An article about midchlorians from Star Wars has been published by three science journals.
An anonymous columnist under the nickname Neuroisceptic (perhaps a group of authors is behind this name) leads a column for the American popular science magazine Discover. His favorite pastime is to read the sensational article on neurobiology and tell what the journalists of other publications misunderstood in it or to point out the shortcomings of the methodology to the authors of the work. In his last column, Neurosceptic talked about how he checked American scientific journals for integrity - and was disappointed.
Neurosceptic (or one of the people behind this username) wrote an article about the biology of midichlorians - particles that flow in the blood of a Jedi and allow you to feel the power. The article, according to the author, consisted of “a crazy mixture of plagiarism, factual errors and quotes from films.” Signed by the names of Dr. Lucas McGeorge and Dr. Annette Keen, the article went to the editorial office of nine scientific journals.
Out of nine, four responded. American Journal of Medical and Biological Research accepted the article and requested $ 360 for publication; three other journals, the International Journal of Molecular Biology: Open Access, the Austin Journal of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, and the American Research Journal of Biosciences accepted and published the article for free, although they usually charge a fee from the authors.
A minimal acquaintance with the film universe of Star Wars, not to mention general biology, would be enough to recognize a fake in a couple of minutes. The article, for example, stated that “In addition to generating energy in a cell, midi-chlorians perform functions such as recognition of Strength ...”, “... ATP production in the Krebbs cycle, also known as the Kayloren cycle (in honor of the discoverer), ” “midi-chlorians are microscopic life forms that live in all living cells - without them, life could not exist and we would not know anything about the Force. Disruptions in the normal functioning of midi-chlorians often manifest as brain diseases such as autism. ”
As the author admits, he doesn’t even love the saga of a distant, distant galaxy, but he loves memes. He copied the text of the article from the Wikipedia article about mitochondria, which, unlike midichlorians, really exist and produce ATP (the main source of energy in a living system). AutoCorrect replaced mitochondria with midichlorians, and then a special program replaced most of the words with synonyms - because the author’s task was not to check how reviewers fight plagiarism, but to publish a deliberately absurd article. Replacing words with synonyms is called rojing; the result is usually nonsense, although the meanings of individual words with those that replace them are very close. The author admitted everything on the pages of the article itself and apologized to the authors of the Wikipedia text.
Reviewers of magazines that rejected the article clearly enjoyed reading — they, for example, recommended that articles written by Lucas and Palpatine be included in the list of sources used. Those who did not understand the jokes advised renaming the midichlorians back to mitochondria. And one magazine even offered Dr. Lucas McGeorge a job.
Talking about his scam in a column, Neurosceptic recalls: not every journal that claims to be peer-reviewed does indeed submit articles for peer review to independent experts.
Similar experiments were carried out more than once; absurd articles are indeed accepted and published in peer-reviewed journals. In Russia, such an experiment was undertaken by the team of the Troitsky Variant newspaper in Russia: they took an artificially generated science-like text, translated it into Russian, and published it under the name Rooter: An Algorithm for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy in the VAK journal and doctoral students. "Do you like the article?
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