I have written about ‘EVIDENCE BASED COMPLEMENTARY AND ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE’ (EBCAM), on of the leading alt med journals before (for instance here and here). To my embarrassment, I must admit to having been a member of its founding editorial-board; but I left when things started looking suspicious. In the latter post, I pointed out that:

  • The peer-review system of EBCAM is farcical: potential authors who send their submissions to EBCAM are invited to suggest their preferred reviewers who subsequently are almost invariably appointed to do the job. It goes without saying that such a system is prone to all sorts of serious failures; in fact, this is not peer-review at all, in my opinion, it is an unethical sham.
  • As a result, most (I estimate around 80%) of the articles that currently get published on alternative medicine are useless rubbish. They tend to be either pre-clinical investigations which never get followed up and are thus meaningless, or surveys of no relevance whatsoever, or pilot studies that never are succeeded by more definitive trials, or non-systematic reviews that are wide open to bias and can only mislead the reader.

Strong words? Yes, ‘useless rubbish’ is not exactly meant as a compliment. Perhaps you want to judge for yourself – here are the last 20 articles published in EBCAM in 2015:


Additional Effects of Back-Shu Electroacupuncture and Moxibustion in Cardioprotection of Rat Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury.

Kathy Lee SM, Yoon KH, Park J, Kim HS, Woo JS, Lee SR, Lee KH, Jang HH, Kim JB, Kim WS, Lee S, Kim W.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:625645. doi: 10.1155/2015/625645. Epub 2016 Jan 11.


Germinated Brown Rice Alters Aβ(1-42) Aggregation and Modulates Alzheimer’s Disease-Related Genes in Differentiated Human SH-SY5Y Cells.

Azmi NH, Ismail M, Ismail N, Imam MU, Alitheen NB, Abdullah MA.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:153684. doi: 10.1155/2015/153684. Epub 2015 Dec 22.


Scientific Evidence for Korean Medicine and Its Integrative Medical Research.

Park W, Mollahaliloglu S, Linnik V, Chae H.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:967087. doi: 10.1155/2015/967087. Epub 2015 Dec 30. No abstract available.


Acupuncture for Lateral Epicondylitis: A Systematic Review.

Tang H, Fan H, Chen J, Yang M, Yi X, Dai G, Chen J, Tang L, Rong H, Wu J, Liang F.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:861849. doi: 10.1155/2015/861849. Epub 2015 Dec 30. Review.


Oleanolic Acid Attenuates Insulin Resistance via NF-κB to Regulate the IRS1-GLUT4 Pathway in HepG2 Cells.

Li M, Han Z, Bei W, Rong X, Guo J, Hu X.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:643102. doi: 10.1155/2015/643102. Epub 2015 Dec 30.


Influence of the Alcohol Present in a Phytotherapic Tincture on Male Rat Lipid Profiles and Renal Function.

Silva FC, de Souza JG, Reichert AM, Antonangelo RP, Suzuki R, Itinose AM, Marek CB.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:762373. doi: 10.1155/2015/762373. Epub 2015 Dec 28.


The History, Mechanism, and Clinical Application of Auricular Therapy in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Hou PW, Hsu HC, Lin YW, Tang NY, Cheng CY, Hsieh CL.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:495684. doi: 10.1155/2015/495684. Epub 2015 Dec 28. Review.


Antibacterial and Cytotoxic Activity of Compounds Isolated from Flourensia oolepis.

Joray MB, Trucco LD, González ML, Napal GN, Palacios SM, Bocco JL, Carpinella MC.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:912484. doi: 10.1155/2015/912484. Epub 2015 Dec 27.


Huangqi Jianzhong Tang for Treatment of Chronic Gastritis: A Systematic Review of Randomized Clinical Trials.

Wei Y, Ma LX, Yin SJ, An J, Wei Q, Yang JX.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:878164. doi: 10.1155/2015/878164. Epub 2015 Dec 27. Review.


The Role of CAM in Public Health, Disease Prevention, and Health Promotion.

Hawk C, Adams J, Hartvigsen J.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:528487. doi: 10.1155/2015/528487. Epub 2015 Dec 24. No abstract available.


Yangjing Capsule Ameliorates Spermatogenesis in Male Mice Exposed to Cyclophosphamide.

Zhao H, Jin B, Zhang X, Cui Y, Sun D, Gao C, Gu Y, Cai B.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:980583. doi: 10.1155/2015/980583. Epub 2015 Dec 21.


