Schneider Shorts

Schneider Shorts 21.10.2022 – The Book of Smits

Schneider Shorts 21.10.2022 - a German stealth professor of psychology at Columbia, a visiting fraudster at Imperial College, a scamference amateur at Nuttingham Trash University, retractions in UK, US and elsewhere, a racist hiding in plain sight, a far-right conspiracist conference at Stanford, and finally, an OA Gospel of Frontiers.

Schneider Shorts of 21 October 2022 – a German stealth professor of psychology at Columbia, a visiting fraudster at Imperial College, a scamference amateur at Nuttingham Trash University, retractions in UK, US and elsewhere, a racist hiding in plain sight, a far-right conspiracist conference at Stanford, and finally, an OA Gospel of Frontiers.

Table of Discontent

Science Elites

Retraction Watchdogging

Scholarly Publishing

News in Tweets

Science Elites

Ursula, Professor of Psychology

In previous Friday Shorts I told you about the mysterious pre-term resignation of Ursula Staudinger as Director of the Aging Center at Columbia University in late 2017. Two years later, Staudinger left Columbia and USA altogether and returned to Germany to become the rector of TU Dresden, a university known to make bad choices for faculty recruitments.

Bad Choices in Dresden III

Lorenza Colzato was a rising star of psychology and a role model for Women in STEM. All Dutch media and even some local German newspapers talk about her now. But I want to talk about her husband Bernhard Hommel instead.

Staudinger remains silent on why she decided to abruptly resign as director and later even to terminate her “lifetime” professorship at Columbia. She also remains silent on yet another discrepancy.

In several of Staudinger’s current CVs she states to have been “Professor of Psychology” at the Columbia University. E.g. her CV at the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina says “Professorin für Sozialmedizin und für Psychologie an der Columbia University” (2013 till now), her current official profile at TU Dresden says “Professor of Psychology” at Columbia (2013-2018), but also her personal LinkedIn profile says “Professor of Psychology Columbia University” (2013-now) and even her personal website says “Professor of Psychology at the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center at Columbia University in New York” (2013-2020).

So far, so more or less consistent. The problem is that the only party obviously unaware of Dr Staudinger’s (former) status as Professor of Psychology at Columbia University is the Department of Psychology of the Columbia University.

Look at the archived history of their faculty page from 2016-2017. Everyone else is presented as “Professor of Psychology” or “Professor, Department of Psychology”, even the adjuncts and visiting professors, but not Staudinger whose other presentations insist she was full professor at that faculty. And yet, one doesn’t find her on Columbia’s page among “Faculty”, just among “Affiliated”. Only her other Columbia professorship in socio-medical sciences is mentioned, the “Robert N. Butler Professor” title, which turned out not as “lifetime” as we used to be informed. Why such discrepancy? Staudinger refuses to explain.

Also the Columbia University remains silent. I think Professor Staudinger must report her former colleagues for bullying. Tee-hee.

Stebbing out

Justin Stebbing, British cancer research cheater and miracle healer who has been put on tribunal and shamed nation-wide for scamming terminally ill but very rich cancer patients with quack cures, has finally been removed by the Imperial College London from his permanent positions as professor of cancer medicine and oncology and consultant oncologist. Don’t worry about his finances, he scammed enough from his celebrity patients. In fact, he just returned to clinical practice after a brief suspension imposed by the benevolent tribunal who never forgot that despite the heavy accusations of cynical patient abuse (read here, here and here), Stebbing is a rich white English man. At least his fake paper in Nucleic Acids Research was eventually retracted.

This is what Stebbing’s institutional profile at Imperial says now:

“In March 2022 he resigned from his permanent position at Imperial College and was appointed a Visiting Professor of Cancer Medicine. He still has an active translational research program here.”

The last bit is not true, sources informed me his lab has been completely cleared out. We should not commend Imperial College on sacking this crook, rather Stebbing had no choice but to leave because (from what I heard) everyone hated him there. But the leadership of Imperial was sad to see him go, so they keep this charade with “visiting professor” and of course, no misconduct findings.

Stebbing also remains Editor-in-Chief of the Nature family journal Oncogene. And a hero of COVID-19 research, probbaly because of his association with none other but the infamous covidiot Karol Sikora who defended Stebbing during the tribunal hearings.

