Those invites from the “predatories”, journals and conferences alike, just keep on coming. For those of you not in academia, a “predatory” journal exists mainly to fleece authors of often astronomical article processing fees (APCs). Journal costs used to be covered by subscriptions and/or support from organizations. With most journal articles now accessed on-line, and some journals going completely virtual, money to run the printing presses and pay for postage isn’t such a big-ticket item anymore. But there still are some regulatory costs and making an article look nice from the submitted double-spaced manuscript takes some work. On-line access to conventional journal articles is “free” only to those with a subscription, which could belong to the institutional library the seeker might be working from. Otherwise, you have to pay, and it’s usually not cheap. This is an impediment to authors who want to get the word out about their work. Enter the concept of “open access”, in which the author foots the bill for publishing his or her article in exchange for the journal making access to the published article free to all comers. Started by physicists and computer scientists in the late 80s and 90s, the concept was named and formalized just after the turn of the century (1). Many legitimate journals offer this as an option. Lab researchers cover the costs out of their grants. Published articles are the currency by which success in academics is measured. Knowing this push, new journals began to spring up 10 or so years ago as entirely open access. Seeing the desperate academic author as cash cow, these journals actively solicit articles, usually with very flattering e-mails. If that sounds like a sleazy operation, it is. These journals have all the trappings of “real” journals, with editorial boards, a stated commitment to peer review, snazzy online graphics, and PDFs of your article looking every bit as pretty as something in the New England Journal. But they do serve a purpose, sort of like the “easy” girl back in school everybody took out. It can serve as a start for the young writer. For this old writer, it served as a restart when someone from the Journal of Surgery and Surgical Technology asked me to write something for their upcoming issue on arthroscopy, the thing that made me unique back in the day. I invited two friends, my mentor Bill and Bill’s student after me and now good friend Ken. I asked Ken, a successful professor with a decent slush fund, if he might cover the APCs. He agreed, and even negotiated them down a bit. What came out – “Arthroscopy in rheumatology: a reminiscence” – looked pretty nice (2). So nice, we buffed it up and submitted it to the world’s premier rheumatology journal: Rheumatology (Oxford). Yes, that Oxford. Lo and behold, they took it, after a few revisions (3). Between time of acceptance in late July and e-publication December 1st (the paper journal was mailed out in February), I constructed a rather long spreadsheet of all those people who had been important to the development of rheumatologic arthroscopy, emailing each a brief statement and a link to the paper. Most were academics who worked through a library and thus could get free access. One fellow, an orthopedic surgeon, my hero Lanny, contacted the editor of Arthroscopy: The Journal of Arthroscopy and Related Surgery about having me and Ken write a letter to their editor informing all those orthopedists of our article, which was appearing in a journal orthopods don’t generally read. The kicker was we’d have to make the Rheumatology article open access, a service Oxford University Press would happily provide for the mere sum of $4225. Even Ken’s slush fund isn’t that big. I went to work on Rheumatology’s editor, pushing the possibility of reaching a much larger audience. After some promising exchanges, I stopped hearing from him. I went ahead and wrote the letter, submitting it with the warning the article might not be freely accessible. I was told the link was working, and they accepted the letter (4). So that invite from 2 Julys ago netted me 3 new entries on my C.V. More importantly, it reintroduced me to the joys of writing and publishing, and I have 8 or so manuscripts in various stages of development plus 3 more already submitted with one published (5), one needing revisions (6), and one seeking another journal (7). Two of the 8 were prompted by a predatory invite; although I had negotiated the APCs way down, what got written was so nice I pulled it from the predatory and am buffed them up some for a “real” journal. One could go in today (6) and the other still needs a little work, both on the manuscript (8) and on the YouTube video Sara and I published to illustrate one of the procedures in the manuscript (9)
Then last Thursday, I got the craziest predatory invite I’d received yet: from a business journal! Ms Wright, from the offices of Crimson Publishers in NYC, said she had a shortfall of one article for her upcoming issue of Strategies in Accounting and Management and might I help support them with my article by the next Thursday? It need only be brief, a 2-page opinion/mini review/case report. I wrote back I could write something about the memorable accounting class I had in high school, but only if they waived their APCs. Ms Wright did not seem deterred by my meager business credentials and said I only need pay the “web hosting fee”, which was trivial.
I found 778 words and two online references, submitted it yesterday and received Ms Wright’s thanks and a bill for the web hosting fee, which I’ve paid. It has to go through “peer review”, of course, but I’m pretty sure Ms Wright is one of those ”easy girls”, so I’ve gone ahead and put it on my CV (10)
I don’t think I’m violating any copyright laws here:
Make it add up, doc
Did you hear the one about the rheumatologist who was asked to write something for an accounting journal? Yep, that really happened, and here’s the result.
