Academic Ethics? What Are Those?

Pharm giant Merck came up with a novel way of advertising their drugs: they made up a phony peer-review Journal. And guess who published it for them? Every academic’s favorite publishing behemoth, Elsevier!*

It’s a safe guess that somewhere at Merck today someone is going through the meeting minutes of the day that the hair-brained scheme for the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine was launched, and that everyone who was in the room is now going to be fired.

The Scientist has reported that, yes, it’s true, Merck cooked up a phony, but real sounding, peer reviewed journal and published favorably looking data for its products in them. Merck paid Elsevier to publish such a tome, which neither appears in MEDLINE or has a website, according to The Scientist.

What’s really ironic is that the reason (or I should say, the excuse) that Elsievier gives to libraries for gouging them so badly for subscription fees is that we’re paying for quality. That the Elsieveir name means you’re getting authoritative, peer-reviewed information that is beyond reproach. At least, when it isn’t shoveling shit advertising and tryng to pass it off as research.

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* google: elsevier+price+gouging. Fun!