Tiwari wannabe

Thanks to Alexander Magazinov for reminding me. Smut Clyde’s recent article on the Nuttingham Trash Nottingham Trent University needed an update to celebrate another clown among its ranks.

Nuttingham Trash University

“I will not by myself, or be instructing or encouraging any other person or howsoever othewise, publish or cause to be published words or otherwise howsoever make statements to others which wrongfully refer to Nottingham Trent University and/or their employees and for any person or any body associated with Nottingham Trent University”

Meet Farooq Sher, Senior Lecturer at NTU’s Department of Engineering and a wannabe Ashutosh Tiwari with his own inept attempt to run a scamference business. What Sher has is not as fancy and money-bringing like Tiwari’s fantastical “International Association of Advanced Materials (IAAM)”, I mean, even the website of Sher’s International Society of Engineering Science and Technology (ISEST) is wonky.

There are also not that many ISEST predatory conferences going on, my advice for NTU is to advertise a bit more for Sher’s scams, if they want this joint fraudulent enterprise to financially succeed.

Just like Tiwari, Sher is searching for unpaid interns from Asia to slave for his private scamference business:

Here an idea: NTU invites Tiwari for a hands-on workshop for Sher and other NTU researchers interested in setting up a thriving scamference and predatory publishing business. Griffith can give a master-class on and growing your citation index with ahem, “international co-authorships”.

The Indefatigable Ashutosh Tiwari

Four years after Ashutosh Tiwari’s scamferences and research fraud were exposed, his impressive-sounding yet fictional “International Association of Advanced Materials”, or IAAM, still opens doors, hearts and wallets.

Btw, NTU informs us that

“Dr Farooq Sher has published more than 100 research papers, several conference papers, book chapters and editorials. Apart from this, he is the editor of more than 10 different multidisciplinary scientific journals. He has reviewed more than 1300 journal papers for several journals. He has been awarded a top reviewer for Engineering from Publons Academy in 2018.”

Just like with Tiwari, the science Sher publishes with his mates, is fraudulent. Have a look on PubPeer. For example:

Saba Sehar , Farooq Sher , Shengfu Zhang, Ushna Khalid , Jasmina Sulejmanović , Eder C. Lima Thermodynamic and kinetic study of synthesised graphene oxide-CuO nanocomposites: A way forward to fuel additive and photocatalytic potentials Journal of Molecular Liquids (2020) doi: 10.1016/j.molliq.2020.113494 

Another example:

Ossama Al-Juboori , Farooq Sher , Ushna KHALID , Muhammad Bilal Niazi , George Zheng Chen Electrochemical Production of Sustainable Hydrocarbon Fuels from CO2 Co-electrolysis in Eutectic Molten Melts ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering (2020) doi: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.0c03314

Thallarcha lechrioleuca: “Figure 8. Figure 8. Current−time curves resulting from the electrolysis performed in two different molten hydroxides at 2 V.
Could authors possibly explain repetitions?
Figure 8 and Figure 12 show identical curve. One for LiOH-NaOH at 2V and another for molten chloride at 3V. Are these curves supposed to be so similar? Several repeating patterns in other curves of Figure 12.

Here, with Sher’s wife as last author:

Saleem Ahmad , Zaib Jahan , Farooq Sher , Muhammad Bilal Khan Niazi , Tayyaba Noor , Honghao Hou , Ofaira Azhar , Emina Karahmet Sher Polyvinyl alcohol and aminated cellulose nanocrystal membranes with improved interfacial compatibility for environmental applications Environmental research (2022) doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2022.113793

Thallarcha lechrioleuca: “Figure 4 Three copies of one mother pattern and two patterns which are identical only for larger angle part but very different at lower angles.”

The university stopped all communication with me after I demanded they threaten me with lawsuits like they do to everybody else.

Jesus wept

Jesus Gil, Spanish-born cancer research professor at the Imperial College London, UK, retracts a paper.

David Bernard , Juan F Martinez-Leal , Sian Rizzo , Dolores Martinez , David Hudson , Tapio Visakorpi , Gordon Peters , Amancio Carnero , David Beach , Jesus Gil CBX7 controls the growth of normal and tumor-derived prostate cells by repressing the Ink4a/Arf locus Oncogene (2005) doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1208735

Previously, Gil commented on PubPeer in April 2022:

I have been recently made aware of this issue. The experiment was performed, and the figure was prepared by a researcher from a collaborator’s lab. Our collaborator’s lab found evidence of manipulation in Fig 1f and for this reason a retraction has been recommended to the journal.

