Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘self peer review’ Category

Can a tracking system for peer reviewers help stop fakes?

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Andrew Preston Credit: Victoria University of Wellington

The problem of fake peer reviews never seems to end — although the research community has known about it since 2014, publishers are still discovering new cases. In April, one journal alone retracted 107 papers after discovering the review process had been compromised. By tracking individual reviewers’ contributions, Publons — recently purchased by Clarivate Analytics — thinks that it can help curtail the problem of faked reviews. Co-founder and CEO Andrew Preston spoke to us about how it might work — and how the site has responded to recent criticism about accessibility to review data.

Retraction Watch: What is Publons doing to help combat the problem of faked reviews? 

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Written by Alison McCook

June 23rd, 2017 at 10:00 am

Springer purge of fake reviews takes down 10+ more neuroscience papers

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Back in April, Springer retracted a record number 107 papers from Tumor Biology after uncovering evidence they were subject to fake peer reviews. But it appears that the Tumor Biology sweep was only part of the story.

During the Tumor Biology investigation, Springer found evidence that the “peer review process was compromised” in a dozen papers on brain cancer published in another journal. The 12 Molecular Neurobiology retractions have trickled in over the past year or so, published before and after the Tumor Biology sweep.

A spokesperson at Springer confirmed that the 12 retracted papers in Molecular Neurobiology were related to the Tumor Biology retractions for fake peer review: Read the rest of this entry »

A new record: Major publisher retracting more than 100 studies from cancer journal over fake peer reviews

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Springer is retracting 107 papers from one journal after discovering they had been accepted with fake peer reviews. Yes, 107.

To submit a fake review, someone (often the author of a paper) either makes up an outside expert to review the paper, or suggests a real researcher — and in both cases, provides a fake email address that comes back to someone who will invariably give the paper a glowing review. In this case, Springer, the publisher of Tumor Biology through 2016, told us that an investigation produced “clear evidence” the reviews were submitted under the names of real researchers with faked emails. Some of the authors may have used a third-party editing service, which may have supplied the reviews. The journal is now published by SAGE.

The retractions follow another sweep by the publisher last year, when Tumor Biology retracted 25 papers for compromised review and other issues, mostly authored by researchers based in Iran. With the latest bunch of retractions, the journal has now retracted the most papers of any other journal indexed by Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, formerly part of Thomson Reuters. In 2015, its impact factor — 2.9 — ranked it 104th out of 213 oncology journals.

Here’s more from Springer’s official statement, out today:

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Written by Alison McCook

April 20th, 2017 at 9:00 am

Elsevier to retract six more papers by computer scientist, citing duplication and fake reviews

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Yesterday we reported that Elsevier journals had pulled three papers by a computer scientist with an impressive publication record. The publisher has since informed us that it plans to pull six more, again citing duplication and manipulation of the peer-review process.

Shahaboddin Shamshirband at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s record will be down by a total of nine papers once the publisher issues the additional notices. We also found evidence that an additional paper was removed by a journal, but haven’t confirmed if that’s a retraction.

One of Shamshirband’s co-authors has objected to one of the retractions Elsevier has already issued for faked reviews, arguing the reviewers were PhD students without institutional email addresses. A spokesperson for Elsevier told us:

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Computer scientist loses at least three papers, two for faked reviews

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A computer scientist in Malaysia has lost two papers for faked peer reviews, and another for duplication. A fourth paper on which he is a co-author appears to have simply disappeared.

One retraction lays the blame for the fake reviewer on corresponding author Shahaboddin Shamshirband at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. According to the journal, Shamshirband — who has co-authored more than 200 papers and book chapters, despite receiving his PhD in 2014, according to his biography on Vitae — supplied a fake email for the reviewer during the submission process.

Here’s the retraction notice for that paper, issued by the journal Measurement:

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How fake peer review happens: An impersonated reviewer speaks

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springerEarlier this month, BioMed Central and Springer announced that they were retracting nearly 60 papers for a host of related issues, including manipulating the peer-review process. Recently, we were contacted by one of the reviewers who was impersonated by some of the authors of the retracted papers.

The scientist wants to remain anonymous, but provided us with emails that supported his version of events.

In case you need a refresher on the “events” that took place: The two publishers recently pulled 58 papers from authors mostly based in Iran, citing evidence of plagiarism, and manipulating the peer-review process and allocating authorship positions inappropriately.

It all started with a seemingly simple question, the scientist told us: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

November 15th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Researcher denies faking reviews for 5 newly retracted papers

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engineering-failure-analysisJournals have retracted five papers by a materials researcher based in Poland after concluding the peer-review process had been faked. 

According to the retraction notices — which all appear in Elsevier journals and contain the same text — the papers were accepted due to “positive advice of at least one faked reviewer report,” which were submitted from fictitious email accounts for reviewers suggested by the author.

All five studies were solely authored by Mariusz Książek, who is based at the Wrocław University of Science and Technology in Poland, and has denied any wrongdoing.

A spokesperson from the Wrocław University of Science and Technology confirmed that the university “has taken legal actions.” 

Książek told Retraction Watch why he doesn’t agree with the decision to retract his papers: Read the rest of this entry »

Medical journal retracts study over fake review, authorship concerns

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european-journal-of-medical-researchA journal has retracted a 2015 study about lung cancer after learning the peer-review process had been compromised.

The paper was published in March, 2015 — the same month publisher BioMed Central (BMC) pulled 43 papers for fake reviews.

According to the retraction notice in the European Journal of Medical Research, the authors’ institution in China informed the publisher that the authors had used a third party to help with copyediting and submission to the journal, raising concerns about the authorship of the paper.

Here’s the retraction notice, published in August: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

November 2nd, 2016 at 9:30 am

Springer, BMC retracting nearly 60 papers for fake reviews and other issues

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springerIn a massive cleanup, Springer and BioMed Central announced today they are retracting 58 papers for several reasons, including manipulation of the peer-review process and inappropriately allocating authorship.

The papers appeared in seven journals, and more are under investigation.

In a release issued today, the publishers note: Read the rest of this entry »

Ever heard of China’s “five don’ts of academic publishing?”

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castNo country is immune to misconduct — but some are being more proactive than others.

China, for one, has issued a policy dubbed the “5 don’ts of academic publishing,” which appear to specifically target the ways in which researchers have subverted the peer-review process or hired outsiders to help them with their manuscripts.

An announcement signed by the The Chinese Association for Science and Technology (CAST), Ministry of Education, Ministry of Science and Technology, Health and Family Planning Commission, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Academy of Engineering, and the Natural Science Foundation stipulates: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

October 20th, 2016 at 2:00 pm