26 July 2017

World’s worst... scientific papers

I have a new project to share! Just for fun, I spent the last few days making another little ebook, similar to what I did with Presentation Tips.

Stinging the Predators is a collection of deliberately horrible papers that were created to punk predatory journals. There have been six such pranks in the last two years. The most recent, which sort of triggered this project, was on Neuroskeptic’s blog last Saturday. Thinking about all the “sting” papers I’d seen over the years, it occurred to me that fake papers were practically their own emerging genre. And what better way to draw attention to a genre than with a curated anthology?

I collected all the sting papers I knew about. There turned out to be thirteen, and collecting them convinced me that it was useful to have all these examples in one place. Each paper has a short new introduction, and links to articles about it. I rounded off the collection with some short essays, some of which appeared here on the blog before, and a couple of which were new.

Once I got started with this project, I couldn’t let it go. I promised myself I would only let myself work on it for a few days, and then get back to work on writing that could be published by other people.

The ebook is available on figshare and on DoctorZen.net.

Update, 28 July 2017: After I posted the first version, I was reminded of another sting paper on Google Plus (see? It’s not a ghost town). I found another abstract after that. I decided to make a quick turnaround from version 1 to 2. There are now fifteen entries in this anthology.

The easy to remember link is http://bit.ly/StingPred. (Capitalization matters! “stingpred” will not work.)

Update, 31 July 2017: I know, two revisions in less than a week? I learned of another sting paper, and another conference abstract, bringing the total number of entries to 169 pages of mostly rubbish. (Some will probably say all is rubbish.)

Update, 7 August 2017: This little project is featured in Times Higher Education today and the Improbable Research blog!

External links

Stinging the Predators on Figshare
Predatory Journals Hit By ‘Star Wars’ Sting
Worst ever research papers revealed
“All these papers were deliberately bad”

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