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Inside Annoyed Librarian

In Which I am Preyed Upon, Sort of

It’s not obvious from the outside, but this blog gets lots of spam comments, sometimes thousands per week. The email account is a little better since Gmail is pretty good about identifying spam without being trained, but stuff still slips through.

It’s usually pretty easy to spot spam comments. The names are unusual, the email addresses are unrelated to the names, the comments are vague and usually ungrammatical, and there’s always a link to some dubious site that, if clicked on, would probably require giving my laptop a hot bath afterwards.

In a recent email, someone with the unlikely name of “Gunda Breck,” using an email address Gmail recognizes as belonging to someone who seems to be a quack doctor of some kind peddling junk on the Internet, claims that “Several of [my] library visitors have requested” the self-published novels of yet a third person, all of whom are probably the same sad spammer.

I’m also commanded to “Please obtain these books for [my] library promptly. The “publishing” company listed in the email doesn’t match the book advertised, but it does match a book printing company with no website. Amatuer hour all round.

But the best spam I’ve ever received came recently: an email from what looks to be a fake journal. Those aren’t terribly uncommon for lots of librarians, but this one wasn’t trying to get submissions it could then charge for. It was asking the Annoyed Librarian to review an article.

Journals like these sometimes called “predatory,” and my inbox certainly felt violated.

It opens:

Dear Colleague,

A manuscript titled ‘A Study on present scenario of academic libraries resources and its systems and services in Universities of East and North-East India’ was received by us for publication in the World Journal of Library and Information Science. We will be highly grateful if you could find time to evaluate the manuscript and send your comments back to us as soon as possible. The manuscript, reviewers guide as well as the comment form is hereby attached.

This makes some sense. Since the Library Journal outsourced all of its writing to a small company in Guwahati, Assam four years ago, the people who provide all of the actual text for LJ are familiar with Northeast India, or at least Guwahati, Assam.

As we all drink home-grown tea by the banks of the Brahmaputra River contemplating what text will go under the name of our well known staff writers, columnists, and bloggers, one of our main concerns is the academic library resources of places such as the Srimanta Sankaradeva University of Health Sciences.

Nevertheless, a publisher with an inactive Twitter account inviting a pseudonymous blogger to review a scholarly article for a journal that currently has no articles and no editorial board is, if not predatory or fake, certainly suspicious.

It’s also curious to find this claim on the website of the “journal”: “World Journal of Library and Information Science…operates a double-blind reviewing policy in which the anonymity of authors to reviewers and reviewers to authors will be ensured so as to make the review process fair and just.”

Whu curious? Seems like normal operating procedure for a scholarly journal. It’s because the email trying to get me, the Annoyed Librarian, to review this article tries to sell me on the benefits of reviewing, which everyone who has ever reviewed knows are nonexistent:

“Benefits:

  •       20%-50% discounts will be granted for papers that you submit to us and papers which are recommended by you from your friends and colleagues.
  •       Improving your own scholarly writing ability
  •       Acquiring knowledge on the latest innovations in qualitative inquiry
  •       Reviewers’ attestation will be forwarded to you upon request
  •       Reviewers’ name will be included in the acknowledgement section of manuscript if accepted and published”

A discount should I ever want to publish in this august publication on my own account? Nice! I’ll be sure to take them up on that offer if someone else wants to pay a fee. Improving my scholarly writing ability? Unlikely. “Acquiring knowledge on the latest innovations in qualitative inquiry”? Almost certainly not.

But notice the last one: “Reviewers’ name will be included in the acknowledgement section of manuscript if accepted and published.” It’s hard to have a double-blind review guaranteeing the anonymity of the reviewer if everyone, including the author, will eventually know who I am.

That’s the only reason I didn’t go ahead and review the article, because otherwise this looks like a top notch publication.

No, I’m kidding. I reviewed the article and advised “revise and resubmit,” which I’ll continue to do as long as the publishers keep sending it to me. Which they probably won’t, since then they’ll never get their fee.

Randomly spamming people to contribute to journals like this makes some sort of sense. Randomly spamming people to review for them is a new tactic that doesn’t seem like it’ll be very successful. But what do I know. I’m not a clever publisher like these folks.

 

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Comments

  1. Jeldi, jeldi!

  2. Sunflower09 says:

    Glad to see I’m not the only one who gets those spams XD

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