3%A3o_Paulo_Research_Foundation

[9] http://www.finep.gov.br

[10] http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ajac.2014.53019

[11] http://www.scirp.org/aboutus/

[12] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohamed_El_Naschie

[13] http://www.scirp.org/journal/Articles.aspx?searchCode=Mohamed+El+Naschie&searchField=All_authors

[14] http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/456432a

[15] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/09600779/38/5

[16] http://www.nature.com/nature/newspdf/456432a-s1.pdf

[17] http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/463148a

[18] www.scirp.org/journal/ForAuthors.aspx?JournalID=203

[19] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_processing_charge