A Staffordshire terrier named Ollie has an unusual second job — he moonlights on the editorial board of seven different medical journals.
Ollie's nom de plume is Dr. Olivia Doll, and according to her CV, she's an expert in "canine massage" and holds a degree from Subiaco College of Veterinary Science.
No, the pit bull isn't the smartest dog on the planet – he's simply the product of a broken system. Ollie's owner is Mike Daube, a public health researcher at Curtin University in Perth, Australia, reported Perth Now. Daube used Ollie's alter ego Dr. Doll to test how carefully scientific journals vet their reviewers and editorial boards. (Science journals typically ask experts in the field, called peer reviewers, to read submitted articles for their impact on the field, and those on the editorial board are a step up from the basic peer reviewer.)
That answer, for less reputable journals at least, was not carefully at all.
Daube dreamed up the Staffie's credentials — including past work at Shenton Park Institute for Canine Refuge Studies, aka the dog shelter, and expertise in the role of "domestic canines in promoting optimal mental health in ageing males" — then submitted her name as a reviewer to multiple journals. Several accepted Doll's credentials. In her stint as editor, Doll has shared her expertise on topics as disparate as respiratory medicine, psychiatry and drug abuse, Perth Now reported. Some have even published a photo of Doll (actually Kylie Minogue wearing glasses), according to the article. [Photos: Hilarious Animal Antics]
While reputable journals usually scrutinize a scientist's credentials and research, some journals charge exorbitant fees in exchange for publishing almost any papers submitted by scientists. Ollie has revealed just how shoddy the vetting practice is at some of these pay-for-publish journals, Daube said.
"While this started as something lighthearted, I think it is important to expose shams of this kind which prey on the gullible, especially young or naive academics and those from developing countries," Daube told Perth Now.
Originally published on Live Science.
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Tia is the managing editor and was previously a senior writer for Live Science. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, Wired.com and other outlets. She holds a master's degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington, a graduate certificate in science writing from UC Santa Cruz and a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Tia was part of a team at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that published the Empty Cradles series on preterm births, which won multiple awards, including the 2012 Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism.