There are several research advertising companies that spam scholarly researchers, companies often confused with predatory publishers. The spam emails aim to get researchers to pay to showcase their work on the firms’ websites and in their glossy magazines.
While the firms’ activity may not be illegal (except for the spamming in some jurisdictions), their services are typically very expensive and certainly not needed by most researchers.
Here, I’d like to briefly describe the three that appear to spam most frequently:
The Atlas of Science is not transparent about where it is based, except to say that its run by a company called AoS Nordic AB. Its internet domain name data is blinded, but Google searches point to a base in Sweden.
It’s not an atlas at all, but a company that sends out unsigned spam emails soliciting 600-word research summaries that — for a fee — it will then publish on its website. The intended audience for Atlas of Science is the general public, not other researchers or funders, as with the other two firms described here.
I’ve appended one of the firm’s spam emails below. The spammers ask that the summaries be written for “someone at an average IQ,” fitting, perhaps, for Sweden.
Science Diffusion is the company that publishes Scientia, a glossy magazine / website that many at first think is a predatory journal. It’s not a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal. Instead, it’s an aggregation of paid advertisements for research and researchers — scientific puffery.
Here’s a short selection from one of their clever and manipulative spam emails:
Dear Dr. Smith,
I hope you do not mind me emailing you directly, I thought it would be the easiest way to make first contact. If you have time for a short discussion I was hoping to speak with you about your research and our interest to feature your work in an upcoming issue of our publication, Scientia.
I will run you through this in more detail when we talk. But to give you a very quick insight into Scientia and the style in which we produce I have attached a few example articles from research groups we have recently worked with. I have attached these as HTML files to reduce the file size, but I can send PDF versions if you would prefer.
Science Diffusion is apparently based in the U.K.
There’s also a threatening one called Pan European Networks that leads people to believe it’s associated with the EU.
The blog Carbon Copy & Nitride has an excellent critical analysis of this questionable firm that’s worth reading. According to the blog, “Mr Daniel Bott, Executive Director at Pan European Networks Ltd, Cheshire, UK has threatened legal action.” The threat is directed at the blog’s author.
A related service is Research Media. It used to employ the same aggressive and high-pressure spam and sales tactics as the services described above, but then in 2013 it was sold to Emerald Group Publishing. I have no evidence the firm has used spam email since its sale to Emerald.
Another blog post on this topic, written by Andrew Jaffe, is worth reading.
If you haven’t already, you will probably receive a spam email from a company that wants you to pay to advertise your research on their website or in a magazine they publish. These are not predatory journals because they’re not scientific journals.
Instead, they serve to showcase research for hefty fees. Few researchers will benefit from such services, and using them may make the customer appear desperate for recognition.
Appendix: Spam email from the Atlas of Science:
Da: Atlas of Science [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Inviato: venerdì 2 settembre 2016
Oggetto: Create attention for your article; write a layman’s summary
Dear Dr [Redacted],
We are interested to publish the layman’s summary of your research article: ‘[Redacted]’ on our website.
The new project ‘Atlas of Science’ (www.atlasofscience.org) started from 1st October 2015. It is made by scientists for scientists and the aim of the project will be publishing layman’s abstracts of research articles to highlight research to a broader audience.
Scientific articles are often difficult to fathom for journalists, due to the scientific jargon.
Although journalists like to assess the news value quickly, that is by no means simple with most research articles. Writing a short, understandable layman’s summary is a good means to reach this goal.
Why is press attention important?
Reaching the press is of great importance for yourself as well as for others.
∙ Through media exposure you attract the attention of potential employers, financiers and other people who may benefit you.
∙ It is an extra reward for your work. It is fun for yourself as well as for family and friends to read in newspapers what you have realized.
What should your layman’s summary look like?
Your text should be understandable for a layman. The more accessible your text is, the bigger the chance of media attention. The text (600 words at most) should be in English. Figures are allowed (2 figures at most).
The illustrations (figures/images/graphs) can add attraction to article. If there is any possibility we will recommend you to supplement your submission with illustration (although this is optional and will not affect the publication)
Title should be short and catchy.
Some other tips:
Ask the questions:
- How would I explain my thesis in a couple of minutes to:
- Someone at an average IQ;
- To my grandmother (provided she is not a nuclear physicist or the equivalent in your
- discipline!); or
- To a reporter for a mainstream publication.
- What difference will or could your research make to the world?
Remember that you are preparing this for a general audience. Keep the language as simple and jargon‐free as possible.
∙ Submit your summary within 2 months directly from this page www.atlasofscience.org/submit-your-laymans-summary/
What do we do with your layman’s summary?
∙ We check the text, and in consultation with you we dot the i’s and cross the t’s.
∙ Your text will be available on the Atlas of Science website, www.atlasofscience.org .
We will actively promote this site to the press.
Please, let us know if you are interested and do not hesitate to contact us if you have any question (simply reply to this email).
— Thank you,
Atlas of Science