Academic journal falls for prof's prank...and the prof gets in trouble

Boghossian and his partners successfully published seven fake articles. Seven others were rejected.

Portland State University professor Peter Boghossian and a small team set out to test the legitimacy of academic journals by submitting fake articles.

A professor involved in a hoax meant to test the bias of the academic community is now facing disciplinary actions from his employer and accusations of research misconduct.

 After a Campus Reform investigation led the journal Gender, Place, and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography  to question the validity of a viral article it published about “rape culture” in Portland dog parks, the piece was revealed to be part of a larger hoax. A team of researchers who banded together to test the editorial standards of various academic journals submitted several bogus papers, including one that was simply a section of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, rewritten with various academic buzzwords.

Portland State University professor Peter Boghossian and his partners successfully published seven fake articles in the academic. Seven others were rejected. Boghossian was the only one of the three hoaxing researchers who was also a full-time university employee. However, he says that may change, as PSU’s Institutional Review Board has now accused him of committing research misconduct, according to a report by Inside Higher Ed.

 [RELATED: Academic journal duped by author of ‘dog rape culture’ article]

The school’s IRB claims that Boghossian and the other two researchers’ plan to dupe journals constituted research involving “human subjects” and IRB policy dictates that researchers should obtain “informed consent” from these subjects, reported Fox News.


“An IRB protocol application should have been submitted to the Office of Research Integrity,” the IRB stated. “University policy requires that all research involving human subjects conducted by faculty, other employees and students [on campus] must have prior review and approval by the IRB.

But Boghossian argues that this accusation from his employer is nothing other than retaliation against him. In a statement obtained by Inside Higher Ed, he said that Portland State, “like many college campuses, is becoming an ideological community.”

“I’ve demonstrated that I don’t fit the mold,” he added. “I truly hope the administration puts its institutional weight behind the pursuit of truth but I’ve been given no indication that’s what they intend to do.”

[RELATED: Liberal bias is hurting academic research, prof warns]

Boghossian said in the above video that he believes the powers that be at Portland State “will do anything and everything in their power to get me out,” calling these misconduct accusations “the first shot in that.”

About a dozen other Portland State employees spoke out against Boghossian in an anonymous letter to the school’s student newspaper. 

“The ‘hoaxes’ are simply lies peddled to journals, masquerading as articles,” they wrote. “They are designed not to critique, educate or inspire change in flawed systems, but rather to humiliate entire fields while the authors gin up publicity for themselves without having made any scholarly contributions whatsoever.” 

“Chronic and pathological, unscholarly behavior inside an institution of higher education brings negative publicity to the institution as well as the honest scholars who work there,” the letter continues. “Worse yet, it jeopardizes the students’ reputations, as their degrees in the process may become devalued.”

[RELATED: Academic conference to explore ‘effeminophobia’ among men]

Campus Reform reached out to the university for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @celinedryan