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Scientists = surveyed customers? Bite me.

Science is good business. Especially since the public hand pays for most of it, via salaries and research grants, library conscriptions ensuring high profits for science publishers, providing infrastructure and – at least in western welfare states – students. An invitation for a customer survey.
As a (former and tax-paid) scientist, I still get a lot of scam mails. Most are from predatory publishers and organisers of fake science conferences in poorly booked tourist places, which are obviously not worried about the coronavirus epidemy. In France and an increasing number of German states, we have a shutdown for all assemblies of more than 1000 people, but my "esteemed" presence as a guest speaker would still "honour" the organisers of some medical conference hosted e.g. at the Blue Lagoon Resort in Turkey. Oddly, I never was on a medical conference, maybe because I researched mainly on living but also long dead plants.



A few are from pushy semi-predatory publishers offering me to e.g. have my own edited paper collection or pay a modest fee for an e-book of my liking (for more on the nasty business of publishing research, see my #FightTheFog, scam and science-related categories).

This time, I got something new: an invitation to partake in a Confirmit survey. Not for vain but for a good deed.
Dear Dr Guido Grimm,

This is an invitation to take part in a short survey that aims to understand the opinions of researchers in the scientific and medical fields on available online services. You are being contacted as an active, published researcher to ask for your perspective on the services available to you, and how they support your research activities.
Active research, really? Just check my homepage, there's a counter telling you how much days I'm out-of-science. Even when active, if somebody wanted my perspective on (usually highly profitable) services around science, that company could have asked me without hiding behind a survey service and sent a check, or, at least, a voucher for the next open access bill (which, with traditional big publishers easily amounts to 3000+ bucks). We scientists are already working for them for free as authors, reviewers, and editors, and make sure somebody pays for reading what we researched.
Your feedback is very valuable [this, I believe, most literally], it would be greatly appreciated if you could spare approximately 10-15 minutes to complete this survey [Never].

As a token of gratitude for your time, for each completed interview a charitable donation of US$2 will be made. You will be able select from a list of charities (UNICEF, Save the Children, Médecins Sans Frontières, Debra UK and Alex’s Lemonade Stand) at the end of the survey.
How tiny can tokens be? The hourly gross salary of a post-doc in Austria, my last station as a professional scientist, is about US$30 (a Ph.D. title only pays off, when not working as a scientist; note that this is already a relatively high salary for a post-doc, globally speaking), so technically it should be at least US$5. But that would still be peanuts: Last year, one of the world biggest science businesses (RELX Plc, who owns the science pubisher and service provider Elsevier) proudly reported an operative profit of 2.1 billion £. Why not make your client give 1% of what you are paid for providing the survey service? 
To start the survey please click ONCE on the link below:

Click here to begin

The sponsor of this study will be revealed at the end of the survey as we do not wish to bias responses at the start.
Bite me! Bias? Rather, the name the sponsor may undermine the willingness of (actual) scientists to partake in the survey, even though some charity gets some 10k.
The research is being carried out under the terms of the Market Research Society Code of Conduct, and all data associated with it is being stored and processed securely. Participation in this survey will not lead to any sales or marketing follow up, and no individual (or organization) will be identified in our reporting unless they give their explicit consent. Otherwise responses will be kept strictly confidential.

Please do not reply to this email as the inbox is not monitored [of course it isn't]; if you have any questions or technical issues about the survey, please let us know here.

Thank you very much for your time. Your input is very important to help services better support researchers. [i.e. to squeeze more money out-of-them and, ultimately, the public hand]

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If you would like to opt-out of mailings in relation to this research project, please click here.

Please do not reply to this e-mail as the inbox is not monitored [it says so already in the normal script]. If you are having trouble with this survey you can let us know here and we will address any technical problems as quickly as we can.

The survey is powered by Confirmit, world leading data collection platform. The data is securely stored on servers in the US. Confirmit is certified for Enterprise Privacy by TrustArc (formerly TRUSTe) and for Privacy Shield by the U.S. Department of Commerce . For Confirmit’s Privacy Policy see here.
On its homepage, Confirmit advertises its services with its performance in something called The Forrester Wave™.
Forrester's analysts recognized Confirmit's focus on flexibility, stating that Confirmit "meets clients where they are by providing a very hands-on approach when needed or enabling self-service when teams are able and willing to do it themselves".
Wonder which client in the scientific services needs flexible, hands-on approaches? Altough I'm curious to know who's behind this scam, I won't make the survey. Never give them what they want. Not only Alexander of Humboldt knew:
Scientists should work for humanity, not mammon.
To increase knowledge, not profits.
Active(ly) or passive(ly).


Update 18/3/2020
Got a new invitation, obviously some people (2083, to be precise) are falling for the scam.
As a published author you have been chosen to provide your opinion about online services available to the research community. If you have not already completed the survey, there is still time to have your say. ... So far since October '19, with the help of your peers completing the survey we have raised $4,166 for these charities!
Surely, participating will make the world a better place. Just don't. Rather than spending 15 min of your time, why not just donate 5$ directly to a good cause of your choice?

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