Three Elsevier math journals are among the latest scientific publications to be retracting papers because fake email addresses were used to obtain favorable peer reviews.
The three papers appear in two journals: “On two subclasses of (α,β)-metrics being projectively related,” in the Journal of Geometry and Physics; and “Complex Bogoslovsky Finsler metrics” and “Sasaki–Randers metric in Finsler geometry,” in the Journal of Mathematical Analysis and Applications. All three share authors Akbar Tayebi, of the University of Qom, Iran, and Esmaeil Peyghan, of Arak University, also in Iran.
The notices in the Journal of Mathematical Analysis and Applications read as follows (the EES refers to the Elsevier Editorial System):
A referee’s report on which the editorial decision was made was found to be falsified. The referee’s report was submitted under the name of an established scientist who was not aware of the paper or the report, via a fictitious EES account. Because of the submission of a fake, but well-written and positive referee’s report, the Editor was misled into accepting the paper based upon the positive advice of what he assumed was a well-known expert in the field. This represents a clear violation of the fundamentals of the peer-review process, our publishing policies, and publishing ethics standards.
The Journal of Geometry and Physics notice:
Using a false email account, somebody submitted a fake positive report, thereby deliberately misleading the Editor in charge of the paper. The Editor accepted the paper based upon this report, which he assumed had been written by a well-known expert in Finsler geometry. This involves a violation of our publishing policies at the highest possible level. The Editor in Chief, the Associate Editors and the Publisher have therefore decided to retract the paper and apologize to the readers of the Journal of Geometry and Physics that this infringement was not picked up earlier.
Reading the notices carefully, it’s not clear who submitted the bogus email addresses. And Goong Chen, one of the editors of Journal of Mathematical Analysis and Applications, tells Retraction Watch it’s not completely clear who wrote the bogus reviews, either:
There is not yet absolute evidence that those authors themselves wrote and submitted the peer reviews themselves.
You might be reading about more such retractions from these authors, suggests Chen’s message to us (see correction at end of post):
This is not an isolated incident. Elsevier’s publisher and several journal editors discovered those authors’
trickstracks through submissions/publications to several Elsevier journals.
We’ve tried reaching Tayebi and Peyghan for comment, and will update with anything we hear back. They join an illustrious group of fake email fraudsters including Hyung-In Moon, who has retracted 24 papers for this kind of behavior, and Guang-Zhi He, whose work was also retracted after Elsevier found evidence of tampering with their editorial system.
Correction, 10 a.m. 9/28/12: Quote from Dr. Chen corrected from “tricks” to “tracks.” We apologize for this error, which occurred when we assumed Dr. Chen had made a typo.