To Catch a Predator – PT Version

Halloween has come and past, however it seems that there is still a “spookiness” in the air.   Word on the street is that manual therapy can raise the dead.

For those that have seen the recent issue of JOSPT probably have seen the editorial published by our friends Chad Cook, Josh Cleland and Paul Mintken.  The title: “Manual Therapy Cures Death: I Think I Read That Somewhere.”   Interesting.

Their publication expands on the predatory journal industry.  As someone new to submitting manuscripts for publication, I had started to read about these a year or so ago.  Before that, I didn’t know these even existed, but they are out there – over 9000 of them – waiting to publish whatever you write for a fee.  Don’t believe me?  Check this list out here – it is shocking.

These predators clearly are out there.

Cook and colleagues submitted a manuscript to one of these journals.  Check it out here.  I have to say, it was one of the funniest publications I have read.  Just check out some of the details.  As any good researcher should do, they used the TSA guidelines for traveling with fluids to improve reporting standards.  The patient was dead, however brought back to life with the excellent results of a lumbar thrust manipulation (performed 250 times).

All I could think about was…


Cook et al essentially performed a “sting.”  They were the Chris Hasen in the publishing world – catching a predator in the act.  To catch a predator took on a new meaning for me and I never thought it would be something related to the scientific world.

I also never thought that reading about the dead rising in a published article would occur in my professional PT career, but this example shows just how easy it is to “publish” stuff like this.

Whether you are looking to publish or reading published literature, I think there are several take homes for us to consider:

  1.   Have a good understanding of the journal you are submitting to or reading.  If it seems sketchy, follow your gut.
  2.   When in doubt, check out Beall’s list of predatory journals.
  3.   Critically appraise the literature.
  4.   Question what you read.  Hell, you should be questioning what I am writing here.  Check my sources, question my perspective.  With social media, the spread of mis-information comes easily.

I guess we should all do as our parents always said: “Don’t take candy from strangers!”


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