The mistake in Figure 5a Gil attributed to the first author though. The retraction appeared on 17 October 2022:

“The authors have retracted this article because the authors noted that there were irregularities present in Figs. 1 and 5 within this article. In Fig. 1F it was noted that there are duplicated b-actin bands in the HMVEC and LNCAP lanes. In Fig. 5A the b-actin blot was found to be identical to the b-actin blot that is present in Fig. 2C from the following article [1]. David Bernard, Juan F. Martinez-Leal, Sian Rizzo, Dolores Martinez, David Hudson, Tapio Visakorpi, Amancio Carnero, David Beach and Jesus Gil agree to this retraction. Gordon Peters is deceased.”

I suggest to blame the first author here also:

Jesús Gil , David Bernard , Dolores Martínez , David Beach Polycomb CBX7 has a unifying role in cellular lifespan Nature Cell Biology (2004) doi: 10.1038/ncb1077 

In the correction the authors declared to have made an “error in figure assembly” and have swiftly found the correct actin gel for this three decade-old experiment. Or so they say.

In another case, a correction was cancelled by the journal, as Gil informed.

Jesús Gil, Preeti Kerai , Matilde Lleonart , David Bernard , Juan Cruz Cigudosa , Gordon Peters , Amancio Carnero , David Beach Immortalization of primary human prostate epithelial cells by c-Myc Cancer Research (2005) doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.can-03-4030

An editor’s note was issued in July 2022:

“We were informed by the authors that in Fig. 1B, the panels showing E7- and mdm2-expressing cells originated from the same picture of mdm2-expressing cells. In addition, in Fig. 2C, the Western blots showing hTERT and c-Myc expression were spliced but this was not indicated in the figure legend.”

Gil then explained on PubPeer:

I recently contacted Cancer Research to correct Figure 1B and Figure 2C. It is Cancer Research policy not to publish corrections to articles that are more than 10 years old and instead publishing an Editorial note.

The duplication in Figure B he said, was a “mistake”. But for Figure 2C, Gil provided this:

Gil: “These experiments were done in 3 phases: first individual gels for parental, htert and cmyc cells with multiple passages; later single gel including passage 4,6,8 for each; finally, a gel was run with the organization shown there (passage 4 and 6 for each). The images shown for the hTERT and cmyc western come from the second gel, the passage 8 lanes have been spliced out. The beta-actin images come from the third gel (that include only passage 4 and 6).

The explanation doesn’t really make much sense experimentally, this is probably the real reason the journal decided not to embarrass itself with such a correction. But in any case, the big and mighty London professor just admitted to have always run loading controls on a separate gel, against good scientific practice. He likely taught all his lab members to do the same. You just have to trust Gil and his lab to have equally loaded those uncontrolled gels.

Gil has a number of papers on PubPeer, he replied to all (or nearly all), and most concerns were corrected. Including a correction for a shady paper Gil published with Oliver Bischof (Martínez-Zamudio et al Nature Cell Biol 2020), who was just then sacked in Paris for research fraud. It was about statistics data which was forged, pardon “inadvertently copied“:

“The corrections lead to several, minor changes in the fold-change mean values that result in minimal alterations…”

Baillied out

Another retraction for another scientist in London.

K F Houslay, B A Fertig, F Christian, A J Tibbo, J Ling, J E Findlay, M D Houslay, G S Baillie. Phosphorylation of PDE4A5 by MAPKAPK2 attenuates fibrin degradation via p75 signalling, The Journal of Biochemistry, (2019), doi: 10.1093/jb/mvz016

S E McKinney: “Figure 3 (f) shows reuse of the same original image, with cropping, rotating and stretching, to represent “4A KO MEFs + PDE4A5 (S147A)” Untreated condition and Aniso + SB condition.

The retraction notice from 14 October 2022 stated:

“The corresponding author is retracting this article following an institutional investigation into the authenticity of the figures in the paper. The institution ultimately determined Figure 3 was not authentic and the scientific integrity of the article had been compromised.”

