Masters of Illusion

One of my favorite scenes from the Simpsons is where bartender Moe sets up a fake upscale looking entrance to his bar to try and attract more customers.  After entering the bar the upscale customer says, “Hey, this isn’t faux dive. This is a dive,” to which Moe responds, “You’re a long way from home, yuppie-boy. I’ll start a tab.”

With just a few word changes and the same idea could be expressed about fake academic journals.  This has been a topic of discussion for the last few years in the library world.  The New York Times has an interesting and more mainstream article addressing the issue of fake journals and fake academic conferences.

In the article “Fake Academe, Looking Much Like the Real Thing” Kevin Carey, describes how he was contacted via phone call to attend a conference in Philadelphia a mere 20 minutes after he entered his information on a website.  Carey also goes on to describe how many of these real sounding “associations” can have shady if not outright illegal dealings and offer little to no academic rigor for paper submissions.

Unfortunately we live in a time when what is faux dive and real dive is getting harder and harder to determine.  Lots of people have fallen prey to fake news by re-posting the stories on the social media accounts.  People need to do more investigating to determine legitimate sources of information (news or academic).  However, we also live in a time where people often feel too rushed to do that.  Everything must be done NOW!  Wait for an article to come via ILL? Nope just find another one that is available online that can.

Unlike falling prey to fake news on social media, the fake “scholarly” associations, publications, etc. might cause the researcher more time and money than if they had slowed down and investigated things.  I know there are librarians who actively help their researchers avoid questionable publishers.  My guess though is that for every researcher a librarian helps there is another who falls victim.  Hopefully more mainstream stories like this will help alert others to do a little more digging.

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