Scientific Journals Accept Prank Star Wars-Themed Paper

Lucasfilm
Lucasfilm
TOM CICCOTTA

Several scientific journals have accepted a Star Wars-themed spoof research paper that is filled with fictional entities, references to the films, and a monologue from Revenge of the Sith.

According to a report from Discover Magazine, several “predatory” scientific journals accepted a spoof Star Wars-themed research paper. The work, titled “Mitochondria: Structure, Function and Clinical Relevance,”  was accepted by four of the nine journals to which it was submitted. Although the title might seem legitimate, the paper referenced “midi-chlorians,” the fictional entities in Star Wars that give Jedi their powers.

Four journals fell for the sting. The American Journal of Medical and Biological Research (SciEP) accepted the paper, but asked for a $360 fee, which I didn’t pay. Amazingly, three other journals not only accepted but actually published the spoof. Here’s the paper from the International Journal of Molecular Biology: Open Access (MedCrave), Austin Journal of Pharmacology and Therapeutics (Austin) and American Research Journal of Biosciences (ARJ) I hadn’t expected this, as all those journals charge publication fees, but I never paid them a penny.

Some of the journals that published the prank paper have since pulled it down.

The paper includes a portion of the “Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise” monologue from the Revenge of the Sith film.

To create the body of the research paper, its author copied the text of the Wikipedia entry for “mitochondrion,” a real biological phenomena known to high school biology students across the country as the “powerhouse of the cell.” The author then reworded the text from the Wikipedia entry to make it appear original using a process called rogeting, which replaces words in a document with appropriate synonyms. Ironically, the author even mentioned in a section of the paper that a significant portion of the paper was reworded text from other sources. “The majority of the text of this paper was Rogeted [7],” the paper reads.

The paper was supposed to have been written by the fictional author Dr. Lucas McGeorge, a play on George Lucas, the visionary behind the Star Wars franchise. After the research had been accepted by one of the predatory journals, the fictional Dr. Lucas McGeorge was asked to serve on its editorial board.

These predatory journals purport to only accept the best scholarship that they receive. Instead, as this and similar hoaxes have proved, these journals will often publish anything, making it harder for those looking for legitimate research to find the information that they need.

Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about economics and higher education for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at tciccotta@breitbart.com

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