Monday, 9 December 2013

An Academic Survey

I received this morning an email asking to me participate in a survey about "perceptions scientists have of information providers in scientific, technical and medical research fields.."

I'm always a little suspicious of such things but this does seem genuine-ish, if a little badly written; actually I was wondering if they were going to ask me to be a proxy to transfer 50 million USD from an account in the Central African Republic to somewhere on behalf of the Emporer of Botswana?

Do they really have to be so "secretive" in the wording too? I wonder what paper they are referring to, I published quite a few in 2010? What was the "careful selection criteria?"

Here's the mail:

Dear Dr. Oliver ,

We are contacting you because you are the corresponding author on a paper that was published in 2010. We are conducting a survey about the perceptions scientists have of information providers in scientific, technical and medical research fields. As only a carefully selected sample of scientists and practitioners have been chosen for the study, your feedback is very valuable to us.

The survey is being conducted by a scientific, technical and medical publisher who will be revealed at the end of the survey. Under the terms of the Market Research Society Code of Conduct, it will not lead to any sales follow up and no individual (or organization) will be identified. Your results will be kept confidential and used only for research purposes.

We would be grateful if you could spare approximately 15 minutes to complete this survey. The closing date for the survey is 23rd December 2013.

To start the survey, please click ONCE on the link below (or paste it into your browser):

[link redacted]

Please do not reply to this e-mail as the inbox is not monitored. If you are having trouble with this survey you can let us know [redacted]) and we will address any technical problems as quickly as we can.

Thank you very much for your time, we really value your input.

It mentions the "Market Research Society Code of Conduct" and ensures me that my data will only be used for the primary purposes of the survey; no marketing etc...The company sending this is Confirmit, a Norwegian based company that conducts market research - just wonder why they're quoting the MRSC code of conduct presumably given that the MRSC is a UK organisation as far as I can tell.

I'd actually like to know what their privacy policy is, and how they interact with their customers...for example, do they anonymise by hashing unique identifiers? Wwhat is the full set of data that does flow to the customer? What to Confirmit keep and for how long?

Anyway, I contacted MRSC to find out whether this is genuine or not and who is actually using this data.

A few other searches suggests that this might be a request by Elsevier to find out why authors are so upset with them. I guess it isn't a secret that I frequent the category theory lists and there might be one or two there who might not be friends with Elsevier....

So, went to Elsevier's web pages to find some contact details to find out whether they were asking and again whether this is something genuine or some evil spam...clicking on "Help & Contact" gives, well....

I'll let you know how I get on if I get any replies....

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