In this week's Chemical and Engineering News, this fascinating story (article by Dalmeet Singh Chawla):
Earlier this year, Michael Fischer peer-reviewed a study for a journal, and the publication’s editor copied him on the decision letter and the reviewer reports. Then he came across something odd.
Fischer, a geoscientist at the University of Bremen, noticed that the referee report of another peer reviewer included a long list of suggested citations. Most of the recommended citations were for articles published by a single journal, Experimental and Theoretical Nanotechnology (ET Nano), whose website says it is published by the Arab Science and Technology Foundation.
Fischer had never heard of ET Nano and decided to check it out. “I was expecting it to basically be some kind of predatory journal” trying to unethically boost its reputation through unwarranted citations, he says.
But when Fischer began to look at ET Nano’s published papers, he was surprised to find that they were authored by prominent and well-known researchers from across the world. He found this strange, given the journal’s relative obscurity. In addition, some researchers weren’t at the universities the journal said they were....
...After seeing papers authored by some legitimate and some nonexistent researchers, Fischer decided to reach out to authors he knew to be real. Most of the academics who responded told him the papers listing them as authors were not theirs and that they had never heard of ET Nano. Many of the researchers were also listed as members of its editorial advisory board.
“The papers didn’t seem to match their research profile at all,” Fischer says. “Also, they were often not well written or contained really low-quality figures, which were of very poor resolution.”
I don't really understand what paper mills really do (other than shovel loads of low-quality papers onto the internet.) It seems to me these journals seem to exist solely to collect publication fees from scholars from developing countries whose insitutions really care about publication count? What a strange world we live in.