The retraction was announced by Retracton Watch in November 2021, referencing McKinney and Clare Francis. Later on, RW announced it will be 7 retractions, as University of Glasgow informed them. According to RW, the main culprit fingered by the University of Glasgow investigation is Miles Houslay, now professor at King’s College London, as per institutional profile:

“Until July 2011 he had held the Gardiner Chair of Biochemistry for 27 years at the University of Glasgow, where, before leaving, he was Chair of Neuroscience and Molecular Pharmacology and co-Director of the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology. […] He raised over £22 M in research grant funding at Glasgow University…”

The first author on the above paper is apparently Housley’s daughter Kirsty, who studied in Glasgow and now works in pharma industry. Her PhD mentor in Glasgow was the only scientist qualified: her dad. How can you take a university which allows this seriously?

Source: KF Housley’s LinkedIn

Houslay senior was also the mentor of George Baillie, who is now professor at the University of Glasgow. Houslay has 11 papers on PubPeer, most have Baillie as co-author. Yet Baillie is never mentioned in the RW articles, not even in passing.

Which is a pity. Even the whistleblower McKinney commented under the RW article:

The University of Glasgow should also look into publications by George Baillie who as Editor in Chief of Cellular Signalling is not interested in dealing with problems in his own paper.”

Magali Berthouze-Duquesnes , Alexandre Lucas , Aude Saulière , Yuan Yan Sin , Anne-Coline Laurent , Céline Galés , George Baillie , Frank Lezoualc’h Specific interactions between Epac1, β-arrestin2 and PDE4D5 regulate β-adrenergic receptor subtype differential effects on cardiac hypertrophic signaling Cellular Signalling (2013) doi: 10.1016/j.cellsig.2012.12.007 

Right, Frank Lezoualc’h, the cheater of Toulouse, I wrote about him. In science, cheaters are often revealed by their choice of collaboration partners.

No Time Toulouse!

These 3 molecular biologists from Toulouse should really consider to stop. In fact, one of them already switched to psychiatry, probably to forget the Photoshopped science he published.

The Houslay and Baillie duo even had to retract a paper for fraud before the Glasgow investigation.

Xiang Li , George S. Baillie , Miles D. Houslay Mdm2 directs the ubiquitination of beta-arrestin-sequestered cAMP phosphodiesterase-4D5 The Journal of biological chemistry (2009) doi: 10.1074/jbc.m109.008078 

The retraction was in response to PubPeer evidence and appeared in August 2020:

“This article has been withdrawn by the authors. The VSV loading gel immunoblot in Fig. 2G was re-used in Fig. 5D, and the VSV loading gel immunoblot in Fig. 6A was re-used in Fig. S1. The Journal determined that some of the peptide spots in Fig. 7 (C and D) are the same. However, the authors state that similarity is an inevitable occurrence of the robotic “spotting” system that will produce spots/droplets with similar ranges of characteristic shapes over the large panels created. The authors also state that they cannot observe any evidence of “cutting and pasting,” which they state would be easily observed had it occurred. Notwithstanding these issues, the authors stand by the central tenet of this article…”

Back in 2020, Baillie was very much busy helping his mentor with denying and covering up the fraud.

This paper by Houslay and Baillie was retracted in April 2022, and it did not help its co-author Robert Lefkowitz is the laureate of the 2012 Nobel Prize for chemistry, for the discovery of G-protein-coupled receptors. Lefkowitz also contributed the paper to PNAS to avoid peer review trouble:

George S. Baillie , Arvind Sood , Ian McPhee , Irene Gall , Stephen J. Perry , Robert J. Lefkowitz , Miles D. Houslay β-Arrestin-mediated PDE4 cAMP phosphodiesterase recruitment regulates β-adrenoceptor switching from G s to G i Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2003) doi: 10.1073/pnas.262787199 

The retraction notice was signed by Lefkowitz, Baillie and three other coauthors, but not Housley:

“We were informed by the University of Glasgow Research Integrity Council that, as part of a larger investigation of anomalies in a series of papers from one of their laboratories, it was found that lanes 2 and 3 of Fig. 4C are identical. While the data in this figure panel were obtained in myocardial cells, which are the sole focus of Fig. 4, the University of Glasgow did not identify irregularities in any other data presented in the paper, including the data obtained with HEK cells, which constitute the remainder of the data in the paper (Figs. 1–3). Nonetheless at the request of the University of Glasgow the paper is being retracted. We offer our apologies to the scientific community for any inconvenience this may have caused.”

