Want to make sure your paper gets published? Just do your own peer review like this researcher did

env managementWe’ve reported on some pretty impressive cases of researchers doing their own peer review, one of which led to 28 retractions. We have another.

Yongdeng Lei, of the School of Geography and Remote Sensing Science at Beijing Normal University, pulled the wool over the eyes of two Springer journals. Here’s the notice from Environmental Management for “Typhoon Disasters and Adaptive Governance in Guangdong, China:”

The peer-review process for the above article was found to have been compromised and inappropriately influenced by the first author, Yongdeng Lei. As a result the findings and conclusions of these articles cannot be relied upon.

The Editor-in-Chief was misled in believing that she had accepted the article based upon a favorable review. The article is retracted based upon violation of the integrity of the peer review process.

The first author and the publisher wish to retract this paper to preserve the integrity of material published in the journal. The publisher acknowledges that the integrity of the peer review process should have been subject to more rigorous verification to ensure the reviews provided were genuine and impartial. The publisher apologizes for any inconvenience rendered to the readers of the journal and wishes to assure the reader that measures have been taken to ensure that the peer review process is comprehensively checked to avoid a similar error occurring.

When we saw the language in that notice — “compromised and inappropriately influenced by the first author” — we thought it might have been self-peer review, so we asked Springer. They confirmed that it was, and let us know that Lei had done the same thing with a paper published in another Springer journal, Regional Environmental Change.

That certainly sounds like inappropriate influence. Here’s the Regional Environmental Change notice for “Adaptation strategies of farmers to drought in a changing climate in Dingcheng County, Hunan, southern China:”

The peer-review process for the above article was found to have been compromised and inappropriately influenced by the corresponding author, Yongdeng Lei. As a result the findings and conclusions of these articles cannot be relied upon.

The Editor-in-Chief was misled in believing that he had accepted the article based upon a favorable review. The article is retracted based upon violation of the integrity of the peer review process.

The corresponding author and the publisher wish to retract this paper to preserve the integrity of material published in the journal. The publisher acknowledges that the integrity of the peer review process should have been subject to more rigorous verification to ensure the reviews provided were genuine and impartial. The publisher apologizes for any inconvenience rendered to the readers of the journal and wishes to assure the reader that measures have been taken to ensure that the peer review process is comprehensively checked to avoid a similar error occurring.

Springer has had a rough run of it lately, having learned last month that it published 16 fake conference proceedings papers.

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2 thoughts on “Want to make sure your paper gets published? Just do your own peer review like this researcher did”

  1. I wonder when Watson can be used to peer review papers. After ingesting all of PubMed, MEDLINE, JSTOR, arxiv and biorxiv, Watson would probably be able to detect plagiarism like nobody’s business; image manipulation like nobody’s business and failure to cite papers and ideas.

    1. If the time comes when Watson can be used to peer review, it might also be used to generate hypotheses, the methodologies to best test those hypotheses, data analysis strategies, and even interpretation of findings. At that point it would also become an author of many studies and, eventually, wouldn’t it have to be disqualified from reviewing its own work? 🙂

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