Academic Publishing University Affairs

Get your predatory publishing into PubMed!

How to make an academic career in medicine, a guide for white men and their wives.

Meet Samy McFarlane, distinguished professor of medicine and associate dean at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University in New York, and also editor-in-chief of predatory journals where he eagerly publishes himself, in fact almost exclusively there. The journals are not listed in PubMed, exactly because they are predatory, their publishers being anything but trustworthy.

The bizarre thing is that McFarlane’s (and his wife’s!) own papers in those predatory journals, mostly in the American Journal of Medical Case Reports, are all nicely listed on PubMed, which he achieves using a loophole available to NIH-funded researchers. Only that McFarlane is not really funded by NIH, the professor uses some faculty colleague’s grant destined for anti-racism training and minorities recruitment! And there is nothing PubMed can or is willing to do about the abuse of the system.

I bet the predatory grifters among scientists outside of USA feel stupid now, because their papers will never be whitelisted by PubMed.

McFarlane is Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Medical Case Reports, most of his own papers appear there; his co-authors are, as I understand, medical students and residents at his SUNY Downstate. The journal is published by a predatory outlet named SciEP.

SciEP was listed by the US librarian Jeffrey Beall as a predatory publisher already in 2012. Beall’s List and his blog have been since completely deleted in 2017 because certain questionable publishers in Switzerland (namely Frontiers) deployed lawyers, and even achieved to have Beall fired. But some kind souls preserved Beall’s copies of blog, so here is the 2012 entry about SciEp:

A brand-new open-access publisher has just appeared: Science and Education Publishing (SciEP). The publisher is launching with 85 new journals […] This practice of starting a publisher with an excessive number of journals is called a “fleet startup.”

It is not clear where exactly SciEP is really operated from, Smut Clyde suspects Hyderabad in India. The official address in “10 Cheswold Blvd., #1D, Newark, De, 19713, United States” is obviously fake, no less than 250 companies are registered in this one single apartment in a two-story residential building. The American Journal of Medical Case Reports was in 2012 not yet among the initial 85 journals, it was set up a year later by the SciEP owner, whoever that Indian gentleman is. All he needed was an interested academic: SciEP even offers a handy button “Launch a New Journal” for this purpose. The founding “editor” was probably not McFarlane, the New York professor seems to have arrived to the journal somewhere in 2018, his papers started to appear there beginning from Volume 6, Issue 12, 2018.

The Article Processing Charges (APC) for McFarlane’s predatory journal used to be $600, but since his customers are himself, his wife, and otherwise mostly people from low-income countries, the fee was dropped in 2021 to $150.

Although most of McFarlane’s papers appeared in that predatory SciEP journal he is Editor-in-Chief of, as a respectable scientist McFarlane of course also occasionally publishes his scientific studies elsewhere. Specifically, in

In 2020 and in 2021 so far, McFarlane published over 50 PubMed-listed papers. Almost every single one appeared in one of these three journals (with Am J Med Case Rep leading by far), except an occasional collaboration. In 2019-2017 it was not better. For that three year period, McFarlane lists over 70 papers on PubMed, excluding again some rare collaborations I spotted 3 papers in Hindawi journals, one at Karger, the rest with various predatory journals, especially Am J Med Case Rep and the other two listed above. Several PubMed-listed papers like Shaikh et al Scifed J Cardiol 2019 appeared at scifedpublishers.com, whatever that predatory claptrap was, it ceased to exist. Same fate seems to have hit papers like Jehan et al Sleep Med Disord. 2018, published by another unreachable predatory malfunction at jscimedcentral.com. For all we know, McFarlane may have acted as editor there as well, but we can’t check anymore. In his 2021-2017 publications, I also spotted occasional papers at the OMICS-offspring Longdom, Beall-listed Gavin Publishers, Juniper Publishers and Baishideng, plus another PeertechZ journal-shaped entity.

As indicated above, another regular contributor to the American Journal of Medical Case Reports is the SUNY Downstate rheumatologist Isabel McFarlane, who is indeed the wife of Samy. Almost all of her ~60 PubMed-listed papers with Mrs McFarlane as last author appeared in that journal, the rare exception was her husband’s other journal, International Journal of Clinical Research and Trials, or that defunct Scifed J Cardiol. Oh look, there is something in Beall-listed Crimson Publishers:

What an academic career this couple achieved.

