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    • CommentAuthorquid
    • CommentTimeJun 2nd 2013 edited

    The question Crackpot journals asking "What are the names of these crackpot journals?" (with some quotes claiming their existence).

    Besides this question being generally problematic, it also strikes me first as unansawerable (in completeness) as well as, and most importantly, rather pointless. In addition to having already create a quite aggressive exchange in the comments.

    If the questions would at least ask how to avoid accidentally picking a journal of questionable reputation I might consider this as an in principle reasonable question (which does not necessarily mean it should be on MO).

    Of course, theoretically, having a completele list of all these journals (leaving matters of subjectivity in some cases aside) would allow one to also answer the question I raise. However, first, a complete list is unlikely to be compiled (as there are many, new ones appear, and so on ) and, second, it seems a most ineffficient way to me to approach the (practical) question I mentioned.

    However, it seems to me the distinction between the two questions 'create a complete list' vs 'how to avoid them' is not made in a sufficiently (IMO) clear way by various contributiors in the discussion (in already twenty comments). One could consider this as harmless or even irrelevant yet it [the lack of this distiction being clearly made] appears to me to be a main reason for a already quite agressive exchange in the comments.

    (Further note on this exchange: I cannot know if I saw all comments and I know some where (self-)deleted, with good intentions, but I was active in the exchange, in trying to calm it down, with at first some success or so I thought, but quite limited success in the end it seems. From what I saw, and circumstantial evidence, it seems to me that the accusation, not directed at me to be clear but at somebody, that there were 'racist hateful comments' as quite exaggerated and/or incorrect thus the claim seems insulting; that being said a comment I saw, while in my opinion intended as playful [which I tried to convey and thought had achieved, thus everything related to this is gone], reasonably could have been read as insulting, too, which explains the reaction, yet still 'racist hateful' seems very exaggerated and/or incorrect, from what I saw.)

    In any case, I would appreciate if this question was reclosed (I have no interest to partcipate in another open/close conflict) and best deleted as soon as possible. Or at the very least the question could be reformualted and the comment thread cleaned.

    ps. I thought about handling this via a flag but then since the situation is complex for 140 characters I decided for this way of raising the matter (besides it is in my opinion also somewhat typical and thus possibly of wider interest than the specific case at hand, but this really only in parenthesis). [Added: It occured to me I could raise a flag in addition, which I did, referring to this.]


    I'd prefer to be cautious before dismissing a claim of racism. While I would view "Aussie bureaucrat" as more of a nationalistic than racist phrase, I may be missing some deleted comments in the exchange that justify the claim of racism. On the other hand, I do think the general tone of the discussion that I saw is not what I would prefer at MO.

    Does anyone have a good reason for keeping this question open? Some anonymous person quoting A.J. Hildebrand seems to think it is important, but Hildebrand doesn't justify his claims, or describe ways to distinguish crackpot journals from good ones. Even if we were to compile a very long list of presumed crackpot journals, we would have no reason to think it is comprehensive or accurate, so it would have limited utility. The case of Chaos, Solitons, and Fractals (highest impact factor in mathematics) is a good cautionary tale, but the lesson there seems to be that one should take a good look at a journal before submitting to it.

    Incidentally, the "graded journal list" seems to be a good example of what happens when people in charge want to measure performance, but can't be bothered to invest in the hard work of doing review by peers. Thompson Scientific (among others) is reaping good money from this "modeling death-spiral".

    • CommentAuthorfedja
    • CommentTimeJun 2nd 2013
    Yeah. It is a rare case when I agree with quid completely :). You can handle such questions nicely if you have some healthy cynicism and good sense of humor or if you have enough good will and patience, but once you see "If you say (whatever), don't talk to me!", it is a clear sign of a thread running out of control. When I act as a mod on AoPS, I lock such things immediately. Voting to close.
    Closed. Wow.
    • CommentAuthorquid
    • CommentTimeJun 2nd 2013 edited

    Just to avoid a misconception some details I remember: The comment delteted I saw contained nothing worse than "Aussie boureaucrats" in this direction or any related direction. (I am not even sure it contain more related to Australia.)

    The comment mainly said something like this: Poor EJC do not listen to what they say. Perhaps they never read a single paper in you. Just tell them what Gowers said about you. And they will be impressed. (Linking to a blog post of Gowers.)

    Formulated in a more exaggerated way with excessive exclamation marks. I took this as playful way to convey the message that such lists have issues. (Perhaps, there were again Aussie boureaucrats in their, or this Aussie list or something like this. But nothing else. And also not in an excessive or repeated way, just if at all as it came up in the phrase. In any case the only distinction to other critical remarks against this list I can see is that Aussie is said instead of Australian. But this is all I did not even pay attention to this aspect. (It was not the first comment against the Australian administration in the thread. I found and find it very uncharitable to give that type of spin on it.) The reason why I found this potentially insulting also had nothing to do with Australia.

    But rather that one can read it like: everybody who cares about such a list does not have the competence to form their own opinion. If one reads it like this and thinks one is the target this is insulting. Except one should not read it like this. Which is what I then said. Getting the reply in writing this is not so easy to tell (Which is true). And the comment was retracted and deleted with some sort of appology. So, I said I delete my first and the second later on, which I did and then all of this was gone or at least shortly after. So this seemed settled to me. But then where two more, one each, comments still visible.

    To be clear: it could be possible, as I said, that there was something I did not see or notice, I cannot exclude this. Personally I doubt it but this is my personal opinion.

    "the lesson there seems to be that one should take a good look at a journal before submitting to it." Perhaps a suitable question for MO would be, what exactly should one look for before submitting to a journal? What are the signs that a particular journal should be avoided?

