Bad "scholarly article" needed for information literacy classes

Nancy Bellafante nbellafante at DCCC.EDU
Tue Mar 10 09:05:26 EDT 2015

Have you explored Retraction Watch?...many examples of retracted
scholarly papers:
The blog has a "Best of" category: 

Nancy Bellafante
Reference Librarian
Liaison for Communication, Arts, & Humanities
(  |  CAH Newsletter
Delaware County Community College
Learning Commons, Marple Campus, Room 4574 
610-359-5249 direct
610-359-5272 fax
>>> John M Hubbard <hubbardj at UWM.EDU> 3/9/2015 7:21 PM >>>

10-15 years ago it was all the rage for librarians--who arguably felt
threatened by the web--to point at silly and dubious websites (the Nazi
MLK site being the most famous example). This unfortunately promoted a
more binary way of thinking about trustworthy and non-trustworthy
sources than is warranted, so it's nice to see this question being asked
about bad scholarly articles.
There's been research fraud published in almost all scientific
disciplines (global warming, cloning, cold fusion), driven by those with
an axe to grind or researchers who fall under the pressure to find
something publishable other than negative results. Recent cases
involving Chris Kyle and Brian Williams are other non-scholarly
I'm not sure these exactly fit the "unintentionally bad grammar" rule,
but I would nominate two articles as worth a look:
Written in jest as by a physicist as a "sting" against the vernacular
of social science, and accepted by a peer-reviewed Sociology journal.
Flashpoint for the anti-vax movement. That's a lot more serious than
people believing there was a $250 cookie recipe.
More info is available here:
John Hubbard
Web Services and Electronic Resources Coordinator
UWM Libraries Webmaster
University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
Golda Meir Library W130F
From: Web technologies in libraries [mailto:WEB4LIB at LISTSERV.ND.EDU] On
Behalf Of Stacy Pober
Sent: Monday, March 9, 2015 4:27 PM
Subject: [WEB4LIB] Bad "scholarly article" needed for information
literacy classes

I'm looking for an example of a badly written pseudo-scholarly article
to use as an example in an info literacy class. 


For years, I used a badly written veterinary article that was on the
website of a manufacturer of herbal supplements. It claimed to be a
report of the results of a double-blind study of their products as used
to treat a particular disease but it described a terribly designed study
which was not even single-blinded.  It had no bibliography.  It used
some of the buzzwords of academia and was co-authored by two
veterinarians and the owner of the supplement company. It was a very
good example of very awful pseudo-academic writing.  


Alas, the company has taken the article down from the web. 


Does anyone have some similarly bad articles they can suggest using?  I
am not looking for articles that are written just to prove that one can
write badly, and I don't want one of those articles written by an
automatic paper generating program.. I know there are some of those on
the web. I want one that is bad but written by people who sincerely
thought they were writing a good research article.  


The article I used to use was chosen partly because of the large number
of people who linked to it from other websites.  Those other sites were
linking to it because they believed it. They were not using it as a bad



Stacy Pober
Information Alchemist
Manhattan College Library
Riverdale, NY 10471
stacy.pober at

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