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Brainiac

On Second Thought: Authorship for sale

Teenagers at a computer workshop writing code and learning to programme Raspberry Pi simple single-board computer (Photo by: Photofusion/UIG via Getty Images)
UIG via Getty Images
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Want to add a bit of science to your resume? Some unethical publishers are willing to sell authorship on the articles they print. The revelation is the result of a sting by Pravin Bolshete, a medical writer in India. Bolshete wanted to see just how far so-called “predatory” publishers would go, so he sent letters to more than 300 houses and journals saying that he needed papers to get promoted but was too busy to do the writing himself. In all, 16 percent of the outlets said they could add Bolshete’s name to a paper. Some journals said that they had articles already written, and all he needed to do to become a co-author was send money to cover publishing fees. Another wrote: “On the other hand, we could request some authors to add your name as a co-author in their research and you just have to pay the publication fee” — of $300 for two papers. At that rate, getting a tenure letter would be a snap, but worth less than the paper it’s printed on.