I published a fake paper in a "peer-reviewed" journal

The U.S.-China Education Review A & B, ostensibly a pair of monthly journals of education research, had dug up a conference presentation of mine about extracurricular science learning. They wanted me to send them a manuscript about that research, which they claimed they would publish a few weeks later if it met their editorial standards and passed a “rigorous” independent peer review involving at least two reviewers. Instead, I concocted seven pages of flapdoodle, including references — loosely following the plot of the TV series “Breaking Bad” — about the educational value of high school students driving into the desert and making drugs.

The paper was ridiculous. I claimed that New Mexico is part of the Galapagos Islands, that craniotomy is a legitimate means of assessing student learning, and that all my figures were made in Microsoft Paint. At one point, I lamented that our research team was unable to measure study participants’ “cloacal temperatures.” Any legitimate peer reviewer who bothered to read just the abstract would’ve tossed the paper in the garbage (or maybe called the police). That is, if they even got past the title page, which listed my coauthors as “Breaking Bad” lead characters Walter White and Jesse Pinkman.

True to their word, a few weeks after my submission, an editor let me know my article made it through peer review and was published. (It’s still online here despite my not having paid the $520 publishing fee.) I was floored.