Enes Hajdarbegovic and Deepak Balak: Science, spam, and scam

Enes-Hajdarbegovic_2Deepak-Balak_2Hi there! Are you interested in making easy money? Go into scientific publishing with this easy three step programme:

The first step is to get yourself a website. Get some server space from any of the super cheap providers and get your HTML magic going. Create a biomedical journal with a name that sounds a lot like an existing top journal. Make sure to include words such as experimental or clinical or reviews. Finally, furnish the website so that it resembles that journal.

The second step is to find willing customers. Don’t worry, plenty of those! Universities are filled with desperate PhD candidates and young researchers who are working under constant pressure and who are pushed to publish at an increasingly rapid rate. Most of them have been rejected by “real” journals multiple times and they often have that one manuscript lying around which seems impossible to publish.

How to contact these researchers? That is the easy part, their names and email addresses are up for grabs in any of the major databases. Try PubMed, Embase, Google Scholar etc. Build a bot to fetch the name, email address, and the title of one of their articles that has been published for a change.

Next, you need to contact the potential client. Send an email inviting them to publish their work with you. Explain how you found their last article very interesting and that it completely fits the scope of a special edition of your journal. You cordially invite the client to submit to your journal. You offer very rapid peer review—the article is to be published within several weeks. But there is a deadline. And, of course, there are “article processing charges.”

After completing the three steps you relax and sit back, like a spider waiting for a fly to get tangled in your web. Let the statistics do the work for you. One of the thousands of emails will be replied to eventually.

There is one catch: Please double check your email before sending it out. (See example below.)


Enes Hajdarbegovic and Deepak Balak are both dermatology PhD candidates based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. They receive 30 emails on average per week inviting them to submit a manuscript.

Competing interests: None declared.