This is a summary of this DEFCON 26 talk on predatory journals [slides]. It’s 2 hours long.

I’ve written a teaser summary and table of contents below, if it doesn’t motivate you then I saved you a click.

Three investigative journalists investigate predatory journals. It’s a two-phase informal experiment for their documentary (which is part of the video, timestamp below).

They auto-generate a fake computer science paper that is vaguely coherent gibberish. They are accepted and invited to present at a conference. They present the same gibberish; if anyone in the audience knew anything about computer science, they would have been in trouble! Despite the inanity of their talk, they are awarded for “Best Presentation”.

They go on to make a fake cancer-cure paper. Bees cure cancer, right? They quote a children’s book about bees to support their claim. They are accepted, and are then invited to several other journals immediately. They are offered to be the keynote speaker at a conference.

They then present to us an analysis of the predatory journal market. Why it matters beyond quackery: critical infrastructure equipment is “proven” in these, the tobacco industry uses them, pharma companies do too.

Concludes with Q&A and their documentary which packages their findings.

Here’s a table of contents for the video; (timestamps/section names after in parenthesis) - the default sections aren’t great:

  • Intro, who they are
  • What’s predatory publishing?
  • Gibberish paper - Accepted, Gave Gibberish talk, won “Best presentation” award - (9m)
  • Bit of investigation into the conference they talked at, above - who runs this? Multigo.
  • Bees cure cancer! Keynote speaker. eFavier Institute
  • Other customers of these journals - medicine “proven” in these journals, snake oil (27m)
  • Predatory journal analysis - who are these people? (34m)
  • Beyond snake oil: tobacco, pharma. Corporate use of marketing potential. (45m)
  • Critical public safety companies are here (50m)
  • Why this is important (52m)
  • Conclusion, thanking people, how to reach them (56m)
  • Q&A (57m)
  • Documentary that they produced as a result of their investigation (1h6m)
  • Comments on documentary (1h35m)