As for our main protagonist, one can say that nearly everything Mr McFarlane published in the last 3 and a half years appeared in predatory journals, of which in almost all cases he is the Editor-in-Chief. We are talking about over 120 papers, all PubMed listed.

How so? US scientists who receive funding from the national biomedical funding agency National Institutes of Health (NIH) are expected to upload their published manuscripts to the website of NIH’s National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), commonly known as PubMed. It is the website where all biomedical researchers all over the world search for peer reviewed literature, find papers to cite in their own studies, and where they all want their own papers to be listed. While papers with whitelisted publishers and meanwhile even biorxiv preprints appear on PubMed automatically, predatory journals are not admitted and hence never arrive there.

That is, except for papers by scientists like McFarlane and his wife, who simply upload their manuscripts to PubMed, and voila, the publication in a predatory journal is suddenly legalised with a PubMed ID (PMID) and can be used to obtain a promotion or the next NIH grant. Only that you usually need an NIH grant to start with, otherwise you are not qualified to upload your predatory garbage to PubMed.

In theory, that is. Practice is different.

McFarlane describes himself on the website of IntechOpen (a publisher listed by Beall as predatory) as someone who is funded by the NIH:

“He is a nationally and internationally recognized scholar who served as a member at the National Institute of Health-NIDDK committee (3x 4- year terms) and as a chair of the NIH-NIDDK U01 review committee (thrice). He has received multiple recognitions including Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition and he also served as District President for the American College of Physicians. He is also a well-recognized mentor with some of his trainees serving in leadership positions at the NIH and other major institutions.”

McFarlane’s institional website at SUNY Downstate also sounds impressive and insists he receives grants from NIH:

He is a prolific researcher and authored over 300 publications including several books in the areas of diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. He uses research and publications as a way to promote the career of his students, residents and fellows. His funded research by the NIH, ADA and NKF as well as other major institutions was cited over 10,000 times.

Maybe it was in the past? Same NIH references were made in 2016 when McFarlane was appointed a distinguished professor for his “significant contributions to the research literature“:

“His natural talent, love and dedication for student education is evident in all aspects of his career. He has published extensively and written several books […] Dr. McFarlane is a renowned clinical researcher and was appointed as a consultant to the National Institute of Health-National Institute of Diabetes Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIH)-(NIDDK) and served as Chair for the NIH-NIDDK U01 review committee.”

Problem is, I couldn’t find Samy McFarlane among NIH grantees on the website Grantome. So I checked some of his papers, where scientists always acknowledge their grant funding, i.e., if they have any. I started with this most recent PubMed-listed publication, which of course appeared in McFarlane’s own predatory journal:

Julian C. Dunkley, Krunal H. Patel, Andrew V. Doodnauth, Pramod Theetha Kariyanna, Emmanuel Valery, Samy I. McFarlane Contrast-Induced Encephalopathy Post Cardiac Catheterization, A Rare Mimicry of Acute Stroke – Case Presentation and Review of the Literature American Journal of Medical Case Reports. (2021) DOI: 10.12691/ajmcr-9-5-8

The acknowledgment goes:

This work is supported, in part, by the efforts of Dr. Moro O. Salifu MD, MPH, MBA, MACP, Professor and Chairman of Medicine through NIMHD Grant number S21MD012474.”

It’s all very nice, but Dr Moro Salifu is not a coauthor on that paper! I then randomly picked another McFarlane paper in same journal (Doudnath et al 2020), and it also acknowledges Salifu, who again is not a co-author!

A slightly older McFarlane paper, randomly picked from another one of his own predatory journals:

Angelina Zhyvotovska, Denis Yusupov, Haroon Kamran, Tarik Al-Bermani, Rishard Abdul, Samir Kumar, Nikita Mogar, Angeleque Hartt, Louis Salciccioli, and Samy I. McFarlane Meta-analysis Diastolic Dysfunction in Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: A Meta-Analysis of Case Controlled Studies, International Journal of Clinical Research & Trials (2019) doi: 10.15344/2456-8007/2019/137

Guess.

This work is supported, in part, by the efforts of Dr. Moro O. Salifu M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., M.A.C.P., Professor and Chairman of Medicine through NIH Grant number S21MD012474.”

OK, how about a paper by Samy’s wife, the highly productive SUNY researcher Isabel McFarlane?