But then again, Lefkowitz also collaborated on fraudulent papers with Leonard Girnita and Olle Larsson, the cheater duo of Karolinska:

Sure Houslay is a cheater, but bad science is a communal enterprise, even some Nobelists dip in it. And yet even Baillie seems to be protected by University of Glasgow, just like the partners of Irina Stancheva by the University of Edinburgh were. Stancheva was sacked, but in the Houslay -Baillie affair, it looks like despite the many retractions, nobody will lose their job. Except the possible whistleblowers maybe?

Edinburgh saves Bird men from clutches of Bulgarian Jezebel

Irina Stancheva was investigated in Edinburgh for fraud at least twice, in 2009 and 2017, yet retraction and correction decisions were not implemented. Apparently to protect the reputation of Nobel Prize candidate Sir Adrian Bird and his male mentees, primarily Richard Meehan. One wonders: how much of Bird research in past two decades was actually fabricated by Stancheva?

Retraction Watchdogging

New section where I will occasionally briefly mention new retractions. One more retraction in News in Tweets at the end.

Another one for Shapiro

6th retraction for the former dean of Marshall University Joseph Shapiro and his partners-in-crime, Nadir Abraham and Komal Sodhi, as reported by Retraction Watch.

Komal Sodhi , Kyle Maxwell , Yanling Yan , Jiang Liu , Muhammad A. Chaudhry author has email , Morghan Getty , Zijian Xie , Nader G. Abraham , Joseph I. Shapiro pNaKtide inhibits Na/K-ATPase reactive oxygen species amplification and attenuates adipogenesis Science Advances (2015) doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1500781


An editorial retraction was issued by editors Holden Thorp, Ali Shilatifard and Philip Yeagle on 19 October 2022:

“After publication of DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1500781 (pNaKtide inhibits Na/K-ATPase reactive oxygen species amplification and attenuates adipogenesis), concerns were raised by readers about several of the figures in the paper. In response in 2020, two of the figures (5C and S3) were acknowledged by the authors to be incorrect and corrections were presented by the authors to Science Advances. In 2022, in response to continued criticism of figures in the paper, the authors acknowledged errors in Figure 4. The editors have further unresolved concerns about other figures. The editors have lost confidence in the integrity of the data presentation in this paper. As a consequence, the editors of Science Advances have decided to retract this paper. Drs. Shapiro and Abraham and Sodhi have not agreed with the retraction. The other authors were non-responsive.”

Apparently, Joe Shapiro’s fraud was exclusively reported only by Retraction Watch and nobody else. FACT. Another FACT: it was surely Ivan Oransky and nobody else who reported Shapiro and his gang for research misconduct which now caused the retractions. Thank you, Ivan!

Bought authorships

Xinpo Sun, Reathab Abbass , Milad Ghoroqi, Indrajit Patra , Ngakan Ketut Acwin Dwijendra , Khusniddin Fakhriddinovich Uktamov , Hadeer Jasem Optimization of dyes and toxic metals removal from environmental water samples by clinoptilolite zeolite using response surface methodology approach Scientific Reports (2022) doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-17636-8

Nick Wise: “On the 6th of April an advert was placed on Facebook selling authorship of a paper with a very similar title to this one. The impact factor suggest the target was Materials Chemistry and Physics. […] The author contributions are intriguing. The experiments were carried out by I. Patra and N. Dwijendra, however one is based in Bengal and the other in Bali, where were the experiments carried out. The analysis was done by K. Uktamov, who is at an Economic Security Dept. in Uzbekistan. I am surprised that department has SEM and XRD capabilities.”

Retraction notice from 19 October 2022:

“Editors have retracted this Article.

After publication, concerns were raised about authorship and description of author contributions. The Editors requested the authors to provide raw original data and explanations regarding the contributions, but found the response provided by the Authors insufficient. The Authors were also not able to provide the data in the format that would allow for the confirmation of its veracity (i.e. including sufficiently detailed meta-data). The Editors therefore no longer have confidence in the reliability of the data presented in this Article.

