List of predatory, parasitic, or pseudoscientific publishers and journals
Because Science does not need lack of rigor and seriousness, we do not need them ...
The Dolos list is here for you, researchers, journalists, or readers of the general public. It has an informative character and is at your disposal if you still doubt a journal or publisher who is not listed.
The predatory publishing sector is harmful to the researchers that it scams, to the journalists that it deludes, and to the general public that it misinforms. It is dangerous for public health, sometimes promoting dubious practices and toxic products that it will present as innocuous or curative. Science and people would suffer greatly from its expansion.
Taylor & Francis: Pseudoscientific and criminal ... Probably the most fraudulent "scientific" publisher on this planet!
French version available on this page ...
First of all, I must say that this publication method of the T&F File was not my first choice. I had opted for a slower method, but safer for me. The reception of disturbing e-mails, containing very personal information, however, pushed me to speed up the publication of the file, as a security measure. These are very different threats from the ones I'm talking about in the article about usual pressures of predatory publishers, and I can not ignore them this time. Given the language used in these threat messages, it is unlikely that a Taylor & Francis (T&F) employee is the author.
When I decided to launch the Dolos list on my website, a new list referencing a number of pseudo-scientific journals and predatory publishers, I did not think that I would find myself in possession of such a file. The world of predatory publishing was already quite special. For more information, you can consult some links that will surely interest you:
In the past, these journals were recorded on the Beall’s List, which Jeffrey Beall decided to delete for quite understandable reasons. The establishment of such a list, however, was a remarkably courageous initiative at the time and absolutely necessary. His list was then anonymously reproduced but was little updated and consulted. It is in this context that the Dolos list appeared, which records journal and publishers who set up a peer review of published articles of questionable or non-existent quality, with the aim of generating profit. Because in open access journals, the author pays to publish his article, not the reader, it was very quickly tempting for some publishing groups to reduce their criteria in terms of scientific rigor. There are some white lists, but - to name just one - "whitelists" like DOAJ are funded by publishers such as Frontiers, who have questionable peer reviews and prove to be predatory, or companies whose practices are similar. You will find more information about this in the article dedicated to the DOAJ case.
In compiling this list, I gave the scientific community the opportunity to participate by anonymously submitting proposals that my team would study. I then received, from a researcher, a request to add Dove Press. I realized that this predatory publisher belonged to Taylor & Francis (other link ici). It was indicated in light gray on white at the bottom of the Dove Press page. This surprised me, because if this publisher has a bad reputation, Taylor & Francis has an excellent one. So I inquired and confirmed that both Dove Press and T&F belong to the same company, Informa, whose revenue was £ 1.758 billion in 2017. So I was interested in Informa and T&F in order to an addition and found out on their Wikipedia page that T&F had already published dubious papers in one of their journals, the Critical Reviews in Toxicology. So I searched if the magazine still existed in the list of their journals, available on their website, and if it continued to publish suspicious articles. I didn't found it in this list. I then thought that the journal had been removed, in order to preserve the reputation of the scientific publisher T&F. It was a positive sign, but I still decided to include T&F, Dove Press, and Informa in my blacklist. Indedd, according to the rules of the Dolos list, dangerous publications in the medical field are reproachable to a publisher if it had taken place in the 6 years preceding its examination.
After inserting T&F in the Dolis list, my team received a message from a biochemist I know - and who wants to remain anonymous, with some download links and links to the website of a T&F-owned journal, still active but not indexed on their website: Critical Reviews in Toxicology. I took this message seriously and asked my team to peel all the articles of the magazine since 2016 (when it was supposed to have stopped these dubious publications). The results are terrifying. These are studies funded by multinationals to demonstrate that certain marketed or marketable products do not present a proven risk to humans. As these products are commonly accepted as highly dangerous, toxic, or carcinogenic, we were surprised to learn that some of these products and industrial processes were banned as such almost nowhere in Europe and that some of these supported products have been known for decades to be particularly dangerous or for use in the design and manufacture of chemical weapons.
The groups financing these studies are mentioned at the end of the article, before the references. These statements are intended to indicate possible conflicts of interest. The most well-known multinationals, such as Total and BP, use groupings of which they are members to fund these pseudoscientific studies, such as SIRC for Total, Asphalt for BP and Exon, and the American Chemistry Council (ACC), which you know without a doubt). Others are clearly displayed, such as Cabot, Colgate-Palmolyve, or Dow.
