Tomasso, a vitreoretinal surgeon (I don’t know whether or not he is a loyal Ophthalmology Times reader), recently shared a blog by someone who calls him/herself “Neuroskeptic”.1
Neuroskeptic penned a spoof “scientific” article about midichlorians, which are the little organisms inside cells that give Jedi Knights (the good guys in the “Star Wars” movies) their powers (and unfortunately, confer those same powers to certain bad guys, like Darth Vader). The article is supposedly authored by Drs. Lucas McGeorge and Annette Kin, allegedly faculty of the University of Saskatchewan, and is quite literally a big joke. A footnote in the manuscript admits that it is mostly plagiarized from a Wikipedia article about mitochondria.
Neuroskeptic submitted his manuscript to nine scientific journals (three journals rejected it; two journals recommended revisions and resubmission). As proof of peer-review, the author received the reviewers’ comments, some of which made it clear that the reviewers were aware of the joke and included humorous suggestions for revisions along the “Star Wars” theme. Nonetheless, the article was not rejected by these two journals. Three journals accepted and published the paper. The ninth journal accepted it but wouldn’t publish it unless a $360 fee was paid. According to this prankster:
So does this sting prove that scientific publishing is hopelessly broken? No, not really. It’s just a reminder that at some “peer-reviewed” journals, there really is no meaningful peer-review at all.