Get me off Your Fucking Mailing List


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In 2014 a scientific journal accepted a paper that made it crystal clear that the journal was predatory. The article just repeated the phrase “Get me off your fucking mailing list“, over and over again, and also included the phrase in figures and graphs.

In this article, we look at the paper, its history, as well as looking at the journal in question.

There have been many examples where researchers have submitted nonsense papers to predatory journals, only to have them accepted, usually very quickly. As long as the author pays the Article Processing Charges (APCs) the paper will be published and then be part of the scientific archive, albeit a very grey area of the scientific archive.

Perhaps the most famous of these is a paper that was submitted to the International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology in 2014.  This paper just repeated the sentence “Get me off your fucking mailing list” and also included the phrase in a figure and a table.

If you want to see the article, it is available here and here.

Fake Physics: Spoofs, Hoaxes and Fictitious Science


If you want to read about more sting operations, take a look at one of our articles where we discuss a few more. There are also some entertaining books that you might want to take a a look at, for example Fake Physics: Spoofs, Hoaxes and Fictitious Science.

Get me off your fucking mailing list

In 2005 David Mazières and Eddie Kohle wrote a paper that simply had seven words, repeated. Those words were “Get me off your fucking mailing list“. The paper also contained a figure and a graph (shown here – click on them to expand them), again made up using the same seven words.

They submitted the paper to the 9th World Multiconference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics conference in protest at the conference’s spamming and poor peer review standards.

In 2014, in response to an email from a predatory publisher, Peter Vamplew sent the paper to the International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology.

To his surprise, the paper was rated as “Excellent” by the journal and its reviewers. The acceptance email (PDF), the acceptance letter (PDF) and the review reports (PDF) can be seen by following the links.

When the paper was accepted a USD 150 fee was requested. The authors declined to pay, so that paper was never actually published. In some ways this is a shame, as it would have been interesting to see if the paper actually made it as far as appearing on the journal’s web site.

The fact that a journal could accept such a paper is astonishing. Some of the other stings, at least, had words that could be thought of as a scientific paper, until it was read a little more carefully. The “Get me off your fucking mailing list” paper, even from a cursory glance, is obviously nonsense, that should never have got past desk review, let alone peer review.

Media Coverage

When it became known that the article had been accepted, it received quite a lot of press coverage. This included The Guardian, which reported the case on 25 Nov 2014 [view], and Inside Higher Ed which reported it on 21 Nov 2014 [view].

International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology

The journal that Mazières and Kohle submitted to (albeit via Peter Vamplew) was the International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology. This journal was in Beall’s list, which has since closed down, but an archive is available in several places including here.

Membership of COPE

On the journal’s web site (accessed 04 Jan 2020) it states “IJACT follows publication ethics during phases of online publication inline with the guidelines and standards developed by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).” We thought this was a good statement to make, but wondered if the journal is actually a member of COPE, as it is not clear from their statement?

If you search for “International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology” on the COPE web site, the closest match is “International Journal of Advances in Computing and Information Technology“. That journal has an ISSN of 2277-9140, whereas IJACT has an ISSN 2319-7900.

As a sanity check, we also searched the COPE web site for both ISSN’s. 2277-9140 was found but 2319-7900 was not. Therefore, IJACT is not a member of COPE, even though they state they follow COPE’s ethical guidelines and provide a link to the COPE web site. We are unsure why you would mention COPE, if you are not a member, as those that do not check the COPE web site might assume that IJACT is a member of COPE? At best, this is confusing and, at worst, it could be argued that the journal is trying to mislead the scientific community.

Journal ISSN

We next looked up the journal on the ISSN portal. If you search for 2319-7900 (accessed 04 Jan 2020), you get a message that says “This record corresponds to a suppressed ISSN as the related resource has never been published.

Looking at the ISSN FAQ (accessed 04 Jan 2020), it says the following about suppressed ISSNs.

From this, it looks as if the ISSN was registered but has since been deleted? Just for completeness we also searched for 2277-9140 (accessed 04 Jan 2020) and this returned, as expected, the “International journal of advances in computing and information technology” (so we know the search functionality works).

Editorial Team

We also looked at the Editorial Team (accessed 04 Jan 2020). It is good to see that they all give their affiliations, and many have an email address. This information is often missing on predatory journal web sites.

It is also good to see that many of the editorial board members provide a URL, either to their Google Scholar page or to their home page.  Some of the URLs lead to “404’s” (i.e. page not found), but at least many are provided.

We have summarized the Editorial Team in the Appendix below. Of the twenty people listed, ten have provided a URL and ten have provided email addresses. We did not email the editorial team, but we did check their URLs.