Pramod Theetha Kariyanna, Naseem A. Hossain, Neema Jayachamarajapura Onkaramurthy, Apoorva Jayarangaiah, Nimrah A. Hossain, Amog Jayarangaiah, Isabel M. McFarlane Hypereosinophilia and Löffler’s Endocarditis: A Systematic Review American Journal of Medical Case Reports (2021) DOI: 10.12691/ajmcr-9-4-10

You knew it already.

This work is supported in part by Dr. Moro O. Salifu’s efforts through NIH Grant # S21MD012474.”

Now the unsavoury bit comes. SUNY Dowstate is a traditionally Black university, that funding source S21MD012474 is not a research grant, but a training grant, for “Health Disparities Research Training“, basically to study racism in US healthcare, designed for “recruiting and training underrepresented minority“. This NIH training grant was awarded in 2018 to Salifu and two other people (Carlos Pato, former dean of the College of Medicine, and Wayne J Riley, SUNY Downstate’s President). It has exactly ZERO connection to what those hundreds of McFarlane’s predatory papers in all possible fields of medicine are about.

There is nothing for Salifu, who is or used to be “Chairman of the Department of Medicine at SUNY Downstate”, to gain from that scam, he can’t submit someone else’s papers in a report to NIH, since neither are they even distantly related to the grant’s topic nor is he not a co-author on them. But McFarlane can use that NIH grant number to upload his and his wife’s predatory garbage to PubMed and legalize it in this way. Which will not only impress his university but might even earn the McFarlane family another pay rise and a NIH grant of their own!

The university hasn’t replied to me. I can’t tell what is going on, if they know, or even if Salifu knows. He seems to be on the game, here he published a book with McFarlane with the very borderline publisher Bentham:

The logic seems to be that even if McFarlane personally may have exactly zero to do with Salifu’s grant, which purpose is do something about “the lack of minorities in science and medicine“, some of the student co-authors may have sat in a lecture on racism in healthcare, and apparently this suffices to help a dishonest white man and his dishonest white wife to fiddle their dishonest CVs. (Update 15.04.2021. A reader from SUNY Downstate protested that Samy and Isabel McFarlane are not white, but Egyptian and Latina, respectively)

White privilege works also at a Black college, as it seems.

Can someone do something? Nope. I received this statement from the National Library of Medicine (NLM):

NIH-funded researchers are subject to the NIH Public Access Policy, which requires that research papers describing research funded by the NIH be available to the public free through PubMed Central (PMC) within 12 months of publication. Consistent with NLM practice, each of the papers in PMC has a corresponding citation in PubMed.

NIH does not direct researchers’ choice of journals in which to publish their findings. Consequently, author manuscripts in PMC may be published in journals that have not been reviewed by NLM or are not part of the NLM collection.

All NIH-funded research is highly vetted and closely monitored during its progress. NIH has also taken steps to encourage authors to publish in reputable journals to protect the credibility of papers arising from its research investment. (See NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-18-011: NIH Statement on Article Publication Resulting from NIH Funded Research.)

To translate: NLM not only are helpless or unwilling to do anything, they even seem to believe that what McFarlane and his wife are doing is “highly vetted” science. Because it has an NIH grant number. Somehow.


Donate!

If you are interested to support my work, you can leave here a small tip of $5. Or several of small tips, just increase the amount as you like (2x=€10; 5x=€25). The APC rates at Dr McFarlane’s journals are low this year, I must hurry to submit some crap of my own!

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27 comments on “Get your predatory publishing into PubMed!

  1. Smut Clyde

    “Several PubMed-listed papers like Shaikh et al Scifed J Cardiol 2019 appeared at scifedpublishers.com, whatever that predatory claptrap was, it ceased to exist.”

    SciFed is “Scientific Federation” – another couple of lowlife OMICS wannabees in Hyderabad. Jeffrey Beall had some pungent words for them. They were always as interested in the Mockademic Conference moneyteat as in publishing, and it looks like they recently walked away from their umpteen journals (as unsufficiently profitable) and focussed on the scamferences. Bad luck for all the suckers who published in those dumpsters.

    Like

  2. Smut Clyde

    “Beall-listed Crimson Publishers”

    Crimson is a failed software engineer in Colorado who also runs Lupine, Iris, and Biomedical Journal of Scientific & Technical Research, because one grift is never enough. An Iris journal is famous for publishing the “What’s the Deal with Birds?” paper.

