(Translation of the post “Apertem os cintos, o editor sumiu!”, March 21, 2015. The title is a reference to the American satirical disaster comedy film “Airplane!”, which in Brazil was titled “Fasten your seat belts… The pilot is gone!”)
By MAURÍCIO TUFFANI
The Sino-Singaporean IJET (International Journal of Engineering and Technology) has no editor-in-chief since this week. The news adds another chapter to the oddities of the history of this journal and its consequences in Brazil.
The first embarrassments were two weeks ago to CAPES (Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel), of the Ministry of Education, and then, UNICAMP (University of Campinas).
On March 6 this blog had already revealed that the then editor-in-chief of IJET, the Pakistani engineer Abdul Razaque, is not a professor at the University of Bridgeport in the United States, as he claimed to be from the journal website registered with a Singapore ISSN code.
The very board of directors of its publisher, IACSIT (International Academy of Computer Science and Information Technology), based in China, said they were “shocked” by the false qualification but they could not immediately remove Razaque in order not to harm the journal.
Back to the future
Another news evokes one more movie title in this post, thanks to the oddities of IJET and IACSIT. Besides the removal of the name of the editor-in-chief, the image above, in the items “Frequency” on general information about the journal, shows another aspect much more curious.
The IJET was bimonthly until the end of this year. Since the beginning of next year, January 2016, the intrepid publication became monthly. No, it was not a mistake made by the IT personnel, whom since the start of the computer age occupy in organizations the guilt’s role attributed to the butler in suspense stories. Without the necessity of wormholes connecting black holes in distant regions of the universe, this time travel really happened, as shown by the record of this journal’s editions.
This virtual trip to the future allows IJET and IACSIT to bypass an essential factor to the financial world, which is the Time – Chronos for the Greeks and Saturn for the Romans, the most ruthless of all the gods.
In addition of not being able to take advantage of what was not produced in the past, a farmer can not, in the present, harvest the crop of the following year, the same way as an industry can not produce in advance what is beyond its operating capacity.
But the IJET can publish papers in the future. This is what was done with at least 31 papers presented at the 3rd International Conference of Civil Engineering and Architecture (ICCEA 2014), organized by IACSIT in partnership with UNICAMP. Its authors paid attendance fee of about $ 300 USD. Participants who did not presented works paid a lower fee.
In the period from July to August 2014 these works were inserted with at least one year in advance in online editions dated to June, August, October and December 2015.
These papers are not anticipated drafts versions, usual in some prestigious journals. They are in final format, already with numbered pages, allowing them to be referenced in curricula. And with no mention of the UNICAMP event.
In addition to not being presented in a specific edition, properly characterized as annals of 3rd ICCEA, these works have the format of journal articles. In the evaluations of curricula for contests, promotions, scholarships and grants for research projects, studies accepted by scientific journals count more than studies presented at conferences.
Among the papers presented to the Congress, 19 were recorded for at least 30 of its co-authors as “Full papers published in journals” or “Articles accepted for publication”, as shown by Folha de S. Paulo with my report “Scientists ‘embellish’ papers presented at UNICAMP event“ (Thursday, Mar/19/2015).
Even being already since 2012 in the list of “predatory publishers“ of “Scholarly Open Access” blog, the IACSIT had three of its journals classified in the triennial assessment completed in 2013 by CAPES, through its Qualis Periódicos program, which serves to guide researchers, Brazilian professors and graduate students to choose scientific journals to publish their articles.
The list of “predatory publishers” was not enough to serve at least as a warning against it, the IACSIT is also since 2012 on bulletin of various websites abroad for irregularities in organizing events. Nevertheless the UNICAMP accepted a partnership with the publisher for the third annual edition of its conference.
Besides not informing how much was spent with the event, and without giving reasons on the basis of its own procedures for the embarrassing partnership with IACSIT and IJET, UNICAMP, in the first official note to the aforementioned report, used a deplorable argumentative strategy. The response was basically in two acts.