Five of them went to a Google Scholar page. The image on the left shows the Editor-in-Chief (clicking on the image will take you to his Google Scholars page)

Four of the URLs did not work and one led to a University course page. So, of the 20 members, only five lead to useful pages (i.e. Google Scholar pages). It would actually be more useful if the URLs led to the institition’s home page so that their affiliation could be checked as well as their credentials to be an editorial board member.

How has the journal performed?

We thought it might be interesting to look at how the journal has performed since it was established in 2012. The graph (click on it to expand) shows the number of papers that the journal has published since its first issue in 2012 through to volume 8 in 2019.

It is noticeable that in the past few years (2017-2019) the number of papers that the journal is publishing has reduced significantly. This could have been due to the fact that they accepted the “Get me off Your Fucking Mailing List” paper, which was reported in the media in November 2014, although there was not a significant downturn immediately after this case came to light. What is striking is that through 2018 and 2019, they have only published one or two papers per issue whereas, on average, between 2012 and 2016 the journal published 11 papers per issue.

If you have an interest in research metrics, you might be interested in the book “Gaming the Metrics“. This is a Amazon link.

Apology

We apologies for using profanities in this article, but we felt it was important to present the material as it was presented to the journal. We could have used terms such as “f#*king”, but we decided not to do that and just report it verbatim.

Final Thoughts

The fact that this journal is still operating amazes us. You would have thought that accepting the “Get me off your fucking mailing list” paper would have forced it to close.

What is perhaps even more amazing is the fact that authors are still sending papers to this journal and, presumably, paying the Article Processing Charges of USD 150.

Perhaps the journal has changed and it is now a reputable journal but there are some worrying points about the web site, in addition the points mentioned above about COPE, the ISSN and the editorial members. For example:

  • If you click on the “Review Process” link it gives a 404 error, meaning that the web page does not exist.
  • On the “About this Journal” page it says “Instructions to author are designed in a detailed manner so that rejection of manuscript should be minimize“.  This is a strange thing for a reputable journal to say.
  • The authors are required to assign the copyright to the journal. This is unusual for an Open Access journal where the authors are required to pay to publish.

Given the fact that this journal accepted a paper that is described in this article, and the worries expressed above, we would urge extreme caution for authors who are considering submitting to this journal.

Appendix: IJACT Editorial Team

This appendix lists the editorial team of the International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology. It is provided as a historic record and it also supports the analysis that is carried out in this article.

IJACT Editorial Team
MemberURL ResultInstitutionEMAIL
Prof. Harish BaraithiyaGoogle Scholar PageMaulana Azad National Institute of Technology, India-462003editor@ijact.org
Dr. Saleh Ali AlomariGoogle Scholar PageUniversiti Sains Malaysia && Jadara Universitysalehalomari2005@yahoo.com
Dr. Abd El-Aziz AhmedUniversity page, but person not foundCairo Universityzizoah2003@gmail.com
Dr. Jigar PatelLinks to a Degree Course page, not the personKalol Institute of Managemen, Indiadrjigarvpatel@gmail.com, jignesh_29284@yahoo.com
Dr. Asim Kumar Sen404 (Page not found)St. Francis Institute Of Technology, Indiaasim_sen@linuxmail.org
Dr. G. Rosline Nesa kumariGoogle Scholar PageSaveetha University, Indiaroseline@saveetha.com
Dr. B. NARASIMHAN404 (Page not found)Maharshi Dayanand University, Indianaru2000us@yahoo.com
Dr. Anil Kumar404 (Page not found)Sam Higginbottom University of Agricultureanil.mera2002@gmail.com
Dr. Dola Sanjay SGoogle Scholar PageRamachandra College of Engineering, Indiadicedola@gmail.com
Arvind MewadaGoogle Scholar PageMNNIT Allahabad, Indiaarvindmewada@mnnit.ac.in
Dr. Mokhtar HamhamNot SuppliedAbdelmalek Essaadi University, MoroccoNot supplied
Dr. Ajay Singh TomarNot SuppliedJiwaji University, IndiaNot supplied
Dr. Anandaraj SPNot SuppliedSR Engineering College, IndiaNot supplied
Dr.T.C. ManjunathNot SuppliedHKBK College of Engineering, IndiaNot supplied
Dr.HARDEEP SINGH SAININot SuppliedIndo Global College of Engineering, IndiaNot supplied
Dr. N. S. Murthy SarmaNot SuppliedBonam Venkata Chalamayya Engineeering College, IndiaNot supplied
Dr. VUDA SREENIVASARAONot SuppliedBAHIR DAR UNIVERSITY, EthiopiaNot supplied
Dr. Dhanamma Shankar JagliNot SuppliedV. E. S. Institute of Technology, IndiaNot supplied
Dr. NARAYAN A. JOSHINot SuppliedInstitute of Science & Technology for Advanced Studies & Research, IndiaNot supplied
Dr. R. V. KRISHNAIAH,Not SuppliedDRK Institute of Science and Technology, IndiaNot supplied

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