Protective Effects of Streblus asper Leaf Extract on H2O2-Induced ROS in SK-N-SH Cells and MPTP-Induced Parkinson’s Disease-Like Symptoms in C57BL/6 Mouse.

Singsai K, Akaravichien T, Kukongviriyapan V, Sattayasai J.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:970354. doi: 10.1155/2015/970354. Epub 2015 Dec 21.


The Effect of Korean Red Ginseng on Sexual Function in Premenopausal Women: Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind, Crossover Clinical Trial.

Chung HS, Hwang I, Oh KJ, Lee MN, Park K.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:913158. doi: 10.1155/2015/913158. Epub 2015 Dec 22.


Mechanism Study of Traditional Medicine Using Proteomics Alone or Integrated with Other Systems Biology Technologies.

Liu X, Kanthimathi MS, Heese K.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:828159. doi: 10.1155/2015/828159. Epub 2015 Dec 22. No abstract available.


The Consumption of Bicarbonate-Rich Mineral Water Improves Glycemic Control.

Murakami S, Goto Y, Ito K, Hayasaka S, Kurihara S, Soga T, Tomita M, Fukuda S.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:824395. doi: 10.1155/2015/824395. Epub 2015 Dec 21.


Protective Effects of Danhong Injection against Cerebral Damage during On-Pump Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery.

Xuejuan Z, Jietao Z, Di H, Yu Z, Xiaozi G, Yunfa L, Lihua D.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:527219. doi: 10.1155/2015/527219. Epub 2015 Dec 22.


Mindfulness-Based Intervention for Adolescents with Recurrent Headaches: A Pilot Feasibility Study.

Hesse T, Holmes LG, Kennedy-Overfelt V, Kerr LM, Giles LL.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:508958. doi: 10.1155/2015/508958. Epub 2015 Dec 22.


Hypotensive and Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitory Activities of Eisenia fetida Extract in Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats.

Mao S, Li C.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:349721. doi: 10.1155/2015/349721. Epub 2015 Dec 22.


Corrigendum to “Low-Level Laser Stimulation on Adipose-Tissue-Derived Stem Cell Treatments for Focal Cerebral Ischemia in Rats”.

Shen CC, Yang YC, Chiao MT, Chan SC, Liu BS.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:278951. doi: 10.1155/2015/278951. Epub 2015 Dec 21.


Kainic Acid-Induced Excitotoxicity Experimental Model: Protective Merits of Natural Products and Plant Extracts.

Mohd Sairazi NS, Sirajudeen KN, Asari MA, Muzaimi M, Mummedy S, Sulaiman SA.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:972623. doi: 10.1155/2015/972623. Epub 2015 Dec 17. Review.


Free PMC Article

12 Responses to EBCAM: an alt med journal that puzzles me a great deal

  • It us hard to see why this journal is even indexed. Its publication practices appear to meet the standard definition of predatory.

  • Just the titles of the articles alone are frighteningly funny/funnily frightening. A desperate attempt to use gobbledygook in an attempt to look all ‘science-y’ and that. A bit like the way charlatans use ‘quantum’ as an ornament, as in a book available on Amazon titled ‘Quantum Psychophysics’.

  • It’s also interesting to note that the cost of subscribing to EBCAM is the second highest of all their 364 publications: the highest is BioMed Research International at $6,999, with EBCAM coming in at $3,195 per annum. Most of their other publications are just a few hundred dollars per annum.

    It should be noted that the excellent (and properly peer-reviewed) Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies, edited by Prof Ernst, costs a mere £114 with print and online access and does not charge authors a publication fee.

    The publishers of EBCAM, Hindawi, claim that it has an acceptance rate of 29%. I’ll leave readers to contemplate the quality of the 71%.

  • Call me biased, but over the years I have learned to regard any journal published by Hindawi as suspicious.

  • Your 80% estimate appears low.

  • Dear Edzard Ernst,

    regarding to point number 1, the possibility of suggesting reviewers is not common on other fields of mainstream medicine as well?

    I’ve submitted papers to journals in the field of rheumatology. In all cases, the journal offered the possibility of not only suggesting reviewers, but also to “suggest against” reviwers too. However, it’s true that in the end I wouldn’t know who had reviewed the paper.

    • true, but most other journals then send it to independent reviewers; they ask for potential reviewers because they want to increase their lists of potential reviewers, I think [but I am not entirely sure]

  • It seems pretty shameful that animals are used for this useless research. (I.E. the first linked article).

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