First, the note disqualified —with translation error— the academic librarian Jeffrey Beall, responsible for the blog “Scholarly Open Access” and his “predatory publishers” list. And then CAPES was thrown under the bus by the inclusion of IJET in Qualis Periódicos. Follows the clumsy attempt.
“As for the quality of the journal associated with the event, the International Journal of Engineering and Technology (IJET), the FEC board of directors does not consider that an academic librarian at the University of Colorado in Denver, with only two years in the professor career, as specified in his own blog, has more competence to rank journals than peer review, traditionally recognized in the scientific world, which in the case was made by professors who advise CAPES, which in turn classifies the journal as B3 in the Qualis system”. (The bold is by this blog).
There is a serious translation error in this note of UNICAMP, which is one of the best universities in Brazil and the world, as shown by several international rankings —including the exclusive Times Higher Education, where together with USP (University of Sao Paulo) are the only ranked Brazilian universities. To introduce himself on the “About the Author“ from his blog, Jeffrey Beall writes:
“In 2012, I was awarded tenure and promoted to Associate Professor”.
“I was awarded tenure” means “I got stability of employment”. Moreover, as shown by his curriculum, unlike what the note says, since 2005 Beall was “Assistant Professor”. In 2012 he was promoted to “Associate Professor” degree in the US academic hierarchy below only the “Distinguished Professor” or “Full Professor” (Professor Titular in Brazil).
Even UNICAMP had not committed this primary translation error, when trying to disqualify Beall, the university used the argument ploy that is known in logic as Argumentum Ad Hominem fallacy. It can be defined as follows:
“It is committed when instead of trying to disprove the truth of what is asserted one attacks the man who made the assertion. Thus it may be argued that Bacon’s philosophy is untrustworthy because he was removed form his chancellorship for dishonesty. This argument is fallacious, because the personal character of a man is logically irrelevant to the truth or falsehood of what he says or the correctness or incorrectness of his argument.”
(Irving M. Copi, “Introduction to Logic”, New York: MacMillan, 1972, pages 74-75).
This does not mean that the Beall’s evaluation about “predatory publishers” and its journals should be considered as the final word. But it is absurd to a university, a research institute or development agency not to consider it as a starting point for a case by case assessment. That’s the point.
In the case of UNICAMP, the note completely disregarded other warnings on the Internet presented by the report, including the disqualification in 2012 of events of the publisher by the prestigious IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), founded in 1884 in the US.
In an attempt to cool down the buck thrown by UNICAMP, CAPES replied that every new assessment of the Brazilian graduate programs and journals ranked in Qualis — that from triennial it will be quadrennial— “the procedures are updated, modified and improved depending on the learning of each process”.
Another answer, so silent and evasive as this had already been given to my report “Slot machines scientific events worries Brazilian scientists” (Folha de S. Paulo, Mar/3/2015), without explaining how “predatory journals” were not barred by about 2000 experts from 48 advisory committees of CAPES. The agency added nothing when I published the post “Brazilian graduate programs accept 201 ‘predatory’ journals“ (Mar/9/2015).
As well as CAPES, which gave UNICAMP financial aid of $ 5.500 USD for the 3rd ICCEA, CNPq (National Council for Scientific and Technological Development) awarded $ 3,000 USD for the event’s organization. The two federal agencies admitted that they had no derogatory information about IACSIT, which is available on the internet at least since 2012.
Science with borders
The total cost to the taxpayer of this sad episode is still unknown due to the lack of transparency of UNICAMP. It involved hundreds of analysts, consultants and professors of a college of a university of very high academic prestige and two federal agencies of the science and research area.
And it seems that no one was able to do a simple search on the internet that would have shown several warnings.
This participation of researchers and institutions from Brazil in a “postdated predatory” journal is a further proof of the ridiculous government’s rhetoric on the internationalization of Brazilian science.