Editor, suspicious of medical journal, submits case report based on Seinfeld episode — and gets it published

John H. McCool, the founder and senior scientific editor of Precision Scientific Editing, is on a "personal mini-crusade against fake scientific journals." To prove that publisher MedCrave will "print fiction for a price," Mr. McCool wrote a bogus article based on an episode of Seinfeld, and soon after the report went to print.

"I'm not a physician, much less a urologist. But I am an editor of scientific writing who has a strong antipathy for predatory journals. I'm also a Seinfeld fanatic," Mr. McCool wrote in an op-ed in The Scientist. So when MedCrave Group's Urology & Nephrology Open Access Journal invited him to submit a paper, Mr. McCool took the opportunity to expose the "dubious" journal, he said.

He wrote a "case report" about a man who suffers from a made up condition called "uromycitisis poisoning," which was inspired by the 1991 Seinfeld episode called "The Parking Garage," in which Jerry Seinfeld urinates against the wall in a parking garage because he can't find his car. Mr. Seinfeld is caught by a security guard and tries to avoid a citation by claiming he suffers from a condition called uromycitisis, and argues he could die if he doesn't relieve his bladder whenever nature calls.

Mr. McCool wrote the report under the name Dr. Martin van Nostrand, the physician alter-ego of Cosmo Kramer, and included other references to Seinfeld throughout, such as the fake institution where the authors worked — the Arthur Vandelay Urological Research Institute.

"Basically, I wrote the manuscript in a style as close to a real case report as I could, except that it was 100 percent fake," Mr. McCool wrote in The Scientist.

"A simple Google search for 'uromycitisis' or 'Martin van Nostrand' returns thousands of references to Seinfeld," he wrote. "Checking just one of the 'papers' I included in the manuscript's reference section, the editors or reviewers could easily have determined it was fabricated." However, Mr. McCool said a representative at Urology & Nephrology Open Access Journal informed him the report had been sent out for peer review, and a few days later it was accepted with requests for a few minor revisions. The journal also requested a "nominal" payment of $799 plus tax, which Mr. McCool said he did not pay. His report was published on the journal's website on March 31.

"My short-term goal is to expose MedCrave as a publisher that will print fiction, for a price. My long-term goal — an ambitious one, I know — is to stop the production of predatory journals altogether," wrote Mr. McCool.

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