The Association for Scientific and Engineering is a Chinese article broker. It arranges for its clients’ manuscripts to be published as scholarly articles in indexed journals. It’s one of many such companies but stands out because it has an English website in addition to its Chinese homepage.
The name of the company is ungrammatical in English, and it’s not really an “association” either. On its website, it claims to be “an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of all people,” but this is a big lie. It’s an unethical firm that preys on scholarly authors desperate to get their work published in indexed journals to advance their careers.
One of the questions in the firm’s FAQ reveals how it operates:
What’s the difference between your recommendation and author submission if final acceptance cannot be assured?
We established cooperation relationship with journals, so we have more information about the review time and standard. What’s more, we are experienced in assisting authors to prepare and revise papers quickly.
Article brokers function as go-betweens for authors and publishers. They cultivate relationships with publishers and editors. Here’s an example of a spam solicitation letter this article broker sends to journal publishers and editors:
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: LiLi <email@example.com>
Subject: Publishing Cooperation Proposal with [Redacted]
Dear [Publisher’s name redacted],
Thanks for your time on this email.
I am Grace Lee with Association for Scientific and Engineering (ASciE, http://www.a-scie.org/Index.aspx ). To meet authors’ diversified publishing requirements, we would like to recommend some quality papers to your journal for considering and publishing.
We will send you potential papers in batches, hoping you can pick out the papers suitable for your journal [Redacted] and give some tips about how to improve to meet journal requirements. Authors will then revise and submit the papers through online system.
Through the cooperation, authors can save much time in finding out proper journals. In reward, they would like to pay for your screening.
We are looking forward to your reply.
All the parties benefit, except one. The authors get published in an indexed journal and advance their careers. The article broker charges a fee and generates revenue. The editor receives payments from the article broker for his or her help in getting the papers published.
But because the editor or owner of the journal is getting under-the-table payments to facilitate the acceptance and publication of the articles, peer review suffers. There is an incentive to accept and publish as many papers as possible, regardless of their scientific soundness, to make more money.
The victims, of course, are the readers, the consumers of scholarly literature, which includes all researchers. Article brokers are constantly seeking cooperative editors, offering deals some cannot turn down.