I recently received a run-of-the-mill spam that I should sign up for email updates from the Journal of Experimental Neuroscience. It is described as "an open access peer reviewed journal published by Libertas Academica".
Okay, what the heck, I'll visit the journal website to find out it isn't indexed in PubMed so, no thanks. But let's check on the Editorial Board (ok, at least couple of names most everyone would know) and do a little check on the Editor in Chief to make sure he's a scientist, not a professional editor.
The bio lists Raphael Pinaud as "an Associate Professor in the Department of Neurobiology at Northwestern University, USA" so let's look at the Department listing for Core Faculty and Research Faculty. Nothing. Courtesy faculty? Emeritus?
Ok, weird. No sign of the guy. Google search seems to turn up validation that he was once there.
On to RePORTER!
Interesting. So the journal EIC bio page did mention two prior faculty appointments that I originally missed. The RePORTER record puts a grant timeline on this. Lets reconstruct.
The 7R01DC010181-03 award is the only one at Northwestern. The "7" type code indicates a switch of University and it went there for the 2012 Fiscal Year. Okay, the first year of funding was at University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center starting from August 15, 2010. The end date for the total award is listed as July 31, 2015, your typical 5 year R01. But we're in 2014. Hmm, the latest year for this award says that it ended Feb 15, 2013. Odd.
It is odd to end in the middle of an award year to me. If someone dies or takes another job or something it is frequently the case that the University and the IC will just run out the existing award. There are usually some students, postdocs or collaborators finishing up projects or whatnot. And it is just so bloody convenient to fit into the regular University accounting.
I did notice that this guy had another institutional change code 7R21DC010033-03. The original award funded at University of Rochester which has a writeup on one of the guy's papers. The R21 originally ran from June 15, 2009 to May 31, 2011 and the jump-code award started Sept 1, 2010 and expired May 31, 2012. So a move in year 2 followed by a no-cost extension, no doubt.
Not sure exactly when Pinaud got appointed at U. Rochester but an alumni blurb from his postdoctoral lab suggests in 2007.
Hmm. "Frankland" Lab, eh? That name is on the Editorial Board list for this spammy journal. And for that matter, that oddly spelled name "Liisa" drew my attention on the Editorial Board as well, it popped up on the University of Rochester PR bit. And presumably this is the guy's spouse going from the consistent co-publication record.
Ok, now we're starting to make some sense.
The Editorial board lists Liisa Tremere as "Assistant Professor, Department of Neurobiology, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA". The U. of Rochester splash on the paper as "Liisa Tremere, a research assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences". Clearly this is a dual hire situation. A couple working their way until they both get tenure track faculty appointments. Perfectly understandable.
But what was up between Sep 2010 and Aug 2012 at University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center?
Well, it looks like Tremere was put on some existing P20 center funding there. Aha, Google to the rescue. "In September of 2010, Dr. Tremere joined the faculty of OUHSC as a tenure-track Assistant Professor."
Ok, ok, I can see this. A couple in science plays the multiple-job search game to reach their goal of two tenure track positions. One jump moves the more-junior person up to Assistant Professor and they soon leverage this into another move- who knows, maybe for the culture or family proximity or something. Anyway, this explains the departure from University of Rochester and the brief stay in Oklahoma. Pretty understandable stuff.
But after less than two years they...disappear? With an R01 terminated in the middle of a year of funding instead of running to the end of an award interval?
That part is weird.
Why do all this academic career climbing, appear to pull off an amazing dual-career triumph and then just....bail.
I am perplexed.
Is being an Editor in Chief at a Libertas Academica title some sort of amazing paying gig?
update: Tremere and Pinaud have had a paper retracted.
See predatory journal list from Jeffrey Beal. The spouse and the postdoctoral advisor of the EIC on this journal Board do not help with the impression of dodginess.