None of the Authors responded to the correspondence from the Editors about the retraction.”

One more for Jacob

PLOS One retracts a paper by Samson T Jacob (found guilty of fraud and retired by Ohio State University), and that paper wasn’t even flagged on PubPeer.

Kalpana Ghoshal , Tasneem Motiwala , Rainer Claus , Pearlly Yan , Huban Kutay , Jharna Datta , Sarmila Majumder , Shoumei Bai , Arnab Majumder , Tim Huang , Christoph Plass , Samson T. Jacob HOXB13, a target of DNMT3B, is methylated at an upstream CpG island, and functions as a tumor suppressor in primary colorectal tumors PLoS ONE (2010) doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010338

Retraction notice from 19 October 2022:

“Following the publication of this article [1], the Ohio State University investigated the results presented in Fig 1 and concluded that the Fig 1A panel was produced by merging and reorientation of data from multiple different experiments, performed months apart, creating a composite Fig that did not represent the experimental conditions accurately. Following these findings, the institutional Committee recommended retraction of this article [1].”Following the publication of this article [1], the Ohio State University investigated the results presented in Fig 1 and concluded that the Fig 1A panel was produced by merging and reorientation of data from multiple different experiments, performed months apart, creating a composite Fig that did not represent the experimental conditions accurately. Following these findings, the institutional Committee recommended retraction of this article [1].

In addition to the institute’s findings, editorial reassessment of the article also raised concerns regarding the results presented in Fig 2B and Fig 3. Specifically, when adjusting the colour levels to visualise the background, there appear to be horizonal and vertical irregularities in the background of multiple panels presented in Fig 2B and Fig 3.

The authors provided repeat experiment data for the results presented in Fig 1A. However, these data were not sufficient to resolve the concerns pertaining to image fabrication that were confirmed by the institutional Committee. The original data underlying Figs 1, 2, and 3 either have not been provided for editorial review or are no longer available due to the time elapsed since the original experiments were conducted. In the absence of the original underlying data, the concerns with these Figs cannot be resolved.

In light of the inappropriate image manipulations affecting the Fig 1A results, and the unresolved concerns affecting multiple Fig 2B and Fig 3 panels that question the integrity of these data, the PLOS ONE Editors retract this article.

TM, CP, PY, and STJ agreed with the retraction. KG and SM responded but expressed neither agreement nor disagreement with the retraction. RC, HK, JD, SB, AM, and TH either did not respond directly or could not be reached. KG, TM, and STJ stand by the article’s findings.”

Scholarly Publishing

The Book of Smits

Robert-Jan Smits, former EU Commissioner, former EU envoy for Open Access and inventor of Plan S , wrote a book. We now learn that his Open Access mandate, which resulted in scholarly publishers bleeding science dry and earning now more than drug cartels thanks to exploding open access fees (€9500 for Nature family journals), was cryptically named Plan S after Smits himself.

Robert-Jan Smits & Rachael Pells Plan S for Shock: Science. Shock. Solution. Speed. Ubiquity (2022)

It is available in open access online so you won’t be tempted to use its pages as toilet paper. Especially since the foreword is by the Nobel Prize laureate Randy Schekman.

Nature published a review of Smits’ book, by Richard van Norden:

“In 2018, a group of influential research funders struck a blow in the decades-long fight to end paywalls in science. Peer-reviewed papers from research they supported must be made open access immediately on publication, they declared: free to read, download and redistribute.

This radical pledge, called Plan S, began to take effect last year. It is now supported by around two dozen funders, most in Europe. […]

In Plan S for Shock, Smits — now president of the executive board of Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands — and journalist co-author Rachael Pells emphasize that nothing less than a transformation of academia’s reward systems is needed to achieve full OA. The authors also introduce dozens of other viewpoints, from researchers, publishers (including Springer Nature, which publishes Nature) and non-academics frustrated that they can’t easily access the knowledge they need. The book is itself free to download: it is published by the OA Ubiquity Press in London, and Pells was paid for her time by OA publisher Frontiers, based in Lausanne, Switzerland. (Frontiers had a key role in encouraging Smits to introduce Plan S.)”

What? “Frontiers had a key role in encouraging Smits to introduce Plan S“??? This is a scandal, where does Rich van Norden and Nature have it from??? No source is provided though.

