Academic Publishing

Bremen Rector Bernd Scholz-Reiter, a hero of Open Access?

Research by German journalists revealed whole lists of German academics engaging in predatory publishing and scamferences. Named on over 60 predatory conference papers is Bernd Scholz-Reiter, Rector of the University of Bremen and former Vice-President of DFG. Several such papers are even self-plagiarised, and were used in DFG project reports and Scholz-Reiter's rectorship application from 2011

Two German TV journalists, Svea Eckert and Peter Hornung, teamed with some colleagues to expose the scams of predatory publishing and conferences and the motivations of German academics who knowingly pay to participate. Their documentary Fake Science described a win-win situation: the predatory conference organisers pocket a hefty fee, and the academics in return get holidays on a fancy location, paid by the public funds, while padding their CVs with phony academic achievements and scamference proceedings papers. It is everybody else who loses: the taxpaying public who funds these scams, and the scientist peers who chose to earn their publications and conference invitations honestly.  Further research done by these German journalists revealed whole lists of German professors and institute directors engaging in such predatory publishing practices.

One of the listed authors on over 60 predatory conference papers was Bernd Scholz-Reiter, engineering professor specialising in logistics and since 2012 Rector of the University of Bremen in northern Germany, and from 2007 to 2011 Vice-President of the German Research Council (DFG).

BSR

My readers might recall the Bremen rector as the authority who absolved the notorious diabetes researcher Kathrin Maedler from all suspicions of research misconduct, right before the DFG sanctioned Maedler. My most recent relevant article covered the apparent reluctance of the University of Bremen to investigate any of Maedler related issues, including a problematic PhD thesis of the present group leader under her command.

Even Maedler’s husband, the engineering professor and a much bigger fish in German academia, Lutz Mädler, was caught up in the predatory publishing scandal of his University of Bremen. In April this year, he featured as last author on a conference presentation to which a member of his group travelled, in beautiful Venice, Italy. As media reported, the trip was officially approved, but to me University of Bremen categorically denied any active involvement from the side of Mädler.

https://www.tagesschau.de/multimedia/video/video-427769~player_branded-true.html

There were several media articles which followed the Eckert and Hornung investigation, covering predatory publishing activities of Bremen academics. The central figure was the Rector Scholz-Reiter (for example here and here), because his own institute lists no less than 62 papers in predatory journals on the official website, almost half of those with his name on them. Emeritus physics professor Wolfgang Dreybrodt slammed his rector’s publishing behaviour in harshest terms and compared him to a money forger in a newspaper interview.

Despite all that, in the official University of Bremen, predatory conferences and publishing are seen as no big deal. Quite the opposite: past participation in events on interesting locations like Venice, Tenerife or Dubai are defended as an exemplary activism for Open Access, and also Scholz-Reiter himself sees it as such. Even DFG doesn’t seem to mind: such conference proceedings were positively peer-reviewed by DFG experts, who apparently didn’t notice that several of such publications were actually duplications, even though they received full texts of all publications. This utter failure of peer review and DFG bureaucracy now serves a circular argument to declare Scholz-Reiter’s papers with predatory publishers as scientifically impeccable.

Screenshot_2018-10-23 DFG - GEPRIS - Eine Planungsmethode für das Problem der integrierten Produktions- und Transportplanung
Because DFG peer reviewers did not mind a duplicated conference proceedings paper in two predatory WASET journals, this now serves as proof that their scientific quality cannot be criticised. Source: DFG project grant to Scholz-Reiter 2013-2016

Predatory papers in application as Rector

To top it off, I obtained from the University of Bremen a list of publications which Scholz-Reiter submitted with his application for the rectorate of the university. It was not easy to get that list, but with the help of the federal state’s information commissioner’s I eventually succeeded, and that only after Scholz-Reiter himself gave permission. It is rather obvious why the university tried to deny me access: Scholz-Reiter padded his publication record with many predatory papers. Maybe he needed to reach a certain number to apply for rectorship.

