This Australian dog is so smart it's now peer reviewing academic papers

Ollie the dog, AKA Dr Olivia Doll, DCS, MECS. Image: Professor Mike Daube, AO

Dr Olivia Doll has an impressive resume, including a doctorate, positions as a lecturer and a number of cutting edge research interests.

The Australian academic has also recently been appointed to a number of honorary editorial board positions for academic journals and has just been asked to peer review papers for publication.

The trouble is that Dr Doll is in real life a dog called Ollie who lives in Perth.

Her owner, Professor Mike Daube, a health policy expert at Curtin University, created the persona as a reaction against academic journal scams.

It started as a bit of light-hearted fun. Academics are prime targets, often several times a day, of emails from what are known as predatory journals.

“They are not real journals, such as the Medical Journal of Australia,” Daube told Business Insider.

“These people say: Send us your paper and well will publish you. And for young academics, there is pressure to publish and this looks great.

“The publications themselves usually have wonderful phrasing like: There is no publication costs but there is a processing cost. You can pay over $3000.

“It’s a con. It’s a fraud.”

Ollie, who Daube says is pretty smart anyway, put together a CV. She’s Ollie, known as Oll the Doll, so she became Dr Olivia Doll, aged 35 (or 5 dog years), who looks remarkably like Kylie Minogue wearing glasses, according to the photograph she uses.

Kylie Minogue at the launch of her eyewear collection for Specsavers in Sydney. Don Arnold/WireImage

She hates birds, so she naturally named her doctoral dissertation: “Canine Responses to Avian Proximity.”

She’s a Staffordshire terrier so her bachelor degree is from the Staffordshire College of Territorial Science.

And she lives in Subiaco so her Doctor of Canine Studies is from the Subiaco College of Veterinary Science.

She came from a dog pound three years ago so her Master of Early Canine Studies was awarded by the Shenton Park Institute for Canine Refuge Studies.

Her research interests include “Relationships between Doberman Pinschers and Staffordshire Terriers in domestic environments” and the “role of domestic canines in promoting optimal mental health in ageing males”.

She also hates skateboards and has been researching “the impact of skateboards on canine ambulation.”

“It would take a five-year-old one click to expose this,” says Professor Daube.

Seven journals wrote back, saying she was now on their editorial board. One said she had been appointed an associate editor.

Here are some of her appointments to editorial boards:

  • EC Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Journal of Community Medicine & Public Health Care
  • Journal of Tobacco Stimulated Diseases
  • Journal of Alcohol and Drug Abuse/Alzheimer’s and Parkinsonism: Research and Therapy
  • Journal of Psychiatry and Mental Disorders
  • Associate Editor and Editorial Board member, Global Journal of Addiction & Rehabilitation Medicine
  • Austin Addiction Sciences

One journal wrote: “We are delighted to have such an eminent person such as yourself.”

Ollie is pleased with the response. She’s been asked to write editorials and to review papers.

“The serious issue is that gullible young academics are being conned by these publications,” says Daube.

“There have been previous exposes of predatory journals. She’s not the first person to expose this but she is the first dog. Anybody who responds to these journals must be barking mad.

“Isn’t it wonderful that my dog is becoming better known than I am.”

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