Because this is their source, from almost 4 years ago:

Updated: Frontiers helped Robert-Jan Smits design Plan S

I obtained from the EU commission evidence that Smits was at least strongly influenced by Frontiers while designing Plan S. There were meetings with Kamila Markram and other Frontiers representatives, most notably on 25 April 2018, and a string of emails, where Smits requested and received “Frontiers feedback on the transition to OA and APCs”. Updates at the end of this article supply evidence that not only Frontiers did advise Smits on Plan S from spring 2018 on, they were the only stakeholder to do so.

Back then, the academic and OA community agreed that I made it all up to smear Smits and his friend Kamila Markram, CEO of Frontiers.

But van Norden proved me wrong by pointing out to me what the original source of that exclusive information was, namely Smits’ new book, quote from there:

“There were other positive meetings in those early days, which kept Robert-Jan’s spirits high. Noticeably different was the meeting he had with Frontiers, an OA publisher based in Switzerland, the representatives from which were – no surprises here – very supportive of the plans. ‘The only thing they raised objection to was my plan to impose a cap on APCs,’ recalls Robert-Jan. ‘They tried to convince me to stop the idea, but I wouldn’t. At least, that was my intention.’ Frontiers turned out to be the only company willing to provide Robert-Jan with detailed answers to questions he asked of all the publishers he met with: what was the real cost of publishing an article? How much does it cost to conduct the peer review, formatting, graphs and tables, and so on? In the following week, Frontiers sent over a detailed cost breakdown. The fact that none of the other publishers wanted to provide this made Robert-Jan wonder what lay behind their resistance. It confirmed, however, what many had told him already: that the science publishing market was far from transparent.”

Plagiarism, I say! No seriously, what a pathetic character this Smits is, protected by his rich white male privilege, and therefore always falling upwards, even when he falls on his bum.

Plan S in chaos at Berlin APE conference

Plan S, designed by the former EU Commissioner Robert-Jan Smits, became a complete and chaotic mess where everyone, including the members of the signatory cOAlition S of research founders, does whatever they want. I learned all that while participating at the Academic Publishing Europe (APE) conference in Berlin, on 15-16 January.

Btw, I checked, Smits celebrates in his book his deceased Open Access associate, Jonathan Tennant. Who was expelled from all but one affiliation over charges of massive sexual harassment publicly raised by several victims, publicly apologised for his misdeeds and promised to learn from them (while his lawyer sister announced to sue his victims), and then returned to party with his trusty IGDORE mates in Bali, where he somehow died in a late night motorcycle accident.

The OA community, Smits included, obviously still loves and misses Tennant. Now imagine what I must have done to become hated and unmentionable by everyone there. Worse. Much worse, people, try again.

I wrote bad things about Frontiers.

Shekman in his forword celebrates Smits for crushign the journal metrics obession with his Plan S. In his book, Smits spekas in third person:

“‘No longer can the number of publications in subscription journals such as Science and Nature be used as a sole metric to measure academic output, since Plan S prescribes that all publications should appear in high-quality OA journals or on high-quality OA platforms.’ It is true that thousands of universities and individuals from around the globe have signed the now-famous Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), by which they commit themselves to improve research assessment practices and promise to move away from using journal-based metrics like impact factor. ‘But in practice there are only a few that have walked the walk,’ says Robert-Jan.”

Like his beloved Frontiers, which of course is a DORA signatory and prominently flaunts the impact factor for every journal. See here.

News in Tweets

  • Some journo thinks he has a scoop on the racist Bryan Pesta, who until now used to be employed Cleveland State University, where Pesta ran a lab with actual Nazis, Emil Kirkegaard and John Fuerst and published in Mankind Quarterly, a racist journal founded by actual Nazis. But Chronicle explains to you: “How Pesta got fired, and why it took so long, shows that racist pseudoscience can go unnoticed and unchallenged on a campus for years, even as it makes the rounds among lay readers. It also points to the difficulties faced by legitimate genetic scientists intent on protecting the reputation of their field.” Actually, academia is full of racists and eugenicists who share Pesta’s views, at least to a degree. Nothing “flew under the radar”, everyone knew, even I wrote about Pesta’s racist activities as MDPI’s Editor-in-Chief, protected by the journal’s new German chief editor. Those “legitimate genetic scientists intent on protecting the reputation of their field” are still eugenicists toying with racism, even if they believe themselves to be social justice warriors.