    Like

  3. Smut Clyde

    “another unreachable predatory malfunction at jscimedcentral.com”

    Jscimedcentral is still extant (alas), and there are six of McFarlane’s emissions recorded as published in Sleep Medicine & Disorders, but no sign of the specific paper you mention. Perhaps they rearranged their archives. Perhaps someone lied about its publication.

    Jeffrey Beall noted that although Jscimedcentral claims to be US-based, it really operates out of Hyderabad, and is the work of one Jacob Nixon Geddam. Who is also behind Jacobs Publishing (an equally skeezy operation), because one grift is never enough.

    https://web.archive.org/web/20160503043421/https://scholarlyoa.com/2014/06/24/real-location-of-jscimed-central-revealed/

    Like

  4. Smut Clyde

    “It is not clear where exactly SciEP is really operated from, Smut Clyde suspects Hyderabad in India.”

    Just look at their logo! That particular color combination appears to be obligatory for Hyderabad predatory publishers (OMICs started the tradition, and all the little OMICS-wannabees follow faithfully).

    Like

  5. Here is the archive.org snapshot of the Editorial Board of SciFed Journal of Cardiology from 2019-10-20: https://web.archive.org/web/20191020095039/http://scifedpublishers.com/journals/scifed-journal-of-cardiology/editorial-board/7 (Shaikh et al. was published in March of that year). Dr. McFarlane of Suny Downstate Medical Center does indeed feature here as a board member.

    Like

  6. “SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University”.

    https://www.downstate.edu/cellbiology/faculty/blain.html

    Exemplary data!
    https://pubpeer.com/search?q=stacy+blain

    Like

  7. Just a possible point about the grant listing, If the grant is a training grant then it directly supports students and/or postdocs and if any of his student co-authors are supported by the training grant then the training grant is supposed to be acknowledged. The paper is then listed as part of the grant renewal.
    Though the acknowledgment format for training grants my students have been on is “initials is partially supported by grant #” to show who is actually supported by the grant.
    This isn’t intended to minimize the fucked-upness of the rest of what they are doing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly, but the grant never names any student.
      That’s why I wrote that having sat in a lecture apparently qualifies to be listed as grant benefactor. 😉
      Anyway, the university refuses all communication.

      Liked by 1 person

    • SUNY Downstate hospital doesn’t have research postdocs, maybe fellowships.

      Grantome database clearly shows that whoever received the NIH grant will appear on the list. My PI with 20 years NIH funding have all the details of projects and the renewal date.

      Samy McFarlane has none.

      https://grantome.com/search?q=Samy%20McFarlane

      If you want to give some leeway, use the first and last name separately and search. In advanced, type in “SUNY downstate”, no data, no funding for Samy McFarlane.

      https://grantome.com/search?q=McFarlane
      https://grantome.com/search?q=Samy

      But try this

      https://grantome.com/grant/NIH/R25-HL105446-11

      This is Mohamed from SUNY downstate who received the funding consistently from 2010, lasting 11 years now.

      Samy is either piggybacking on other’s grant, specifically “Moro Salifu”

      Moro seems to be having the funding with a number of collaborators.

      https://grantome.com/search?q=Moro%20Salifu

      The fact that Samy has been abusing somebody else funding and made it to pubmed listing while completely milking all other case reports as cash cows is not the motto you’d ever read in ethical practice in medicine books.

      Like

  8. PubMed also gives a pass to Elton John lookalikes.

    Like

  9. Pingback: Coloque sua publicação predatória no PubMed! |

  10. Johnny Walker

    Lmao McFarlane is Egyptian and his wife is Hispanic, might want to edit the part about white privilege

    Like

    • You seem to know them personally, or maybe you are Samy who never replied my emails? Do tell more.

      Like

      • Johnny Walker

        I think I’d sound more outraged if I was McFarlane, good try though.

        I’m from Downstate, I don’t feel like giving away any more details publicly on the internet.

        Like

      • Agree, totally unacceptable to disparage an achievement of 300 peer reviewed research papers, how dare I. Half-Egyptian though, right?

        Like

      • Johnny Walker

        I didn’t say anything about any of that, only that you should edit the white privilege part because it’s sloppy and detracts from your overall message, which you kindly reiterated in your comment. The guy’s not white and neither is his wife.

        Like

      • I included your criticism as update.

        Like

    • Yea, Samy and his wife doesn’t look Whites at all here in the US. They’d be labeled as Middle Eastern.

