Cold Calls with Warm Wishes...

We know the spiel. Active scientists get academic spam on a daily basis. Once you published your first paper in neuroscience, you get invitations as a keynote speaker at fake dermatology conferences, or to publish in the International Journal of 100% Legitimate Science.

Remarkably, academic spammers share a taste for odd salutations. Go to a (legitimate) scientific conference and yell 'Greetings for the day' or 'Warm wishes to you' and you'll see flinching academics, triggered by the thought of the neverending pile of poop in their inboxes.

So, it was March 3, 2019, the sun was shining and I received an e-mail from the eminent Journal of Medicine & Biological Studies (JMBS), run by annex publishers:

The 'paper'

Given I urgently needed to procrastinate some grant writing, I passed the request on to my alias 'Benedict de Haas'. Which was fitting, given his credentials as 'Dean of Pomology and Lobomatics' at 'George Saunders Private University Giessen'.

Thanks to Benedict's superior intellectual abilities (and SCigen), he managed to thrash out this masterpiece within a day:

...and so on and on and on....

I hope your brain is hurting. Let's have a look at the figures...

Figure 1

Figure 5

Note the axes labels!

...or references. Benedict's true ambitions show in citations and collaborations:

In short, SCIgen (anno 2005) still works like a treat. Which made me - and JMBS - feel thankful:

Even fake reviews are slow

After that I heard - nothing. For weeks. At first I thought they actually looked at the 'manuscript' and concluded I'm taking the p/ss. Then I forgot about the whole thing.

BUT! All it takes is time. Even fake reviews are slow - and full of tediuos homework. On May 24 (after almost three months) I received my R&R

It turned out the 'review' was on point:

I particularly agree with the following:

So JMBS expected some thorough rework. And just like a real journal they felt a bit impatient about it. The reminders started after one week...

...and sounded increasingly desparate:

The revision

Being the gentle soul he is, Benedict decided to not argue with the good people from annex publishers and simply resubmit the exact same pdf as the original as 'revised' version.


Predictably, the JMBS editors were overjoyed. The good news arrived the following day:

Complete with proofs in journal layout

Congratulations indeed!

And now the fun part began...

The haggle

I soon learnt that quality has its price.

On the other hand, Benedict felt his side of the transaction was somewhat underrated. Surely, the superior quality of the manuscript would warrant a waiver.

Or would it?

This called for the nuclear option:

which proved surprisingly effective:

but still didn't go all the way:

sadly, I never heard from them again...