Markets in Everything: Fake Articles

DISGUISED as employees of a gas company, a team of policemen burst into a flat in Beijing on September 1st. Two suspects inside panicked and tossed a plastic bag full of money out of a 15th-floor window. Red hundred-yuan notes worth as much as $50,000 fluttered to the pavement below.

Money raining down on pedestrians was not as bizarre, however, as the racket behind it. China is known for its pirated DVDs and fake designer gear, but these criminals were producing something more intellectual: fake scholarly articles which they sold to academics, and counterfeit versions of existing medical journals in which they sold publication slots.

…The pirated medical-journal racket broken up in Beijing shows that there is a well-developed market for publication beyond the authentic SCI journals. The cost of placing an article in one of the counterfeit journals was up to $650, police said. Purchasing a fake article cost up to $250. Police said the racket had earned several million yuan ($500,000 or more) since 2009. Customers were typically medical researchers angling for promotion.

FromĀ The Economist.

Hat tip: Derek Lowe.


This would seem to suggest that the scholarly journal article market is heavily cartelized. I wonder what the true monetary worth of academic work would be if we were able to clear away all the market distortions...

A fancier version of a similar scam. Accept articles & charge user fees for a real authentic journal.

Didn't these researchers know all they had to do was set up their own institute? Then, they could solicit donations, publish their own journals, hold their own conferences, etc. After all, it is how a certain select group of American researchers continue to publish themselves - even to the point where the Discovery Institute is cited in court cases (admittedly, the scornful laughter on the part of federal judges is only heard in their chambers - ).

Serious answer: they can't, because they need to forge Thomson Reuters points specifically.

Of course the Discovery Institute exists not to publish papers for careerist reasons but to promote a very specific and political ideology. Considering the way the PRC reacts to groups like this would suggest that a chinese version of this would soon be giving away free newspapers in chinatowns and chaining themselves to bikeracks in front of Chinese consulates.

There are plenty of essentially bogus journals like what you describe, and I can even think of several that are like what you describe. But the Discovery Institute is a delusional cargo cult and not a proper careerist scheme.

Most people probably think medical texts are produced in America. Most are put together in the Philippines. I would imagine China and India have gotten in on the racket too. The creation of the images is labor intensive so it was farmed out to low wage areas a long time ago. The layout and the proofing of the text is done there. Then the printing is done and the books shipped to the West. It is hardly a shock that the Chinese would find a way to pirate this, once it was available to them.

Hey, don't leave us hanging ... were the fake academic articles any worse than real ones?

Among East Asians cheating is the way of life. A few weeks back, the Louvre found out Chinese were counterfeiting museum tickets.

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