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Dog 'Scientist' Sits on Editorial Board of Medical Journals

ollie the staffordshire terrier
Ollie the Dog is a Staffordshire terrier who sits on the editorial board of several medical journals. Her owner, Mike Daube, created a fake persona for Ollie to highlight the problems with shoddy journals. (Image credit: screenshot/<a href="">Perth Now</a>)

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.

Tia Ghose
Tia has interned at Science News,, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and has written for the Center for Investigative Reporting, Scientific American, and ScienceNow. She has a master's degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California Santa Cruz.