This here is the list. It is part of the application package which Scholz-Reiter submitted in 2011 to prove he, at that time Vice-President of DFG, was academically qualified to be appointed as rector of the University of Bremen. That list contains many papers Scholz-Reiter himself now admitted have been published in predatory journals. For example, roughly 1/3 or 26 out of 77 of his publications from 2010 appeared in WSEAS, WASET, NAUN or other predatory outlets. The recruitment panel was mightily impressed and Scholz-Reiter was elected in around December 2011, his official appointment as Rector took place in September 2012.

Between 2009 and 2013, Scholz-Reiter was listed as first or last author on 17 conference proceedings with predatory publishers and scamference organisers like WSEAS (see list here). Another count is of 28 publications with his name on them in such predatory outlets in the same period (see list here). Several of these publications are duplications with various degrees of self-plagiarism, including 1:1 identical copies. Some were positively evaluated by DFG peer reviewers and nobody apparently saw any issues neither with the predatory venues nor with self-plagiarism, despite the latter being disallowed by DFG statutes since 1998.

This analysis shows how similar two such predatory publications are, both were submitted to DFG in 2012 as part of project report, they are listed online. Noteworthy is that Scholz-Reiter himself is well aware of self-plagiarism being wrong, not just in his capacity as former DFG Vice-President. A journal Industrie 4.0 Management edited by him explicitly forbids text reuse:

“Only contributions with original content will be considered. Simultaneous submission to other journals or submission of articles that have already been published elsewhere is not permitted.”

Self-Plagiarism

At the end of this article, I present a list of 14 papers of Scholz-Reiter’s institutional website, categorised specifically as “journal publications (not peer-reviewed)” and not as “conference proceedings (not peer-reviewed)”, 13 of them were duplicated at least once. They all are recognisable as published in predatory venues because Scholz-Reiter himself labelled them with “More Information”, explained as:

“The publisher, where this paper appeared, is today suspected of being a predatory publisher. The article was created on the basis of an extramurally funded research project. It is part of the project’s final report, which has been reviewed by anonymous reviewers. These did not criticize the publication. In some cases, these publications are duplicated, since in addition to the conference abstract, a so-called extended paper was published following some conferences”.

That is not exactly correct. At least 13 of these papers are duplicated in their main text, in large parts. In one case, a paper was published by WASET no less than four times. It was the paper Meinecke and Scholz-Reiter 2014. Two versions of that were submitted to DFG for evaluation, but are not available online, in Open Access or otherwise. I had to request the PDFs from University of Bremen and DFG. The latter simply ignored my request. For the university it took 3 weeks and my specially worded reminder to cough up those two identical manuscripts, here and here. Another two copies of this exact paper appeared here and here, making it in total four copies of same publication.

DFG refused to comment on these publishing activities of their own former Vice-President, and send the press relations officer of University of Bremen Kristina Logemann to explain it all to me.  Who then educated me about the virtues of Open Access and that everything her rector did was perfectly good and right.

University in loyal denial

There will most obviously never be any institutional investigations of these predatory publishing and scamference vacationing activities in Bremen. The university’s academic Ombudsmen Reinhard Fischer and Dagmar Borchers proved non-responsive before, when I tried three times to lodge a formal notification about a suspected misconduct in a PhD thesis supervised by Kathrin Maedler. Not even an acknowledgement of receipt. After all, the Rector already decided there was no misconduct. And now that the Rector’s own academic behaviour is being questioned, it is only understandable that the university officials close ranks.

This is why it came as no surprise when Logemann declared to me on 25 September 2018, 2 months after my original freedom of information inquiry, the following (my own questions in bold):

  1. At which of the listed conferences was Prof Scholz-Reiter personally present?

Mr. Scholz-Reiter was never present at such a conference.

2. At which of the listed conferences was one or more employees of the University personally present?

There were no employees of the University of Bremen present at the listed conferences.

3. Which conference fees and travel, accommodation and subsistence costs have been claimed and reimbursed by the University, for each of these conferences and in total?

No participation fees, travel, accommodation and meals were charged through the University.

I was puzzled. Up to 28 conferences in four years, at one of them Scholz-Reiter’s team even received a “Best Paper Award“, and nobody went there or even planned to? How come the papers were published then if nobody paid?

In reality, Logemann was splitting hairs. Scholz-Reiter’s professorship chair is assigned to BIBA, the Bremen Institute for Production and Logistics. And although BIBA is “one of the first affiliated institutes of the University of Bremen”, funded with huge sums from the federal state of Bremen, with its leadership being University of Bremen professors, it can also with some creative goodwill be unseen as part of the academic university. This is why Logemann could pretend that nobody ever went anywhere and no public money was wasted for any inappropriate Mediterranean vacations.

Screenshot_2018-10-26 Event
Scholz-Reiter’s BIBA invites to an Open Science event. Suddenly they are very much part of University of Bremen.

So I reminded Logemann that BIBA was not Scholz-Reiter’s private company, but very much a publicly funded research institute affiliated with the University of Bremen. I then received a reply, where Logemann admitted that BIBA employees did participate in the predatory conferences after all. She did not say who paid for those and how much, but insisted on two things: that the University of Bremen did not pay, and that BIBA is not part of the university. Draw your own conclusions then who paid.

Logemann also made clear that nobody sees anything untoward with those scamference participations and publications in predatory journals, even with the self-plagiarism. Even when used in an application for the position as rector of the university. The press speaker issued to me this official statement:

 “As you can see, the attached list includes, among others, titles that have been published by publishers who are now suspected of being predatory. Of course, Mr. Scholz-Reiter has declared these publications, especially since he was not aware of the practices of these publishers at the time and thus there was no doubt about the seriousness of these publishers.

In this context, as in the past, we point out the following:

The publications co-authored by Mr. Scholz-Reiter with the publishers now under suspicion of being predatory have been in Open Access since their publication – this concerns a period from 2009 to 2014. So for several years they have been available free of charge for anyone to download and read on the internet. None of the contributions had any substantive objections during these years. The scientific quality and integrity of the published texts therefore cannot be questioned.

The publications have also been created on the basis of extramurally funded research projects. In the research projects’ final reports the publications are listed and attached accordingly. These reports have been reviewed by anonymous reviewers. Neither the publications nor the selected venues of publication have been criticized in the statements communicated by the extramural funding agencies, such as the German Research Council.

Mr. Scholz-Reiter welcomes the discussion triggered by the reporting on Predatory Publishing. He hopes that it will help to raise awareness among all members of the science system about the machinations of predatory publishers. But he also wants to point out how important it is to carefully distinguish in the debate between the predatory publishers and dishonest authors on the one side and the honest authors on the other side. There should not arise a false impression that there is more “Fake” than truth in science. It cannot be concluded that a publication published by what is known today as Predatory Publisher is scientifically dubious by that alone.”

The above message by Logemann to me was actually largely copy-pasted from this July 2018 press statement, which was signed by Scholz-Reiter. Not even here one gets original material, must be a Bremen speciality. In that press statement, the rector also explains why he published with WSEAS and WASET:

“As the good idea of ​​Open Access gained strong support a decade ago, a number of new publishers appeared on the market who gave the impression of being serious. At that time there was no reason to doubt the seriousness of these publishers, also due to lack of history and experience with these new publishers for me and my colleagues. Political upheavals such as the EU enlargement and the opening of the academic systems in Asia and the Arab countries brought additional providers and authors on the markets. That these new publishers were unknown, was in the nature of things.

Scientists who were convinced of the Open Access model then went over to publishing their papers with these publishers, even though they had to take bibliometric disadvantages into account. That’s because with publications in new journals of new publishers one as an author inevitably cannot in the first years achieve as good bibliometric performance as with established publishers. Open Access thus had a greater importance for these scientists than good bibliometrics.

For me personally it was important to seek a middle ground – in addition to the publication route in the classical journals by established publishers came the publication in Open Access and then inevitably in new journals from new publishers. For both routes, the scientific integrity and the quality of published articles stood and still stands for me in the foreground.”

This, dear readers, is how University of Bremen and DFG apparently apply the DORA Assessment (though they didn’t sign) and its central tenet for

“the need to assess research on its own merits rather than on the basis of the journal in which the research is published”.

With Rector and former DFG President Scholz-Reiter, it indeed doesn’t matter where and in fact in how many copies his research was published. It has been positively evaluated because everyone knows what an upstanding decent scientist Professor Scholz-Reiter is, and this is exactly why he is one of the honest authors on that other side. The peer review is just a silly formality for established academic elites like he is one, and this is exactly why it doesn’t matter if Scholz-Reiter’s papers appeared in Science or WASET. Actually it does, because as Logemann educated me, WASET, WSEAS and NAUN are Open Access, which makes her Rector’s papers there an even nobler deed.

I personally think the only proper reaction to such academic self-sacrifice for the glory of Open Access is to award Professor Scholz-Reiter with the Bundesverdienstkreuz.

List of papers of Scholz-Reiter’s institutional website, categorised as “journal publications (peer-reviewed)”, 13/14 are duplicated

  1. J.Meinecke, C.; Scholz-Reiter, B.

A Heuristic for the Integrated Production and Distribution Scheduling Problem

International Journal of Mechanical, Industrial Science and Engineering, 8(2014)2, World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, pp. 74-81

under same title probably first published in large parts under:

Proceedings of the International Conference on Computational Optimization, Modelling and Optimization (ICCOMO 2014), S.299-306

The first two manuscripts are not available online, but they were both submitted to DFG for evaluation. Another two copies of this exact paper appeared here and here, making it in total four copies of same publication.

Kuala-Lumpur, Malaysia,   WASET

2. Grundstein, S.; Schukraft, S.; Görges, M.; Scholz-Reiter, B.

An approach for applying autonomous production control methods with central production planning

International Journal of Systems Applications, Engineering & Development, 7(2013)4, NAUN, Athens, pp. 167-174

first published in large parts as:

Interlinking Central Production Planning with Autonomous Production Control

Proceedings of 6th International Conference on Manufacturing Engineering, Quality and Production Systems (MEQAPS ’13); and 4th International Conference on Automotive and Transportation Systems (ICAT ’13),

Brasov, Romania,  WSEAS

  1. Scholz-Reiter, B.; Kück, M.; Toonen, C.

Improved Demand Forecasting Using Local Models Based on Delay Time Embedding

International Journal of Systems Applications, Engineering & Development, 6(2012)1, University Press, pp. 17-27

first published in large parts as:

Improved Forecasting Considering Dynamic Properties within the Time Series of Customer Demands

Proceedings of 11th WSEAS International Conference on SIGNAL PROCESSING, COMPUTATIONAL GEOMETRY and ARTIFICIAL VISION (ISCGAV ’11); 11th WSEAS International Conference on SYSTEMS THEORY AND SCIENTIFIC COMPUTATION (ISTASC ’11),

Florence, Italy. WSEAS

  1. Harjes, F.; Scholz-Reiter, B.; Kaviani Mehr, A.

Elman Networks for the Prediction of Inventory Levels and Capacity Utilization

International Journal of Applied Mathematics and Informatics, 5(2011)4, University Press, London, pp. 283-290

first published in large parts as:

Prediction of Inventory Levels and Capacity Utilization with Artificial Neural Networks

Proceedings of 4th International Conference on MANUFACTURING ENGINEERING, QUALITY and PRODUCTION SYSTEMS (MEQAPS ’11),

Barcelona, Spain: WSEAS

  1. Scholz-Reiter, B.; Heger, J.; Lütjen, M.; Schweizer (Virnich), A.

A MILP for Installation Scheduling of Offshore Wind Farms

International Journal of Mathematical Models and Methods in Applied Sciences, 5(2011)1, North Atlantic University Union, pp. 371-378

first published in large parts as:

Planning and Control of Logistics for Offshore Wind Farms

Proceedings of 12th WSEAS International Conference on MATHEMATICAL and COMPUTATIONAL METHODS in SCIENCE and ENGINEERING (MACMESE ’10),

