Friday, April 12, 2019

"Fully Published" or "In Press"? My search for an elusive UK medical journal leads to a recent $50m court judgement against a "predatory publisher" [UPDATE: After I published this item yesterday then sent it to the UK journal, they updated their website which now shows the article about the ten LifeVac choking rescue cases as published last year!]

Via today's Wikipedia entry for Pulsus Group

As Sidebar readers know, one of my research/reporting interests is anti-choking devices that have been marketed over the decades.

One such product is the LifeVac, a widely-marketed suction device that's the brainchild of Arthur Lih (pronounced "Lee") of Massapequa, NY.


Via After son's choking death, Fennimore [WI] family hopes to prevent further tragedy by Bennet Goldstein, Dubuque (IA) Telegraph Herald, February 16, 2019:
Each [LifeVac] unit sells online for about $70.

...The Wisconsin Department of Health Services approved use of the device by the Fennimore Volunteer Rescue Squad last year.
Per this tweet, I caught a factual error in the story and requested a published correction. (Executive Editor Amy Gilligan agreed and corrected the error.)

In reply, Matthew Banagan of LifeVac Europe Ltd. in Devon, England informed me that an article about the LifeVac saving 11 lives had been published by a medical journal called the International Journal of Clinical Skills (IJOCS).

I appreciated his tip and was curious to learn more because a few years ago I blogged an item about the LifeVac's first three claimed rescues of residents at this 44-bed nursing home located in a small town north of Swansea, Wales.

Here's the article to which Mr. Banagan directed me.

The four authors (whose listed affiliation is a gastroenterology clinic in New Hyde Park, NY) describe 10 -- not 11 -- case reports in which the LifeVac saved the lives of choking victims: the three at the nursing home in Wales...

...and seven other cases in the US, UK, Spain, and Greece.

The article by Saperstein et al is undated and a few clicks around the IJOCS website led me here.

Via a 2013 RetractionWatch item, journal publishing powerhouse Elsevier defines "in press" as "articles that have been accepted for publication but which have not been formally published and will not yet have the complete volume/issue/page information."

So has the LifeVac article been published or not?

According this tweet last week by LifeVac's US office (in Nesconset, NY), the article is "fully published."

That may be accurate, but in order to report the story, I needed to verify it with the journal.

Doing so should have been a simple task.

Instead I found myself on a trail that led to more questions -- and a recent $50 million court judgement involving the journal's former publisher.  

First, according to the IJCOS website and other sources, the most recent issue was published in January 2018.

In 2017 they'd published six issues, so why no issues in the past 15 months?

Next, via the IJOCS home page:

Clicking the word Scopus led me to this page:

The IJOCS website doesn't include the journal's mailing address, phone number, or e-mail addresses for any of the editors, none of whose professional affiliations are provided.

Here's a screenshot of the masthead I took a few days ago with my yellow-highlighting:

The most recent proper masthead I was able to locate was from a January 2015 issue with a London address, phone/fax numbers, and no shortage of e-mail addresses:

Here are the responses to some of my e-mails:


Last week I got in touch with Sally Richardson NMC RCN (yellow-highlighted on the first masthead) via Kingston University and St George’s University London where she's an Associate Professor in the School of Nursing.

In response to my inquiry about the LifeVac article, she replied that she didn't have contact information for any of the other editors on the masthead and that:
My name shouldn’t be on this list as I haven’t been part of this journal for many years and will have my name removed. 
Here's a screenshot of the IJOCS masthead today sans Prof. Richardson:

Then things got really interesting.

According to this web page, the IJOCS is published by

Clicking the "Contact Us" link leads to:

Via $50-million fine for predatory publisher that swallowed up Canadian science journals by Tom Spears, Ottawa Citizen, April 4, 2019:

Adding to the mystery, Pulsus's current online roster of journals doesn't include IJOCS:

Via The Wayback Machine, the most recent archived version of the same page that includes IJOCS is dated July 27, 2017:

Finally, the IJOCS website identifies the current issue as December 2017 but links to an active Twitter account...

 ...which last month tweeted about the LifeVac article. I multi-tweeted some questions but I haven't received a reply.

To be continued...

UPDATE 4/13/19: On April 10, I sent an e-mail with questions to two e-mail addresses for Pulsus Group that I found on their website: or (Incidentally, if the site includes any staff names or job titles, I couldn't find them.)

Yesterday after I posted this item, I received the following e-mail from the address
Dear Peter,

Greetings from International Journal of Clinical Skills..

This is to acknowledge you that we have received your query from our editors regarding a published article in our "International Journal of Clinical Skills" and that is about "Successful Use of a Novel Device Called the Lifevac ton Resuscitate Choking Victims World-wide Results" and it is the published content regarding a life saviour device called Life Vac.

So kindly let us know your query regarding this so that i can help you out in the best possible way.


Aviron R
Journal Coordinator
International Journal of Clinical Skills
To which I same-day replied:
Aviron R
Journal Coordinator
International Journal of Clinical Skills

Dear Aviron R,

Thank you for your e-mail today (copied below my signature) and your offer to help me.

I'd appreciate your answers to some quick questions for an item I'm reporting on my blog as a follow-up to this item I blogged today

1) What is your full name?

2) What is the mailing address and phone number for the office of the International Journal of Clinical Skills (IJOCS)?

According to your journal's website this is the current list of editors on the Executive Board.
 3) Is this list accurate? If so, would you please provide me with a mailing address, phone number, and e-mail address for Editor-in-Chief Dr Humayan Ayub?
4) If the list is not accurate, would you please provide me with an accurate list? Also, would you please provide the name, mailing address, phone number, and e-mail address of the current Editor-in-Chief?

5) What is the name and job title of the Pulsus Group representative who forwarded to you my 10 April 2019 e-mail (copied below)? If you don't have that information, I wish to locate Pulsus Group's media representative. Would you please provide me with the name and e-mail address of any Pulsus Group employee whom I can contact?

Thanks again for your kind offer to assist and I look forward to receiving your answers. Questions for me? Just ask.

Cheers, Peter
Click here for the correspondence (which I'll update if/when I hear back from Aviron R).

I haven't received a reply yet, but this morning I checked the IJOCS website and it's been updated to show another undated issue of the journal published in 2018. That issue includes the LifeVac article by Saperstein et al which has been removed from the journal's "In Press" page.

Here's a screenshot I took yesterday from the journal's archives page:

Here's a screenshot this morning from the same page:

Click the Volume 12, Issue 2 link and it takes you to:

Long story short, the now "fully published," peer-reviewed IJOCS article by Saperstein et al (from the New Hyde Park, NY gastroenterology clinic) that describes the ten choking rescue cases in Wales, the US, the UK, Spain, and Greece is available by clicking here.