Junk from Thomson Scientific.

I like Web of Science a great deal. Nearly every paper published in at least the last 20 years is listed, and there are several extremely helpful tools like links to papers cited in and by any given article, total citation numbers, and citation alerts sent via email. It’s incredible.

I dislike scientific junk mail a great deal. It comes in two varieties, as with regular junk mail: electronic and snail. Jonathan Eisen has registered his frustration about the growing flood of solicitations, most of which, as I also have noted, are completely useless. It’s irritating.

Thomson Scientific is behind Web of Science — and, evidently, a lot of the junk mail.

I reprint here an email that went around this morning on the EvolDir, from Steve Jordan of Bucknell University:

Dear Colleagues,

A few years ago I began to receive many email and paper mail advertisements at my work addresses from companies selling scientific products. Most of these messages were of no interest to me, and their numbers have increased to the point of becoming a nuisance.

It turns out that Thomson Scientific (the Web of Science and Science Citation Index people) may be behind this flood of spam and junk mail that many of us receive. Thomson offers a product called “Scientific Direct” that harvests author contact information from the papers that we publish and sells it to marketers.

Here is a description from their website:

The Process is Simple. First, you consult with one of our list selection experts to create highly focused profiles. These profiles are then run against the multidisciplinary Thomson Scientific database. The resulting names are sent to you in the form of postal addresses or e-mail addresses, chosen carefully from the more than 500,000 international authors who have published papers in the top scientific, peer-reviewed journals.

I was disappointed to read this. I have never provided my contact information in a scientific paper with the goal of it being used to send me spam or thousands of pages of worthless and wasteful paper catalogues.

If you wish to contact Thomson about this practice, I suggest beginning here:


or here: customsales@thomson.com

Please let me know if you get a reply.