Faro, Portugal:  WSEAS

ex5

  1. Scholz-Reiter, B.; Lappe, D.; Toonen, C.; Ruthenbeck, C.

Development of a Hybrid Control Approach for Automotive Logistics Based on Close to Real-Time Information Management

International Journal of Systems Applications, Engineering & Development, 5(2011)4, University Press, pp. 545-552

first published in large parts as:

Introduction of a Hybrid Control Approach for Automotive Logistics

Proceedings of 11th WSEAS International Conference on ROBOTICS, CONTROL and MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGY (ROCOM ’11); 11th WSEAS International Conference on MULTIMEDIA SYSTEMS & SIGNAL PROCESSING (MUSP ’11),

Venice, Italy:  WSEAS

  1. Scholz-Reiter, B.; Rippel, D.; Sowade, S.

A Concept for Simulation of Autonomous Logistic Processes

International Journal of Systems Applications, Engineering & Development, 5(2011)3, University Press, pp. 324-333

first published in large parts as:

Modeling and Simulation of Autonomous Logistic Processes

Proceedings of European Conference of Chemical Engineering (ECCE ’10); European Conference of Civil Engineering (ECCIE ’10); European Conference of Mechanical Engineering (ECME ’10); European Conference of Control (ECC ’10),

Puerto De La Cruz, Tenerife, Spain: WSEAS

  1. Scholz-Reiter, B.; Sowade, S.; Rippel, D.

Drivers for the Configuration of Autonomous Logistic Control Systems’ Infrastructure

International Journal of Systems Applications, Engineering & Development, 5(2011)3, University Press, pp. 350-358

first published in large parts as:

Modeling the Infrastructure of Autonomous Logistic Control Systems

Proceedings of European Conference of Systems (ECS ’10) European Conference of Circuits Technology and Devices (ECCTD ’10); European Conference of Communications (ECCOM ’10); European Conference of Computer Science (ECCS ’10),

Puerto De La Cruz, Tenerife, Spain: WSEAS

ex8

  1. Scholz-Reiter, B.; Toonen, C.; Lappe, D.

Impact of Market Dynamics on Performance and Internal Dynamics of Job-Shop Systems

International Journal of Systems Applications, Engineering & Development, 5(2011)4, University Press, pp. 537-544

first published in large parts as:

Job-Shop-Systems – Continuous Modeling and Impact of External Dynamics

Proceedings of 11th WSEAS International Conference on ROBOTICS, CONTROL and MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGY (ROCOM ’11); 11th WSEAS International Conference on MULTIMEDIA SYSTEMS & SIGNAL PROCESSING (MUSP ’11),

Venice, Italy: WSEAS

  1. Scholz-Reiter, B.; Toonen, C.; Tervo, J. T.; Lappe, D.

Sampling of Variables in Discrete-Event Simulation Using the Example of Inventory Evolutions in Job-Shop-Systems Based on Deterministic and Non-Deterministic Data

World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology – Special Journal Issue, 5(2011)1, pp. 522-527

likely first published in large parts and under same title in:

Proceedings of the International Conference on Modeling and Simulation (ICMS 2011),

World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, Special Journal Issue 73 (2011), pp. 1053-1058

Dubai, UAE: WASET

  1. Scholz-Reiter, B.; Lütjen, M.; Thamer, H.

Towards Automated Visual Inspection and Classification of Micro-Parts

WSEAS TRANSACTIONS on APPLIED and THEORETICAL MECHANICS, 5(2010)1, pp. 112-121

first published in large parts as:

Towards Machine Vision based Surface Inspection of Micro-Parts

Proceedings of 5th WSEAS International Conference on APPLIED and THEORETICAL MECHANICS (MECHANICS ’09),

Puerto De La Cruz, Tenerife, Spain: WSEAS

  1. Scholz-Reiter, B.; Thamer, H.; Uriarte, C.

An Approach for 3D Object Recognition of Universal Goods

International Journal of Computers, 5(2010)2, NAUN, Athens, pp. 8

first published in large parts as:

