Simple, regular checks could squelch some pernicious practices by unscrupulous publishers and preserve your digital presence.
A few years ago, one of my mentors was surprised when he realized he shared a name with a porn star. He wrote to Google to request that queries under his name not turn up racy images. Another adviser had learnt that a former junior colleague had added his name to a conference submission without his knowledge, presumably to enhance its prestige, and my adviser found himself accused of undisclosed conflicts of interest.
This Nature story suggests some simple activities researchers should undertake regularly to check for problems that might undermine their reputation and impact. These are excellent tips for researchers of all career stages.
Funders, publishers and institutions all bear responsibility to craft policies that stymie scholarly abuse. But individual scholars have some power — and a duty — to do so, too. I propose a ‘hygiene routine’ that scientists should repeat regularly — much like getting a haircut or a dental check-up. The threat of detection and broader community awareness of abuse could shrink established predatory practices and nip emerging ones in the bud.