    I am deeply sorry for what my careless comments have caused. I would be most grateful if moderators could allow me to explain what has happened in the comment section of the thread on the main website. If there is any doubt, I would be grateful if moderators could examine the log data, reconstruct deleted exchanges, and see exactly what happened.

    As quid mentioned here, I have deleted exactly two comments. If memory serves, one of them starts with "Oh, poor EJC. There, there, don't worry" or similar informal expressions, followed by equally casual sentences in the American vernacular. I believe that the content was practically the same as what quid explained earlier in this meta thread.

    The problematic part, as I understand it, was about, for lack of a better term, the "silliness" of unjustly looking down on publication venues by blindly believing a journal ranking and/or a single famous figure's opinion without reading what has been published in those journals or asking for second opinions from experts you know very well and trust. I described hypothetical people in a way no one would behave that sillily, which I think is what quid calls "exaggeration." My intention was to make the comment humorous as well as to let the reader know it was not serious. Unfortunately, in the deleted comment, I used the word "idiots" to describe the obviously exaggerated hypothetical people, at which one MO user, Joseph Van Name, apparently took offence.

    The other deleted comment was, as quid says, an apology in more formal language. This apology was made because Joseph Van Name apparently found the deleted comment offensive and seems to have taken it as an ad hominem attack directly at him. I had hard time understanding why my comment sounded to him as if it had been directed at a real person, let alone one particular person in the thread. However, looking at how he expressed his opinion about my comments, apparently I failed to get across what I intended.

    In any case, I firmly believe that there was no hateful word, phrase or sentence aimed at one particular race or ethnicity.

    I deleted the first comment when positing the apology. After this, if I remember correctly, Joseph Van Name deleted at least one of his comments made during this exchange. I then deleted my apology to clean up the thread. Subsequently, I believe that another comment by quid that kindly defended me was deleted.

    I do not remember deleting or editing any other comments in the thread or any other place on the main website of MO since then. I believe that I have never expressed hatred of a specific race or ethnicity anywhere on MO or anywhere else on or off line in my entire life. If there is a racist hateful comment by me, it must be a slang word I am not familiar with that is coincidentally spelled exactly the same as some valid common word, a similar unintended overlap between expressions specific to a regional dialect I do not speak and those in common use with no racial connotation, or a misunderstanding due to lack of my proficiency in the English language; I am not a native English speaker.

    As for the term "Aussie," I did not use it to express hatred of a particular group of people. I admit that my comment as a whole, not any particular word, had a negative connotation toward the kind of bureaucracy that led to an unfairly poor evaluation of one specific journal and the repeated refusal of correcting the situation. However, the use of the informal word is simply due to the fact that I was in the mood of writing in an informal tone, perhaps partly because of the negative feeling about the kind of bureaucracy. If this particular use of the term constitues racism, I apologize to everyone who is offended by my carelessness and poor command of English. I did not have any bad intention. It was certainly not intended to insult Australian citizens.

    I can not seem to recall any other hateful comment by me that might offend a certain group of people. Therefore, while Joseph Van Name claims that I have made multiple "racist hateful comments," if he believes that he is making a correct claim in good faith, I tend to think that this is unfortunate misunderstanding, such as unintentional racial slang expressions I do not know. If this is the case, I woud be most grateful if he or someone else could point out expressions in my comments that might have colored me racist. I would like to avoid accidentally making a racist hateful comment without realizing it.


    I should also apologize for the rather strong and confrontational wording in the subsequent comments in the thread on the main MO website. I admit that I was being frustrated by the idea that "C grade journals" and "unranked journals" were likely "crackpottery," which was claimed by Joseph Van Name, partly because I know very good unranked journals and poorly ranked ones that attract solid papers but hold low acceptance standards, and partly because of the kind of "silliness" I mentioned earlier in this post.

    If I am allowed to digress for one paragraph, I particularly find it unacceptable to call a journal "crackpottery" without giving any evidence or imply it by using indirect and unreliable measures as supporting evidence. I did not explicitly say this in the thread because it would be too off-topic. But it is my opinion that one must give convincing reasons and concrete supporting evidence when criticizing the quality of a journal as being crackpot, or one must at least state it as a professional opinion as an expert. I do not like the idea of using prestigie determined by how hard it is to "get a paper into" a journal in order to identify "crackpottery" either. If such logic were sound, arXiv would be a flagship journal in crackpottology, so to speak, because of its lowest possible acceptance standards. There are also journals with low standards that are nonetheless useful to their respective fields as broad archival journals.

    I think that the tone of my comments that are still visible were influenced by these thoughts and some other personal opinions, which are not related to race or ethnicity at all. I am sorry if anyone is offended by any of my comments, and would like to apologize to the moderators for causing trouble.

    I hope that this helps moderators and other members of MO understand what happened.

    I am Australian (although no longer resident), and anyone who denigrates Aussie bureaucrats in the context of journal rankings has my full support.
    • CommentAuthorquid
    • CommentTimeJun 3rd 2013

    @Yuichiro Fujiwara: yes I (only) meant that the style was more exaggerated than what I reproduce, to make it more explict as an example I had in mind the difference in style between "Poor EJC do not listen" and "Oh, poor EJC. There, there, don't worry".

    I deleted all my comments to the crackpot journals question because just about everything I said has been misinterpreted and used against me. :( Don't ask me any questions about the crackpot journals discussion because I refuse to answer them lest I start another degenerative discussion.

    Okay, I think we're done on this issue!

    I'm closing this thread, and leaving the post on the main site as is.