Towards 3D Object Recognition for Universal Goods in Logistic

Proceedings of European Conference of Systems (ECS ’10); European Conference of Circuits Technology and Devices (ECCTD ’10),

Puerto De La Cruz, Tenerife, Spain: WSEAS

  1. Scholz-Reiter, B.; Mehrsai, A.; Görges, M.

Handling the Dynamics in Logistics – Adoption of Dynamic Behavior and Reduction of Dynamic Effects

AIJST-Asian International Journal of Science and Technology Production and Manufacturing Engineering (AIJSTPME), 2(2009)3, AIJSTPME, pp. 99-110

  1. Scholz-Reiter, B.; Sowade, S.; Rippel, D.;Teucke, M.; Özsahin, M.-E.; Hildebrandt, T.

A Contribution to the Application of Autonomous Control in Manufacturing

International Journal of Computers, 3(2009)3, NAUN, pp. 279-291

first published in large parts as:

Applying Autonomous Control in Apparel Manufacturing

Proceedings of 9th WSEAS International Conference on Robotics, Control and Manufacturing Technology (ROCOM’09),

Hangzhou, China: WSEAS


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7 comments on “Bremen Rector Bernd Scholz-Reiter, a hero of Open Access?

  1. ScienceWatchDogs

    To Scholz-Reiter you should resign from your post. This is a disgrace to German science.

    Like

  2. Smut Clyde

    Word must have been circulating right after the first WASET scamference that the whole series is predatory, the work of a single larcenous family. Jeffrey Beall devoted a post to their scoundrelly behaviour in mid-2014: https://web.archive.org/web/20140830040934/http://scholarlyoa.com/2014/08/28/predatory-publisher-organizes-conference-using-same-name-as-legitimate-conference/

    About the same time, the redoubtable Tom Spears used WASET as a notable example of how a parallel ecosystem of ‘mock science’ is emerging to fill the needs of mock-scientists in a citation-index-driven environment: https://ottawacitizen.com/technology/science/science-and-the-death-of-peer-review

    However, when Debora Weber-Wulff wrote about them two years earlier, she was able to cite a news report about WASET theft and corruption from 2010: https://copy-shake-paste.blogspot.com/2012/06/turkish-mock-conferences.html
    Or 2010 again: http://comp-lite.blogspot.com/2010/07/is-waset-fraud-whose-victims-keep-quiet.html

    So I am not sure exactly when it became generally, unavoidably recognised that WASET is unadulterated grift, to the extent that all participants in their events must be aware that they’re accomplices in theft from their institutions. You might think from the ‘Fake Science’ documentary that the journalists discovered it themselves. But it has been a long time.

    Like

  3. Here is an example from a WASET conference this summer in Austria, where journalists attended with a fake abstract and concluded that it was organized for one purpose: to earn money.

    One of the participants, Dr. Radesh Palakurthi, professor and Dean at Kemmons Wilson School of Hospitality & Resort, University of Memphis, highlighted a “Best paper presentation” award he got at the same predatory conference in an interview for Film Journal International:

    ….”Dr. Palakurthi has received several research awards, including a recent “Best paper Presentation” Award at the ICET 2018: 20th International Conference on Educational Travelling Vienna in June”….

    http://www.filmjournal.com/search?search_api_views_fulltext=Radesh%20Palakurthi

    After contacting the University of Memphis, I noticed that the page is no longer accecible:

    http://www.filmjournal.com/features/data-master-dr-radesh-palakurthi-rising-star-concession-analytics

    Maybe too embarrassing for the university and the journal?

    Like

  4. Pingback: "Fidarsi, ma verificare" - Ocasapiens - Blog - Repubblica.it

  5. Tuesday, November 6th 2018: “The General Assembly of the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK) has elected two new members to the HRK Executive Committee: The Rector of the University of Bremen, Professor Dr.-Ing. Bernd Scholz-Reiter, will take over the focus “International Affairs”. The industrial engineer is, among others Member of the German Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech) and the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences. From 2007 to 2011 he was Vice President of the
    German Research Foundation.”

    Question: Would he be elected to such a high office by his colleagues if he were not “clean”?

    Like

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