Monday, June 20, 2011

Sad and Disgusting Department item

Well, we have previously posted on the utterly disgusting and to us immoral, or at least sad, advert scaring investigators into paying a grotesquely high price for a crib book on how to fill in NIH grant applications and (the company suggests but doesn't guarantee) raise your funding chances.  It is a sad commentary on the commercialization, gold-digging, fear-mongering, rat-raced nature of a lot of science today.  No grant, no tenure, self respect, or job!  It is sad in that we have fallen into such a state where we'd even be susceptible to such things.

Well, another sick come-on crossed our email transom today.  As before, we're sorry, but we won't grace it by giving you even a link.  This is a company of self-proclaimed 'experts' who will increase your chances of getting your paper published!  They'll give you simulated peer review, help with your English or writing, or provide other kinds of editing 'services'.  For several hundred, up to about a thousand! dollars they'll give you a review, editing, or even recommend a journal for you (you got a PhD but can't do these things?  Maybe you should contact the university that gave you the degree and ask why they did that if you weren't ready).  The price also depends on how many anxious days you're willing to wait for the lifesaver service to be returned to you.

As with grant review, any scientist who thinks that passing a paper by some reviewer(s)--paid or through the usual peer review system--protects them from the whims and chances of subsequent reviewers doesn't understand the system.   There is unpredictability and stochasticity involved.  But if your paper is so bad that the paid reviewers really trash it, you will likely be trashed by other reviewers.  So your work isn't yet ready for prime time, or is of the LPU nature (least publishable unit).  On the other hand, it may not be good for business for DesperateScientists, Inc. (not the scurvy company's real name) to really trash you....and charge you for it!  So they may be tempted to soft-pedal, to get another (paid) look at your work, or to see your next papers.  So even the service may not be such a service.

These exploitations are symptomatic of the way science has become populated by fearful drones, needing to grind out 'product' non-stop, endlessly striving, like trees in the tropical forest, to be noticed by the sun more than any other tree.

Too bad.  Even worse is that you can probably legally charge this service to your grant--that is, get the public to pay for your vulnerability, poor training, or ambitions.

Either we choose, as a culture, to be rats on a treadmill driven by our administrators, in a university imitation of capitalism rather than sticking to a non-profit, educational mission, or we jointly work to change the system and back off, making it more civil and savory as a way to earn a living.

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