“Rick and Morty” Sting Predatory Journals

By Neuroskeptic | September 29, 2018 7:48 am

Last year I wrote and published a fake ‘scientific paper’ to highlight the problem of predatory scientific journals. My article, following in the tradition of earlier fake journal ‘stings’, was complete nonsense, full of Star Wars references and quotes, but it was published by a number of dodgy journals.

Now, another sci-fi sting has taken place, based this time on Rick and Morty. The stinger, Farooq Ali Khan, created a hilarious paper called Newer Tools to Fight Inter-Galactic Parasites and their Transmissibility in Zygirion Simulation.

The paper, reporting experiments on the treatment of space parasites, was published in three supposedly peer-reviewed journals. You can find it at ARC Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, IOSR Journal of Pharmacy and Biological Sciences, and Clinical Biotechnology and Microbiology (the latter seem to have now deleted it, but Google caches show it did appear there.)

morty_sting“Newer Tools to Fight Inter-Galactic Parasites” is full of Rick and Morty memes: the title is a reference to perhaps my favorite episode of the show; Zygirions are intergalactic scammers from another episode; first author Beth Smith is the daughter of the main character Rick Sanchez, who presumably founded the Sanchez Institute for Doopidoo Research. And that’s just the author list!

As well as Rick and Morty memes, there are a few bonus references thrown in including one of Black Panther. The paper really is a lot of fun. Even the figures, which I assume are repurposed from real data, have something for fans of the show:


So what does this sting mean? As I said after my sting appeared, the point is not that ‘science is fake news’ or that all, or most, scientific journals are like this. These stings are meant to highlight the problem of journals that will publish anything while claiming to be peer-reviewed. A journal that claims to carry out peer review but doesn’t is nothing less than a scam.

The existence of predatory journals is well known, but unfortunately these kinds of outfits continue to thrive, suggesting that the problem is not known widely enough. If even one scientist is saved from paying their money (or public money) to the kind of journal that would publish a Rick and Morty paper, I would say the sting has been a success.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: FixingScience, funny, papers, select, Top Posts
  • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/EquivPrinFail.pdf Uncle Al

    Were you assigned a DOI? One can imagine what digital object was identified.

  • disqus_fblVVmuh1T

    Love the R&M paper! It should be implemented somehow into cartoon’s storyline, don’t you think?

    Lately ‘predatory conference’ approched me from the private profile on facebook and ask for a participation (“By considering your research interest and expertise, It’s our privilege to invite you to the conference as a Session Speaker/Delegate. (…) We need your support.”). The ‘invitation’ was based solely on the FB pages I liked. It’s becoming scary.

  • JClements

    Is that Mr. Beauregard as the third author? Hahaha this is amazing.

  • Anu

    This paper’s going to need at least…3 Jan Michael Vincents to make any sense.

  • http://www.rossmounce.co.uk Ross Mounce

    There are lots of dodgy websites out there claiming to be academic journals, or simply claiming to help you “get rich quick”. They are a scam. Legitimate open access academic journals are listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). None of the journals that “published” this Rick & Morty paper are listed in DOAJ so I’m not sure what has been proven here. Scammy websites will take your money to put up a webpage purporting to be a peer reviewed research article *shrugs*

  • Pingback: Elsewhere for October 6, 2018 -()

  • Alla Yankouskaya

    This is more likely one of those studies designed to show that totally ridiculous papers can get published



No brain. No gain.

About Neuroskeptic

Neuroskeptic is a British neuroscientist who takes a skeptical look at his own field, and beyond. His blog offers a look at the latest developments in neuroscience, psychiatry and psychology through a critical lens.


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