"Dr. Fraud" Sting Nabs Dozens of Phony Scientific Journals


Sometimes you just have to fight fire with fire. Scientist Anna O. Szust (“Anna, a Fraud” in Polish) convinced 48 journals to offer her a job despite her flimsy credentials—and the fact that she doesn’t exist. The real researchers behind the sting operation detailed their findings in the journal Nature.

Researchers who don’t publish their work risk losing tenure or funding, but slots in prestigious journals are incredibly competitive. This “publish or perish” mandate has thus fueled two big problems in academia: an emphasis on flashy, attention-grabbing findings; and an industry of predatory journals that take researchers’ money in exchange for the promise of publication.

A few years ago, a group of researchers in Poland became “increasingly disturbed” by the number of invitations they were getting to become editors at sketchy-sounding journals. “It became clear that the problem was huge,” they write, “yet had not been empirically examined.”

To get the lay of the predatory publishing landscape, the researchers invented a second-tier scientist with a fairly obvious fake name. Anna O. Szust had a variety of disparate scientific interests, fake university degrees, and had authored book chapters for publishers that don’t exist.

Even with all this fake fluff on her C.V., Dr. Fraud was still not qualified to edit a scientific journal—but that didn’t stop her from trying. The researchers wrote to 360 different publications—120 respected titles, 120 open-access, and 120 suspected predatory publishers—asking if they’d hire Dr. Fraud as an editor.

More than half of the journals didn't reply. Of those that did, all of the established journals turned her down. But eight open-access journals and 40 suspected phony journals appointed her an editor. Some were open about the fact that the position was meaningless; one journal responded, “It’s our pleasure to add your name as editor in chief for this journal with no responsibilities.” Another noted that Fraud’s cover letter said that she hoped to attain a degree she already claimed to have. But such a minor detail didn’t stop that journal from extending a job offer to her anyway.

Some of the journals “revealed themselves to be even more mercenary than we expected,” the authors wrote. They entreated Dr. Fraud to recruit more researchers who would pay to publish. Several offered her a cut of the profits.

After the experiment ended, the real researchers contacted the journals that had made job offers and told them all the truth. Six publications denied having ever accepted Dr. Fraud in the first place. One threatened legal action. At least 11 of the predatory titles are still using her name on their websites. Fraud even found herself listed as the editor in chief of a publication the researchers had never contacted.

“It is difficult to predict the future editorial career of Anna O. Szust,” the authors write, but “this rise of predatory journals threatens the quality of scholarship.”

PRNewsfoto/Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
World's First Underwater Residence to Open in the Maldives
PRNewsfoto/Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
PRNewsfoto/Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

If you’ve ever wanted to live out your childhood dream of sleeping under the sea, here’s your chance. The Maldives is already home to several underwater restaurants, an underwater spa, and underwater guest rooms, but now it's getting its first fully submerged villa.

Dubbed “The Muraka,” or coral in the Maldivian language of Dhivehi, this exclusive residence will be located at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island resort, and is slated to open this November. The tropical nation, famed for its marine life and coral reefs, is a popular luxury honeymoon destination.

While other Maldivian resorts offer underwater bedrooms, those look out onto man-made aquariums, according to Architectural Digest. What sets the Conrad’s resort apart is that it sits on the ocean floor, 16.4 feet underwater. It’s located in the Alifu Dhaalu Atoll, one of 26 natural atolls in the Maldives, known for being one of the best places to view whale sharks. The Muraka, which can accommodate up to nine guests, has two levels—one above water, and one below—and includes a powder room, gym, kitchen, bar, living room, dining area, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, butler’s quarters, and private security quarters.

So how much will all that go for? When it opens, the starting rate is estimated to be $50,000 a night, according to Architectural Digest. The Conrad brand has an affinity for underwater spaces. It brought the first underwater restaurant, Ithaca, to the Maldives 13 years ago, and since then many other hotel chains have followed suit.

Dubai also started unveiling its “Floating Seahorse” underwater villas in 2016, but not all of those are available yet, Condé Nast Traveler reports.

See below for more photos of the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island.

[h/t Architectural Digest]

After Four Months, a Frank Lloyd Wright House in Glencoe, Illinois Goes Back on the Market

Most architecture nerds would be thrilled to live in an original Frank Lloyd Wright house, and occasionally, they get their chance—as long as they’re willing to pay a few million dollars. As of late 2017, there were Frank Lloyd Wright homes for sale in New York, Minnesota, Ohio, Connecticut, and elsewhere for $1 million dollars or more (in some cases, way more). Sometimes, you can find a deal, though, like the $445,000 Usonian home that went on the market in Michigan in 2016.

Sadly, as Curbed reports, a newly for-sale Wright house in Glencoe, Illinois is not such a deal anymore. Only three months after its $752,000 sale, the 1914 Kier House in suburban Chicago has been renovated and is back on the market for $837,500.

Many Wright homes need a little love after decades of use. For one thing, the architect is somewhat notorious for building leaky roofs. Their small kitchens and shag carpeting are no longer quite so desirable, either.

But for many buyers and architects, restoring a Wright home is a labor of love, one that often takes several years and aims to respect the original designer’s genius while bringing the house up to modern standards. (For some of the historic homes, permanent easements also prohibit most exterior alterations, further limiting what a remodel can involve.)

The Prairie School-style house, though it has Honorary Landmark status, isn’t entirely original to Wright. It has a more modern kitchen, a new family room, and updated bathrooms (with a steam shower!). Previous owner Susan Cowen, who owned the house for a number of years and spent an undisclosed amount on refurbishing it, sold the residence in January to a pair of documentary filmmakers, according to Patch. The sale, which included a significant price drop, only took a few months. They, in turn, made a number of improvements. The owners fixed up the chimneys, boiler, and furnace, added a limestone bar separating the kitchen and dining room, and raised part of the ceiling above the stairs.

Now, four months later, it’s on sale again, and, thanks to the upgrades, a little pricier. The latest sellers may find, though, that not every Wright sale goes as quickly as their purchase. The architect’s homes are highly prized, but also known to be very difficult to sell, sometimes languishing on the market for years before finding a buyer.

[h/t Curbed]


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