Scientific publishing is a tough business. But it can also be a lucrative one, which is why even the esteemed pages of science journals may not always be above the fray. While many legitimate publications dutifully peer-review and edit the work they receive, pirates abound. These so-called predatory journals focus more on the money than the science, and for a researcher desperate to publish, a few hundred dollars and an easy peer-review process might seem too good to pass up.
The controversy has gained increasing attention over the past few years, thanks in large part to sneaky scientists like “BioTrekkie,” also known, to a few journals at least, as Lewis Zimmerman. The anonymous biologist is a pretty big Star Trek fan (if you couldn’t tell from the pseudonym), and he decided to test out whether some of the most notorious predatory journals were as well. The paper he submitted described an “experiment” that would be familiar to anyone who has seen Star Trek: Voyager Episode 32, “Threshold,” in which Lt. Thomas Paris makes an effort to finally break warp 10 speed.