Ron Sandland recently wrote about the new phenomenon of 'big data' - weighing up the benefits and concerns. Terry Speed reflected on the same issue in a talk earlier this year inGothenburg, Sweeden noting that this is nothing new to statisticians. So what's all the fuss about? Here's another take on the 'big data' bandwagon.
Time to shut down tabloid journals and Academic Doping 19 August, 2016
The academic and research communities are being swamped under a tsunami of junk journal invitations promising rapid publication in their "prestigious" publications.
If you're a university academic or work in a research organisation, or even if you've ever published a paper, you're probably waking up each morning to an in-box full of crap emails from equally crap 'publishers' and 'conference organisers' inviting you to contribute your most valuable works in a field in which you have absolutely no experience. Such is the state of this scourge currently inflicting the R&D community. Flowery, waffling language bordering on the incredulous is a hallmark of these time-wasters. Take for example the following which was waiting for me when I woke up this morning: "Your research work blissfully compels us to invite you to the conference to make the same a perfect dais where exchange and exploration of knowledge can take place".
Are you serious?! "Blissfully compels us ... to make the same a perfect dais" - WTF!!! What are these clowns thinking?
Maybe I'm just getting old and grumpy - after all, a swift click of the delete button and they're gone! Perhaps, but the number of these inane communications is getting to the stage where my in-box is groaning under the weight of a mountain of merde. And like others, I spend far too much time sorting the crap from the legitimate - a task made more difficult by the predatory use of 'journal' titles sounding very similar to decent ones. Yes, you can set up filters and click unsubscribe but that takes time, it's imperfect and, clicking 'unsubscribe' actually lets the sender know they've got a 'live' email address.
The other phenomenon that appears to be gaining some traction is the blatant 'theft' of academic titles - particularly "Dr.". By way of example, I recently went (for the first time) to an osteopath seeking some relief from chronic back pain. While in the waiting room, I scanned the business cards of the staff at the centre and noticed everyone held the title of "Dr.". During the course of our meet and greet, I asked my osteopath if she had a medical degree or a PhD. She looked at me in surprise and said "neither, why do you ask?". I said I noticed it was on her business card at the front desk. She said that was news to her, but being new at the clinic she put it down to management's decision to embrace the decision of the Osteopathy Board of Australia (OBA) to call themselves 'Dr.'. Wow - how easy is that? Don't bother about putting in all the hard yards at a respected University to earn the right to use the title 'Dr.' - just award it to yourself!! According to the OBA's Communique, the use of 'Dr.' "is a courtesy title". How does that work? Where's the courtesy in that? and how is that more courteous than Mr., Mrs., or Ms.?
This is a blatant fraud designed to achieve one outcome and that's the creation of an impression that someone is more qualified than what they are.
This would be farcical if it wasn't so serious. It's not just that as the holder of a PhD and other hard-earned professional accreditations, I find this self-serving, dishonest, and highly offensive. It is the academic and professional equivalent of sports doping and should be eliminated!
Dr. (not self-awarded) David R. Fox
P.Stat. (American Statistical Association) C.Stat. (Royal Statistical Society, London) C.Sci. (Science Council, UK). UPDATE January 23 2017 Jeffrey Beall's website at UCD that monitored predatory open access journals has been mysteriously taken down without explanation. Read The Conversation's article about this whole sham industry here and listen to an ABC podcast here.