The Rise of Science Spam

Neuroskeptic iconNeuroskepticBy NeuroskepticSep 28, 2012 3:54 AM


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I'm not sure if it's just me, but in the past few months I've been getting an inordinate amount of scientific spam.

This is at my real-world email address, under the name I publish my papers. I can only think that some nefarious hucksters are trawling scientific journals and harvesting contact details from the author lists. Either that, or a legitimate organization I've signed up to has shared their mailing list; but a robot seems more likely.

Whatever's going on, it's getting worse, at least for me. A few months ago, I got maybe one piece of sci-spam a week, which was tolerable. Now it's up to half a dozen or more per week and getting ridiculous. Here's what I've got just in the past 10 days.

Lab Products

These I can kind of see the point of: if you have a product to sell, you want to advertise it to people who might want to buy it. The problem is that as someone who scans brains, and last touched a pipette about 8 years ago, I really don't want to buy:

Two readouts for the price of one - Calcium and Arrestin. Select Any Gq-Coupled Calcium Cell Line and Save! Special Fall Savings!

Nor am I interested in:

Dear Colleague, Through your publications, we have noted that our Catalase antibody (GTX110704) may be useful to your current work. Catalase is a peroxisomal enzyme that converts hydrogen peroxide to oxygen and water, making it a key feature of the cell’s defense against oxidative stress...

To be honest, if you need to be told what catalase is, you're unlikely to want to buy a product that will let you measure it... but that's just my opinion, and I'm not a spammer.


This is where it gets weird. Spam inviting people to conferences, doesn't make sense, because by definition, if a conference is resorting to spam to get attendees, it's not very good. Respected conferences are often oversubscribed; the whole point about a conference is that people want to be there, because other interesting people are expected to be there. Reputation is everything.

 Here's a few I've been offered in the past two weeks:

31 October 2012 is the deadline to save on registration for APAL 2012. Covering current and specialty aspects of mental health, this is one gathering that you cannot afford to miss! ... Please note that payment can be made by credit card.


1st International Conference on Cultural Psychiatry in Mediterranean Countries, Tel Aviv, Israel | 5-7 November, 2012 The countdown has begun: Less than 2 months to WPA-TPS in Tel Aviv.


Dear colleague, I welcome you to our first international conference on the topic of Integrated psychiatry and clinical psychology as our valued guest speaker. Because of your publication profile, we invite you to present ideas related to your works on related to the topic of the conference. Psychiatry and clinical psychology branches have evolved rapidly in past couple of decades. So much so that several sub-branches have emerged as parts of these sciences. The theme of present conference is integrated psychiatry and clinical psychology...


If you are resorting to spam to get to people to write for your journal, I don't ever want to read it and will never cite anything published in it.

Even if you were only angling for readers, I'd be suspicious of your integrity, but to spam for people to submit to you is absurd. Even mediocre journals nowadays get far more submissions than they can ever print. So if your journal isn't even mediocre enough to attract people then you have a real problem.

Journal of Anesthesiology and Clinical Science (ISSN 2049-9752)

Journal of Anesthesialogy [sic] & Clinical Science is an Open Access and peer reviewed Journal which aims to publish top quality papers on administration of anaesthesia during surgeries and pain management etc. The Journal has well [sic] established Editorial Board and follows rigorous peer review for all the [sic] manuscript's [sic]. visit [sic] the Journal to find latest [sic] articles published... We invite you to submit your research work/paperfor the Anesthesialogy and Clinical Science Journal...

Oh, and you also have a problem if you can't spell your own journal title nor write coherent English despite claiming to only accept high quality scientific papers in that language.

Has anyone else noticed a surge of this kind of thing recently?

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