      Like

      • Lee Rudolph

        They’d be labeled as Middle Eastern.

        By whom? Perhaps the generality of White observers would label them both as that, if they recognized his name as Egyptian (although though she is apparently Latina…), but perhaps not if they also noticed that they are working at an Historically Black College. What the two of them (or anyone else) would “look” like “here in the US” would be highly context-dependent, as would the degree to which “White privilege” would influence others’ assessment of them (positively or negatively).

        Like

  11. Joe blow

    It took me one search on google Scholar to realize he has published elsewhere. Whether otr not his use of these publishers is ethical I’ll leave alone. There are good and bad reasons to publish in these outlets. However, pretending he never published elsewhere is nonsense. Also, last author means you are the senior investigator but did not necessarily write the paper, but was a primary editor and may have written parts or contributed to the writing in some significant way while supervising the research.

    https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C44&q=si+mcfarlane&btnG=

    Kirpichnikov, Dmitri, Samy I. McFarlane, and James R. Sowers. “Metformin: an update.” Annals of internal medicine 137.1 (2002): 25-33.
    1500+ citations

    McFarlane, Samy I., Maryann Banerji, and James R. Sowers. “Insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 86.2 (2001): 713-718.
    821 citations

    Feinman, Richard D., et al. “Dietary carbohydrate restriction as the first approach in diabetes management: critical review and evidence base.” Nutrition 31.1 (2015): 1-13.
    724 citations

    McFarlane, S. I., et al. “Pleiotropic effects of statins: lipid reduction and beyond.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 87.4 (2002): 1451-1458.
    438 citations

    McFarlane, Samy I., et al. “Osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.” Endocrine 23.1 (2004): 1-10.
    333 citations

    Accurso, Anthony, et al. “Dietary carbohydrate restriction in type 2 diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome: time for a critical appraisal.” Nutrition & metabolism 5.1 (2008): 1-8.
    309 citations

    In fact, he has 15 papers with over 200 citations each, and 37 that exceed 100 citations.

    I have no idea why he would choose to publish in these outlets, but it’s clear this isn’t some guy beefing up his pub record. There is probably some rationale. Had you tried contacting him? Maybe you said so in article and I missed it. I know you contacted the school.

    Like

    • I did contact McFarlane of course, he never replied. You seem to find the citations number very impressive, did you check the sources?

      Like

      • Joe blow

        Anyone with an academic background knows that is impressive. For the record, I don’t know these people, have no connection to the department. I just read the article and found it poorly researched. I mean, google scholar is the most used index in science, and you didn’t bother to check it? The entire report is pretty crazy, you hit a homerun on subject matter, but should have dug a little deeper. I’m not surprised that he didn’t respond. Still a nutty situation. I wonder if the guy actually realizes what he is doing.

        As for the grant, that is a major red herring. It is commonplace for continuing funding streams targeting hbcus and 1890 land grants to be written as a group but handled by a single faculty member. All faculty use the funds. Then, training typically includes training in research, hence, it can easily lead to publications. Your suggestion that the products are unrelated to the grant require you to obtain a copy via freedom of information act. It’s a pretty easy process and commonly done by journalists. Without that, you are making leaps without evidence.

        Why this guy publishes where he does is a pretty big question. It makes no sense at any level unless he is unaware or really dishonest. It’s his problem!

        Like

    • All those legitimate publications were when Samy was not the corresponding authors. The year that Samy seems to become the Editor-in-Chief to the allege journal was 2018.

      Since then, most of his publications are in the said journals and conveniently linked to Pubmed. On top of that, the only option that one can link their publications to pubmed, as Leonid investigated to NIH, was through NIH funding.

      In all of Samy’s publications in the allege journals, the grant is not his. It’s someone else. Grantome clearly shows that. He has no NIH funding in his own name at all.

      Bottom line, the prior publications from 2018, Samy piggybacked on other departments’ big name whose NIH funding and published on some journals.

      After 2018, he constantly published in his journal and link to pubmed with someone else grant.

      It’s nobody business whether one likes to publish their musings on their blogs, youtube, wordpress, instagram, twitter, etc.

      However the fact that one has never received the NIH grant in his entire academic career and the dubious practice of siphoning someone’s grant and “conveniently” publishing in the said journal, all the while milking all young aspiring residents in the name of “case reports” is utterly disgusting.

      It’s like printing free money for oneself once you become Editor-in-Chief.

      Like

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