MDPI and racism

In 2019, MDPI published a Special Issue “Beyond Thirty Years of Research on Race Differences in Cognitive Ability”, one year later its owner Shu-Kun Lin expressed admiration for Trump and said “Black Lives Matter. White Lives Matter. All Lives Matter.”

  • Cool, a closed “Academic Freedom Conference” at Stanford, featuring far-right billionaire Peter Thiel, racists like Stephen Pinker, far-right propagandists like Lee Jussim, climate change denialists like Bjorn Lomborg, and covidiots like Jay Bhattacharya and John Ioannidis. Basically, the brown academic detritus which keeps floating to the top will once again gather to complain about “censorship and stifling debate”. Because they are being silenced and deplatformed everywhere, journalists are banned. Expect massive coverage in far-right media though.
  • Scientists should accept that they are Frontiers‘ private property.
  • MD Anderson’s multimillionaire, Ron DePinho , whowas paid more than $2 million as president of MD Anderson Cancer Center” and is now paid $1 million as a humble professor, celebrates his MD Anderson colleague and a fellow cheater, Anil Sood, on the occasion of Sood’s recent election to US Academy of Medicine. DePinho has 27 fraudulent papers on PubPeer, and Sood is a wholly different category of cheater all together (almost 60 fake papers on PubPeer). Sood was whitewashed by MD Anderson, and his whistleblowers were duly punished.

Anil Sood and how much MD Anderson doesn’t care: whistleblowers speak out

My earlier article presented the worrisome research integrity record at the gigantic US cancer research hospital MD Anderson Cancer Center, part of the University of Texas in Houston. Its particular focus was the ovarian cancer researcher Anil Sood, professor of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine and co-director of Center for RNA Interference and Non-Coding RNAs at MD Anderson.Continue Reading

  • Torturing small animals. PeerJ issued on October 18, 2022 an Expression of Concern:Concerns have been raised about the ethical approval and experimental protocol for this study. The Publisher is seeking more information from the authors and their institutional ethics committee.
  • Took them merely 8 years at Springer Nature. Retraction from 17 October 2022: “The Editor-in-Chief has made the decision to retract this article due to irregularities in Figs. 2, 3 and 4 and the lack of explanation from the authors regarding these concerns. The Editor-in-Chief, therefore, no longer has confidence in the integrity of the data in this article. None of the authors has not responded [sic!] to any correspondence from the editor/publisher about this retraction.
  • Two websites – Retraction Watch and Pubpeer – have emerged  to attempt to plug the holes in the leaky bucket of peer review.” (Cosmos) There are no other sites. Nothing. Full stop. Get off this evil website here, you stray sheep, and go back to reading Retraction Watch only. If it’s not reported there, it did not happen.
  • Now Retraction Watch triumphantly reports about an Expression of Concern Plos One issued for a paper by Elisabeth Bik‘s former employer, uBiome (now bankrupt after findings of financial fraud). She is one of middle authors of Almonacid et al 2017, her only declared contribution is listed among 8 other names for “review & editing”.


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10 comments on “Schneider Shorts 21.10.2022 – The Book of Smits

  1. Klaas van Dijk

    Hi Leonid, an apparently high-profile astronomer, a full professor, has been sent away at Leiden University. He is not anymore allowed to enter the university buildings and he is also not anymore allowed to contact anyone at Leiden University. This professor is however not sacked and he is as well not yet rertired. Leiden University is arguing that this full professor can continue with his research, and that he is still able to use Leiden University as affiliation for his publications etc. Readers of your blog might be interested in the name of this astronomer. See (in Dutch).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Klaas van Dijk

    The astronomer at Leiden University is Tim de Zeeuw, see for some backgrounds. His date of birth is 12 May 1956. This implies that the university will need to pay his salary until ultimately 12 December 2022. The age of retirement for people of his age is 66 years and 6 months. Such a retirement is mandatory, also for professors at Dutch universities.


  3. Klaas van Dijk

    This url at MPE does not exist anymore. Tim de Zeeuw is married with Ewine van Dishoeck,


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