Fakery in alumni brochures and chemical websites


There I was, sipping a glass of something cold on the terrace of the House of Lords at an alumni reception, the sun slipping gently behind the curve of the London Eye, the Thames drifting lazily by, in whimsical reminiscence with the Master of the college (a pleasant lady with unusually long hair) and my husband, against a blue sky and a picture postcard backdrop, when an official photographer captured the moment forever. How nice, I thought, something to remember the evening by.

And now the photo has turned up in the glossy alumni fundraiser brochure. It’s on the website. It is misleadingly placed in the section “Alumni Support”. Its context says clearly: “Look at these normal people being thanked by the Master of the college for their magnificent donation. You too can be feted in grand surroundings if you just whip out that chequebook and dash off a handsome cheque to the university now.”

I am aggrieved at the trickery which is clearly afoot now in all walks of life – not just in academia, which has a long history of this kind of stuff – but also, and you will scarcely credit this, in the faking of chemical information websites.

Hardly a month passes by without some new fake ICIS website coming to light. Our editors often find their articles, and even my blog postings, turning up on Indian or Dutch websites. When I was in Moscow a few years ago, I was shown a Russian website called www.platts.ru, which was a completely unauthorised version of Platts in the Russian language (it’s been withdrawn now).

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