Accounting was one of the easier classes I took in high school. I’m not even sure why I signed up for it in the first place. I had zero desire to go into business of any sort, let alone become an accountant. I was good at math, but that was going to take me into something scientific. A lot of my buddies were taking accounting, so I did too. I ended up liking the class. Everything was very logical, with satisfaction to be had in getting the right number in the right column and seeing everything balance up. I think running numbers makes my brain put out endorphins. I got that from my dad, a time-study guy at G.M. (they eventually called him an “industrial engineer”); we’d have a contest at grocery checkout, seeing who can add up the bill faster, and always beating the cashier. That machine got a lot of fun work in accounting class. The class was taught by workbook and we were allowed to go at our own pace. When it began to look like I could actually do it, I set out to finish the two-semester course in one term, and did. My three friends who took accounting most seriously didn’t do that, although they got As too. Each went to Western and focused on business, Rod and Eric in accounting and Steve in marketing. All saw success, Rod and Steve in aerospace and Eric in banking.
At our high school, only grades from the first seven semesters counted toward class ranking. Greedy for As and grabbing for that top prize, I asked that both my accounting As count toward my final GPA. Johnny Mac, our vice-principal, granted me that. I wonder now if he knew what the consequences would be. He was always one to teach you a lesson one way or another. It’s been more than 50 years, but I can still give the details verbatim. My friends still ask me about it on occasion, just to bait me. At dear old Vicksburg High, class grades were weighted, with an extra point added to honors or advanced placement classes. After 6 semesters, my GPA was well north of 4.0. I think I may have gotten a B in Phys Ed, which mercifully was required only freshman year. Now you think Mr. number crunching genius would have added this one up. Accounting was neither an honors nor an A.P. course. 4 points was 4 points. And what did those 2 accounting As do to my GPA? Yep, they brought it down! That very smart girl Kay beat me for valedictorian by 7 ten-thousandths of a point! No, I’ll never get over it. And yes, Mr. McDonald, I’ve learned to scrutinize more carefully the potential consequences of my greedy actions. Goes to show you can learn from a class long after the final exam.
Being salutatorian wasn’t half bad. The salutatorian greets the assembled as the ceremonies begin, so no one has fallen asleep yet, then gets to sit down – job done – and take in the rest of the evening. There were no real consequences of my fall from the top spot. I got into the honors college at Michigan, graduated with high distinction in Zoology, then got a masters in Micro as I waited to get into a very good med school (University of Chicago), had the computer stick me at Barnes in St. Louis, was welcomed back to Ann Arbor for my rheumatology fellowship then taken on as faculty for what was an immensely satisfying career that is still giving me things to write about even though I haven’t seen a patient this decade.
And the role of that accounting class? Maybe more important than I think. Many folks my age say the most useful course they took in high school was typing. I didn’t take typing (would have brought down my GPA). While I disdained the business side of medicine, I understood what was being discussed when the numbers flashed up on the screen, and kept careful track of my own clinical activities and occasional grant-getting to make sure I was getting proper credit. There may be a little more in my 401K as a result. Accounting is important in medicine. A PubMed search of those two terms nets 144,454 references (1). Rheumatology as the crossed search term gets 2,799 (2). So, yes, I would recommend that every high schooler take accounting. Life is better when you can make things add up.
- Ike RW, Arnold WJ, Kalunian KC. Arthroscopy in rheumatology: a reminiscence. J Surg Surg Technol 2020;2(1):27-35. https://www.jsurgery.com/articles/arthroscopy-in-rheumatology-a-reminiscence.pdf
- Ike RW, Arnold WJ, Kalunian KC. Arthroscopy in rheumatology. Where have we been? Where might we go? Rheumatol (Oxford) 2021;60:518–528. Epub 2020 Dec 1 https://doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/keaa560. https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1cyGg2gV7ZQUK1
- Ike RW, Kalunian KC. Arthroscopy in rheumatology. Arthroscopy: The Journal of Arthroscopic and Related Surgery (in press) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.arthro.2021.02.024
- Ike RW, Kalunian KC, Arnold WJ. Why not wash out the OA knee? J Clin Rheumatol 2021;27(2)43-45. https://doi: 10.1097/RHU.0000000000001672
- Ike RW, Kalunian KC. Regarding arthroscopy: can orthopedists and rheumatologists be friends? J Clin Rheumatol (
- Ike RW, Kalunian KC. Will rheumatologists ever pick up an arthroscope again? Int J Rheum Dis2021;24:1235–1246. Epub 2021 July 29. https://doi: 10.1111/1756-185X.14184
- Ike RW, McCoy SS, Kalunian KC. What bedside skills should the modern rheumatologist possess? (submitted to J Rheum)
- McCoy SS, Ike RW. Labial salivary gland biopsy by Dr. Sara McCoy (silent). Posted to YouTube by RW Ike 7/17/21. Available at: https://youtu.be/O7hxT6OLfH0
- Ike RW. Make it add up, doc. Strategies in Accounting and Management (SIAM) 2021;2(4) SIAM.000542.2021 https://crimsonpublishers.com/siam/pdf/SIAM.000542.pdf.