And I thought scientists were smart…

I don’t get it. Really. I just don’t understand. Early this morning, when the first of the 90-odd emails bounced into my inbox, I looked again with disbelief. Yes. Sorry. It’s OMICS again…

Here it is:

Dear Dr. Caplan,

You have been invited to submit a paper for Journal Of Drug Metabolism & Toxicology.

I would be grateful if you would submit a paper for an upcoming issue on “Molecular Mechanisms of Apoptosis and Signalling Pathways”. 

To submit your article, please go to Your User Name is XXX-YYY and your password: XXX-ZZZ. 

Please respond to this invitation by 15 Aug 2013.

If possible, I would appreciate receiving your submission by 29 August, 2013. You may submit your paper online at the above URL.

We plan to publish your paper, along with others that we receive in the Aug 30, 2013 issue of the journal.

Benefits of the special issue
Contributors/authors: On special consideration, processing fee for special issue articles: $919 or [email protected]

I THOUGHT scientists were an elite group–and generally smart. That’s why this just doesn’t make sense.

Let’s start with the fact that I don’t do any work on drug metabolism and toxicology. Never have, and likely never will. I’ve also never published anything on APOPTOSIS. So why the hell would anyone possibly think to invite me to write a paper on the subject? With a deadline 3 weeks away. And with a “SPECIAL” processing fee of only $919. Lovely.

Okay, so I’m not naive. And I also know that I’m not an expert or even well versed scientist in the realm of apoptosis or drug metabolism or toxicology. So that makes this a scam. Pure and simple. A way to try and get money off an unsuspecting scientific mark. But what bothers is is that I’ve written about this OMICS company and their scams at least a year ago. This means that if they are continuing to advertise their scams and search for marks, then it must be working. And if it’s working, then what does that say about some of our scientist colleagues out there in the blogosphere *shudders*.


And a quick update on Ginger! I am completely in love with this dog. Smitten. Separation anxiety. The whole bit. She’s well acclimatized, listens to commands (occasionally obeys, too, when it suits her) and spends a great deal of time grooming me with licks to any exposed part of my body. Preferably face and neck. She whined/cried a little (for me–sleeping in my son’s room) the first night, but in successive nights she has snored her way through with no complaints. What can I say? It’s been too long without a dog!

Symbiosis: I’m a pillow and Ginger keeps me warm.

About Steve Caplan

I am a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska where I mentor a group of students, postdoctoral fellows and researchers working on endocytic protein trafficking. My first lablit novel, "Matter Over Mind," is about a biomedical researcher seeking tenure and struggling to overcome the consequences of growing up with a parent suffering from bipolar disorder. Lablit novel #2, "Welcome Home, Sir," published by Anaphora Literary Press, deals with a hypochondriac principal investigator whose service in the army and post-traumatic stress disorder actually prepare him well for academic, but not personal success. Novel #3, "A Degree of Betrayal," is an academic murder mystery. "Saving One" is my most recent novel set at the National Institutes of Health. Now IN PRESS: Today's Curiosity is Tomorrow's Cure: The Case for Basic Biomedical Research (CRC PRESS, 2021). All views expressed are my own, of course--after all, I hate advertising.
This entry was posted in research, science and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to And I thought scientists were smart…

  1. aeon says:

    I also once thought scientists were smart. Then, I submitted some papers and got comments from reviewers (and editors-in-chief) which were simply wrong, and stupid. Sometimes, they didn’t even bother to google specific terms (i.e., odd, but established names of geographical units) they did not know and supposed they were erroneous.

    But personal things and jests aside: I would reason that the assumption of scientists being smart enough to spot scam all of the time is slightly to optimistic. I would argue that in a sample large enough there will be someone who falls for it. Which makes it viable, as the costs for the scam are minimal. An e-mail costs virtually nothing but the time to write it. Getting the e-mail addresses of scientist is a matter of easy web-scarping; I could even write some R code for that myself without knowing anything about PHP, Python, or any other programming language.

    And even setting up an infrastructure, i.e. an actual server with a crappy online submission system and a predatory so-called journal is cheap. You can rent a virtual server from Amazon for pennies, I think.

    So, if you would send about 10000 e-mails every day, and one in a million would fall for the scam, it’s probably still paying off. That’s some stats I don’t like.

    But hey, what else would he have to complain about? 😉

    • Steve Caplan says:

      I still can’t see any scientist deciding to write about a field in which they know nothing about, and I don’t “get” what any scientist would view as worthwhile in publishing in such a journal. But I giuess there is a sucker born every minute…

  2. Educated and smart are most definitely not the same thing; I could supply numerous examples of each of those two characteristics existing in the absence of the other.

Comments are closed.