A number of so-called scientific journals have accepted a Star Wars-themed spoof paper. The manuscript is an absurd mess of factual errors, plagiarism and movie quotes. I know because I wrote it.Four, three of which must be desperate for content, bit:
Inspired by previous publishing “stings”, I wanted to test whether ‘predatory‘ journals would publish an obviously absurd paper. So I created a spoof manuscript about “midi-chlorians” – the fictional entities which live inside cells and give Jedi their powers in Star Wars. I filled it with other references to the galaxy far, far away, and submitted it to nine journals under the names of Dr Lucas McGeorge and Dr Annette Kin.
The American Journal of Medical and Biological Research (SciEP) accepted the paper, but asked for a $360 fee, which I didn’t pay. Amazingly, three other journals not only accepted but actually published the spoof. Here’s the paper from the International Journal of Molecular Biology: Open Access (MedCrave), Austin Journal of Pharmacology and Therapeutics (Austin) and American Research Journal of Biosciences (ARJ) I hadn’t expected this, as all those journals charge publication fees, but I never paid them a penny.The 'author' ripped material from Wikipedia and replaced 'mitochondria' with 'midi-chlorians' in the text, and added other star wars themed touches.
And the results?
- “Beyond supplying cellular energy, midichloria perform functions such as Force sensitivity…”
- “Involved in ATP production is the citric acid cycle, also referred to as the Kyloren cycle after its discoverer”
- “Midi-chlorians are microscopic life-forms that reside in all living cells – without the midi-chlorians, life couldn’t exist, and we’d have no knowledge of the force. Midichlorial disorders often erupt as brain diseases, such as autism.”
Credit where credit’s due, a number of journals rejected the paper: Journal of Translational Science (OAText); Advances in Medicine (Hindawi); Biochemistry & Physiology: Open Access (OMICS).
Two journals requested me to revise and resubmit the manuscript. At JSM Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (JSciMedCentral) both of the two peer reviewers spotted and seemingly enjoyed the Star Wars spoof, with one commenting that “The authors have neglected to add the following references: Lucas et al., 1977, Palpatine et al., 1980, and Calrissian et al., 1983”. Despite this, the journal asked me to revise and resubmit.
At the Journal of Molecular Biology and Techniques (Elyns Group), the two peer reviewers didn’t seem to get the joke, but recommended some changes such as reverting “midichlorians” back to “mitochondria.”
Finally, I should note that as a bonus, “Dr Lucas McGeorge” was sent an unsolicited invitation to serve on the editorial board of this journal. (bolding mine)