To help you see more clearly, do not hesitate to download the T&F File in its entirety, using the link provided in the annex of this article. The "Companies" file lists some examples of articles fully available depending on the groups that finance them. All articles in this journal for the past three years are also available in the "Content" sections and are sorted by year and by issue. The "General" section contains information about the journal and the publisher, including the editorial board, of which at least one member appears to work for a private group. The "screenshots" present dubious elements on the websites or information that we decided to keep in case these groups try to remove them from their respective websites, including the terms of access to certain items (such as rates to the day). In the meantime, you can directly consult the websites of the organizations mentioned or links provided.
If I had to make it short, I would say that this is the biggest case of conflict of interest in the scientific field I ever seen. But I will not be short, because the questions now raised are much more important and are justified by the impressive organization of this journal.
As I said before, T&F has a very good reputation. It would be considered at the same level than Springer Nature, Elsevier, De Gruyter Open, Wiley, or the Institute of Physics. Yet, they publish these papers. Why the scientific community does not lose trust in this publisher? Because they no longer index this journal on their website. Unless you know his name and know that it still exists - which the website does not seem to indicate, it's hard to find it. The articles are not (or very rarely) cited in other articles references. In fact, it is not intended for the scientific community, nor even for the press or the general public. Since the journal in question is not indexed on the publisher's website, it is not necessarily sent to universities subscribed to the publisher's journals and is only accessible if it is specifically searched for. T&F thus preserves its reputation while continuing to publish such papers on its journal, which inherits the reputation of T&F without compromising it.
But who can it benefit from? Since the publication of the Beall's list and the explosion of criticism of the scientific publishing sector on the internet, it has become difficult for multinationals (petrochemical, biochemical, and pharmaceutical groups to top the list) to go through publishers commonly recognized as predatory or pseudoscientific to justify maintaining a product on the market or marketing it. It was therefore necessary to have a reputable journal, but one that did not have a reliable and incorruptible peer review. It's delicate. It required a publisher deemed reliable, which publishes a pseudoscientific journal without the scientific community can have the opportunity to criticize (so that it remains reliable), but can be accessible if we know the name and which can publish studies (impossible to publish in a serious journal) in their interest. It is to these needs that the Critical Reviews in Toxicology meets. It is an extremely well thought out mechanism.
So who is it for? With this journal, lobbyists such as the ACC and its peers can submit studies, which are of course in their interest, to our legislators. They come from a journal owned by T&F, a renowned publisher ... Why would they doubt, when these pseudo-scientific studies face studies of low financial importance, commissioned by NGOs, or papers of biochemists including conclusions are simply incomprehensible to an uninformed reader? A member of Parliament would not have the training required to have an objective opinion on the issue and he could only rely on the reputation of the journals and their peer review.
While many researchers are crying about the excess of rigor of legitimate scientific publishing (sometimes with good reason), I would like to point out that without peer review, our publications would not have more scientific value than a tweet. A serious peer review is necessary if we do not want quality articles to be presented alongside papers whose purpose is to disseminate false information, sometimes dangerous for public health.
Because it goes far beyond the conservation of seriousness that is known to Science and the defense of the concept of scientific method. In the case that I exposed to you, the legitimate scientific edition serves as a tool for multinationals to hide the deadly danger of some products, in order to save their billions dollars (if we do the accounts, between ACC and others, we are in this order of magnitude) of revenue and protect their dangerous investments, not only for our environment, but also for the health and lives of people.
I hope that the press, considering the overwhelming elements that have already been transmitted, will be interested in this case. If this is not done and these acts are not disclosed, I fear that the interests at stake will always prevail over public health, truth, and Justice. Because, yes, these facts are characterized criminally, because these groups and the publisher have not only ignored scientific data, but have deliberately manufactured and disseminated, in a clearly premeditated manner, false scientific information in the goal of preserving or increasing their already considerable profits, while compromising public health and endangering - sometimes fatally - populations. But if they are deprived of this means to justify the marketing of these products, the implementation of these industrial processes, and the exploitation of these resources, the populations could very quickly no longer support these practices.
Finally, in this case, I do not think I will have any interest or even desire to hide behind anonymity. They are the criminals.
Professor Alexandre GEORGES,
By clicking on the annex above, you will be able to be redirected to a Google Drive page that will allow you to access the file.
Article published in October 2018.