They say that dogs are man’s best friend, but should they also be medical advisers? Most definitely not.
Australian health expert Dr. Mike Daube decided to test how difficult it might be for anyone to review medical publications. With many people looking to medical journals for information on their health, Daube was interested in finding out how closely journals screen their authors and editors to ensure the material they’re reporting on is well-informed and correct. It turns out, you can have four legs and still wear a lab coat.
Daube created a fake profile for a local Australian academic named Dr. Olivia Doll, or as Daube calls her at home, Ollie, his Staffordshire Terrier. Calling it the “Dr. Doll Test,” Daube fabricated an academic background for Dr. Doll, hoping to expose the high number of what he calls ‘scam’ journals in existence.
Playing off Ollie’s actual life, Dr. Doll’s background was listed as a “senior lecturer at Subiaco College of Veterinary Science” and a former associate at the ‘Shenton Park Institute for Canine Refuge Studies,’ a dog refuge where Ollie, not Dr. Doll, once lived. Doll’s profile also included a slew of fake publications and a profile picture of Kylie Minogue on The Voice.
Dr. Doll’s fake credentials worked, with the five-year-old pup now sitting on the review board for seven international medical journals. She’s been asked to review (and not pee on) a paper on tumor management and has recently been named the associate editor of the Global Journal of Addiction and Rehabilitation Medicine. Clearly, there was absolutely zero fact-checking done to make sure Dr. Doll was a trustworthy medical authority.
Having academic work published is an important part of any doctor’s career, and physicians often need to pay even the most reputable journals to publish their work. Daube explained that he hopes for the Dr. Doll Test to inspire academics looking to be published in a journal to do some research before sending their money to anyone, with many journals charging upwards of $3,000 to be published.
“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,” Dr. Daube told Perth News.
Daube said that a simple search from any of these journals would have quickly resulted in learning that Dr. Doll was not a real person. Just goes to show that you can’t trust everything you read online.