Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Pharmacology journal pulls paper because third party “compromised” peer review

with 14 comments

BJCP CoverThe British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology (BJCP) has retracted a 2015 paper about treating heart failure after deciding its peer review process had been compromised.

This paper is one of the many we’ve noticed lately that have been felled by the actions of a “third party” — in this case, a manuscript editing company called EditPub.

The newly retracted paper, “rhBNP therapy can improve clinical outcomes and reduce in-hospital mortality compared with dobutamine in heart failure patients: a meta-analysis,” has not yet been cited, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science.

Here’s the retraction note, which tells us a bit more:

The above article, published online on 28th November 2015 in Wiley Online Library (, and in volume 81, pp. 174–185, has been retracted by agreement between the authors, the journal Editor in Chief, Professor A Cohen, and John Wiley & Sons Limited. The retraction has been agreed owing to evidence indicating that the peer review of this paper was compromised. The authors were unaware of the actions of the third party responsible for compromising the peer review.

Xiao-Feng Long, last author of the paper from Dalian University in China, told us the third party involved with processing the manuscript is a company called “EditPub.” Long added the authors were “shocked” by what happened:

We are very sad and regret that our own academic achievements have lost the opportunity to publish in British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

Long said the team was still confident in the paper:

Of course, we firmly believe…the authenticity of our academic results, the reason for our loss of the publishing opportunity might be closely correlated with the ability of our lacking of adequate academic study ability, rather than the so-called academic fraud. We therefore make up our mind not to give up our research and try our best to improve our academic research ability.

Adam Cohen, editor-in-chief of BJCP and chief executive officer of the Centre for Human Drugs Research at Leiden in the Netherlands, told us he plans to publish an editorial titled, “Organised crime against peer review,” which will give “the full picture” and reveal “all names” of parties involved with the case. Cohen, however, declined to comment on the specifics until the editorial is published.

In total, that’s more than 300 papers that have so far been retracted for fake or rigged peer review. Here’s our 2014 Nature article about the issue if you need a bit more background on the topic.

We’ve contacted EditPub for a comment, and will update the post if we hear back.

Like Retraction Watch? Consider making a tax-deductible contribution to support our growth. You can also follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, add us to your RSS reader, sign up on our homepage for an email every time there’s a new post, or subscribe to our new daily digest. Click here to review our Comments Policy. For a sneak peek at what we’re working on, click here.

  • Anonymous April 14, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    I can’t seem to connect to the EditPub page. Can you write the URL below, please.

  • Narad April 14, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    in this case, a manuscript editing company called EditPub

    Sigh. Given that I do some work for a legitimate one, I wish there had been scare quotes around “manuscript editing company.” I mean, take a look at their list of reviewers. The image for Boris A. Malyarchuk (a real person) is a picture of Henry Freaking Kissinger.

    • Narad April 14, 2016 at 7:58 pm

      Sorry, the first link is broken. I meant this.

    • DudleySmith April 15, 2016 at 4:41 am

      Curiously, there’s also “Chris G. de Koster”, a.k.a Gilbert Passmore, 1/2 of artist duo Gilbert & George…

    • Anonymous April 15, 2016 at 7:07 am

      Perhaps Martin Scorsese invited him to join up, as the same page has a picture of him working for EditPub?!

  • herr doktor bimler April 14, 2016 at 9:11 pm

    I mean, take a look at their list of reviewers.

    I am impressed by the extent to which Valeria Sandrim (M.D., Ph.D., Prof) resembles Martin Scorcese.

    Lavinia Schuler-Faccini and Silvia Rabenhorst seem to be stock-art (“quizzical businessman” and “confused senior citizen”).

    • Narad April 14, 2016 at 10:45 pm

      I’ve probably been beaten to the punch, but “Chris G. de Koster” is George Proesch. This is hilarious.

      • Narad April 15, 2016 at 12:20 pm

        Ah, DudleySmith is correct; it’s Passmore. I wasn’t expecting the figure caption to identify the subjects from right to left.

  • herr doktor bimler April 14, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    The authors were unaware of the actions of the third party

    “We just hired them to write a paper for us and ensure that it was published; we washed our hands of the details.”

    “rather than the so-called academic fraud”

    Xiao-Feng Long seems reluctant to accept that any wrong-doing occurred at all.

    • Gary April 15, 2016 at 9:51 am

      Hmm… surely the authors of the paper should “write” the paper. That is why they are called authors…. it would be ok to have an exterior contactor to “edit” the papers or translate them into anther language (such as English). The use of an external company to “write” and “publish” the papers is dubious to me so I can see how it led to a dubious outcome.

    • Anonymous April 15, 2016 at 12:42 pm

      i.e., ghost-writing service?

  • Anonymous April 15, 2016 at 1:29 am

    On the page second from left on the top menu (Nature:伪审稿专家正毒害学术出版), there is an article that (ironically) discusses fake peer reviews (and where even Retraction Watch is mentioned)!

  • herr doktor bimler April 16, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    There is a whole series of pages there (id=4, ide=6, id=7, etc… all stressing the benefit that can come from having favourable reviewers, and how it benefits publication chances, and how easy it is to game the system, and “How accurate selection of reviewers” (id=8), and so on.

  • Post a comment

    Threaded commenting powered by interconnect/it code.