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Misconduct in science: the Panama Papers and more, much more…
  1. C Niek van Dijk
  1. Correspondence to C Niek van Dijk, Orthopaedic Department, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; C.N.vanDijk{at}

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It used to be a standing joke in Italian universities that to become a full professor, you needed 1.5 kilos. That’s to say, you needed to publish that much. Never mind the quality, just go for quantity… The joke was about the Humanities and later the Social Sciences. But could this corruption extend to proper sciences—and to medicine?

It already has…

In my mailbox this morning, there was an invitation to publish about coccydynia in the ‘Journal of Musculoskeletal Disorders’; an invitation to editorialise for a ‘special edition’ of ‘Aesthetic Surgery’; similar requests from the ‘Journal of Comorbidity’ and ‘The Journal of General Medicine’; another brought greetings from the ‘Journal of Orthopaedic Research & Physiotherapy’, along with an invitation to speak at ‘Surgery Conference 2018’, another to speak at Surgery & Anaesthesia and another for the Sixth World Summit on Nursing & Health.

We all get these invitations from phony congresses and phony journals. We are all used to messages like: ‘Annie Foster invites on behalf of “Medical Case Reports”’, which ‘accepts papers in all fields of the Medical Sciences’.

Sometimes they are computer-generated and do not even mention which journal they are touting for: ‘We gladly invite you to submit your manuscript for the upcoming issue of the Journal. For this issue you are welcome to submit in all aspects of medical sciences’.

And so it goes, day after day. By 2016, researchers were already getting 2.1 spam emails every day inviting us to publish in phony journals and attend phony conferences.1

Last week, the ‘20th International Conference on Sports-medicine and Research’ was held in Amsterdam.2 This ‘conference’ was widely advertised but under many different names. There were 16 speakers from India, …

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