In more faked peer review news…10 papers pulled by Hindawi

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 9.57.36 AMGuess what? We’ve got more cases of fraudulent peer review to report — our second post of the day on the subject, in fact. In the latest news, Hindawi Publishing Corporation has retracted 10 papers for “fraudulent review reports,” after an investigation of more than 30 papers that had been flagged this summer.

The investigation found that author Jason Jung, a computer engineer at Yeungnam University in Korea, “was involved in submitting the fraudulent review reports” for four of the retracted papers, according to the publisher’s CEO. In the case of the other six, the authors didn’t appear to be involved.

Hindawi Publishing Corporation, which publishes over 400 journals, doesn’t ask authors for potential review suggestions — making a common route to fake peer review more difficult.  In July, when Hindawi announced it was investigating the papers, it posted a statement saying that they suspected the editors had created fake reviewer accounts.

The retraction note on Jung’s papers — identical except for the title at the beginning — explains that each paper has

been retracted as it was accepted for publication on the basis of peer review reports that were submitted from fraudulent reviewer accounts.

It continues:

In late 2014, a number of publishers discovered widespread abuse of the peer review process, including cases of identity theft and faked review reports. In July 2015, Hindawi concluded an extensive investigation into peer review fraud and identified a number of articles that had been accepted on the basis of fraudulent peer review reports.

In accordance with the guidelines of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), this article has been retracted on the basis that fraudulent review reports were submitted by one of the article’s co-authors, Jason Jung.

The papers that Jung was the corresponding author on are:

Two of those papers have another person in common — Dosam Hwang of Yeungnam University was the editor on the first, and a co-author on the third.

For the other papers called into question in July, the publisher submitted them to another round of peer review, according to Paul Peters, Hindawi’s Chief Executive Officer:

For the remaining articles we found no evidence of author involvement in the manipulation of the peer review process. Following COPE’s recommended course of action, we re-reviewed all of the articles identified in our original investigation using independent Editorial Board Members. These editors have recommended we retract an additional six articles.

On those six, Jung was the academic editor on two. Amir Kajbafvala of North Carolina State University was the editor on the other four. Kajbafvala was not a co-author on any of the retracted papers.

Those six retractions have a similar note to the one above, with the exception of the last few lines. The notes explain, as Peters told us, that the manuscript didn’t pass a proper peer-review process:

In accordance with the recommendations of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), Hindawi sent these manuscripts for re-review using independent Editorial Board Members. Following this re-review process, this article has been retracted as it was deemed unsuitable for publication.

Those are:

Peters told us that the rest of the 22 papers flagged back in July are fine:

Apart from the 10 articles above, there were no concerns raised by these Editors that would warrant any further retractions.

We asked him if he had any idea as to the editors’ motivations for manipulating the peer-review process. He told us:

Unfortunately we don’t have any insight into why the editors would have manipulated the peer review process of these papers.Following the re-review process of the articles that were flagged during our initial investigation, the majority of the articles involved were found to have no serious problems that would warrant retraction. So, it is possible that the editors simply wanted to expedite the peer review process of these articles by submitting review reports themselves. However, I am not in a position to speak to the motivations of the people involved as we have no concrete evidence either way.

We’ve reached out to the corresponding author on each paper, and will update this post with anything else we learn.

The total number of retractions stemming from problematic peer review is now inching ever closer to 300.

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7 thoughts on “In more faked peer review news…10 papers pulled by Hindawi”

  1. Were any papers REJECTED on the basis of faked peer reviews? Were any careers damaged by editors who could not be bothered to do their job,or who wanted to ensure that their personal biases were not contradicted, or their own research challenged ?

  2. This is getting to be a popular method of fraud. Thanks for keeping on top of it for all the interested parties out there– individuals, madmen, geniuses– you know, the man on the street mumbling to himself. See my profile picture at left.

  3. There needs to be real consequences for fraud in publishing. I think most scientists would agree that faking the peer review process is probably the highest crime one could commit in the scientific field. Our “objectivity” is based primarily upon the process of peer review.
    Because the outcome of fraud is monetary gain, it should be considered a criminal act.
    If my medical doctor is knowingly lying to me for financial gain, what are the outcomes?
    These cases of fraud completely erode scientific progress and waste public/private funds.

    The sad outcome of this trend is a lot of good data gets overlooked because scientist must put on such a heavy filter when looking through the literature. Really disheartening. The only light in the tunnel is the apparent effort by publishers to tighten the reigns.

    Once again, great job retraction watch for providing this info.

    1. “Because the outcome of fraud is monetary gain, it should be considered a criminal act”…

      The outcome is not limited to economical rewards. The most disappointing consequences are related to the Ponzi-like pyramidal schemes in which the fraudsters may be involved: once they are sticked on high-level tenured positions, they are virtually immunized against any attempt to investigate them. For a recent case in Pakistan, please read:

      http://tribune.com.pk/story/957480/copy-paste-doctorate-comsats-pro-rectors-phd-thesis-found-72-plagiarised/

      On August 21, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan requested the COMSATS to make “unbiased inquiry” about the allegation that Dr Haroon Rashid plagiarized his PhD thesis. That’s fine. I see two problems, however:

      1- Dr. Haroon Rashid is an ex-officio member of the Board of Governors of the COMSATS. The conflict of interest is obvious.
      2- The deadline fixed by the HEC (90 days) has expired, and as expected, nothing happened.

      At least, point 2 is consistent with the following quote in the above mentioned article:

      “In April this year [2015], the HEC updated a list of 21 academicians on its website who have been found plagiarising research papers, thesis and other publications. Interestingly, despite several reminders from the HEC to these universities for taking action against plagiarists, nothing has been done by a single university.”

      1. You’re absolutely right. The root reason is university rankings which give so much weight to published research and citations. Therefore, it is unreasonable to expect that universities would conduct a genuine investigation when they stand to gain from published plagiarized research. I call on those ranking agencies to investigate claims by impartial committees and give negative marks for fraudulent published research. If universities expect loss of reputation , then they might take this issue more seriously. Such unethical behavior is encouraged by some as long as their ranking improves.

      2. Why? Because university rankings incentivize the number of publications. If one looks at those ranking systems, there is no criteria whatsoever for the number of retractions, errata, expression of concern. Thus, universities main concern is producing more papers at all costs.

  4. Not sure if this retraction forms part of the same story, or not.

    The Scientific World Journal
    Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 4953678, 1 page
    http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2016/4953678

    “The Scientific World Journal has retracted the article titled “Dynamic Harmony Search with Polynomial Mutation Algorithm for Valve-Point Economic Load Dispatch” [1]. After conducting a thorough investigation, we have strong reason to believe that the peer review process was compromised.

    This article was originally submitted to a Special Issue titled “Recent Advances in Metaheuristics and Its Hybrids.” In late 2015, Dr. Xavier Delorme, the lead guest editor on the Special Issue, alerted us that his identity had been compromised. After further investigation, we discovered that several peer review reports in this issue had been submitted from similarly compromised email accounts.

    We are retracting the articles in keeping with the “COPE statement on inappropriate manipulation of the peer review process.” There is no evidence that any of the authors or editors, including Dr. Delorme, were aware of this misconduct.”

    [1] M. Karthikeyan and T. Sree Ranga Raja, “Dynamic harmony search with polynomial mutation algorithm for valve-point economic load dispatch,” The Scientific World Journal, vol. 2015, Article ID 147678, 10 pages, 2015
    http://www.hindawi.com/journals/tswj/2015/147678/

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