SAGE Publications busts “peer review and citation ring,” 60 papers retracted

This one deserves a “wjvcow.”

SAGE Publishers is retracting 60 articles from the Journal of Vibration and Control after an investigation revealed a “peer review and citation ring” involving a professor in Taiwan.

[Please see an update on this post.]

Here’s the beginning of a statement from SAGE:

London, UK (08 July 2014) – SAGE announces the retraction of 60 articles implicated in a peer review and citation ring at the Journal of Vibration and Control (JVC). The full extent of the peer review ring has been uncovered following a 14 month SAGE-led investigation, and centres on the strongly suspected misconduct of Peter Chen, formerly of National Pingtung University of Education, Taiwan (NPUE) and possibly other authors at this institution.

In 2013 the then Editor-in-Chief of JVC, Professor Ali H. Nayfeh,and SAGE became aware of a potential peer review ring involving assumed and fabricated identities used to manipulate the online submission system SAGE Track powered by ScholarOne Manuscripts™. Immediate action was taken to prevent JVC from being exploited further, and a complex investigation throughout 2013 and 2014 was undertaken with the full cooperation of Professor Nayfeh and subsequently NPUE.

In total 60 articles have been retracted from JVC after evidence led to at least one author or reviewer being implicated in the peer review ring. Now that the investigation is complete, and the authors have been notified of the findings, we are in a position to make this statement.

While investigating the JVC papers submitted and reviewed by Peter Chen, it was discovered that the author had created various aliases on SAGE Track, providing different email addresses to set up more than one account. Consequently, SAGE scrutinised further the co-authors of and reviewers selected for Peter Chen’s papers, these names appeared to form part of a peer review ring. The investigation also revealed that on at least one occasion, the author Peter Chen reviewed his own paper under one of the aliases he had created.

SAGE and Nayfeh then confronted Chen with the allegations, and weren’t satisfied with the responses, so in September 2013 they alerted NPUE to the case. Chen resigned from NPUE on February 2, 2014, according to the release, and in May Nayfeh retired and resigned as editor in chief of the JVC.

Here’s the notice:

In 2013 the Editor of Journal of Vibration and Control and SAGE became aware of a peer review ring involving assumed and fabricated identities that appeared to centre around Peter Chen at National Pingtung University of Education, Taiwan (NPUE). SAGE and the Editor then began a complex investigation into the case during the rest of 2013 and 2014. Following an unsatisfactory response from Peter Chen, NPUE was notified.

NPUE were serious in addressing the Journal and SAGE’s concerns. NPUE confirmed that the institution was investigating Peter Chen. SAGE subsequently uncovered a citation ring involving the above mentioned author and others.

We regret that individual authors have compromised the academic record by perverting the peer review process and apologise to readers. On uncovering problems with peer review and citation SAGE immediately put steps in place to avoid similar vulnerability of the Journal to exploitation in the future. More information may be found at

The Journal and SAGE understand from NPUE that Peter Chen has resigned his post at NPUE.

The following articles are retracted because after thorough investigation evidence points towards them having at least one author or being reviewed by at least one reviewer who has been implicated in the peer review ring and/or citation ring. All authors have had an opportunity to respond to the allegations and proposed actions.

OnlineFirst articles (these articles will not be published in an issue)

Chen CY, Chen T-H, Chen Y-H, Yu S-E and Chung P-Y (2013) Information technology system modeling an integrated C-TAM-TPB model to the validation of ocean tidal analyses Journal of Vibration and Control Epub ahead of print 7 May 2013. doi: 10.1177/1077546312472924

Chang R-F, Chen CY, Su F-P and Lin H-C (2013) A two-step approach for broadband digital signal processing technique Journal of Vibration and Control Epub ahead of print 26 April 2013. doi: 10.1177/1077546312472925

Chen TH, Chang CJ, Yu SE, Chung PY and Liu C-K (2013) Nonlinear information analysis and system management technique: the influence of design experience and control complexity Journal of Vibration and Control Epub ahead of print 12 April 2013. doi: 10.1177/1077546312473321

Chen CY, Shih BY, Chen YH, Yu SE and Liu YC (2013) The exploration of a 3T flow model using vibrating NXT: II. Model validation Journal of Vibration and Control Epub ahead of print 10 April 2013. doi: 10.1177/1077546312470481

Chen CY, Shih BY, Chen YH, Yu SE and Liu YC (2013) The exploration of 3T flow model using vibrating NXT: I. model formulation Journal of Vibration and Control Epub ahead of print 6 February 2013. doi: 10.1177/1077546312467360

Lin M-L and Chen C-W (2013) Stability analysis of fuzzy-based NN modeling for ecosystems using fuzzy Lyapunov methods Journal of Vibration and Control Epub ahead of print 6 February 2013. doi: 10.1177/1077546312466687

Chen CY, Chen TH, Chen YH and Chiu J (2012) A multi-stage method for deterministic-statistical analysis: a mathematical case and measurement studies Journal of Vibration and Control Epub ahead of print 20 December 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546312466579

Shih BY, Lin MC and Chen CY (2012) Autonomous navigation system for radiofrequency identification mobile robot e-book reader Journal of Vibration and Control Epub ahead of print 13 December 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546312466578

Chang RF, Chen CY, Su FP, Lin HC and Lu C-K (2012) Multiphase SUMO robot based on an agile modeling-driven process for a small mobile robot Journal of Vibration and Control Epub ahead of print 13 December 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546312464993

Shih B-Y, Lin Y-K, Cheng M-H, Chen C-Y and Chiu C-P (2012) The development of an application program interactive game-based information system Journal of Vibration and Control Epub ahead of print 12 December 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546312464682

Chen C-Y, Chang C-J and Lin C-H (2012) On dynamic access control in web 2.0 and cloud interactive information hub: technologies Journal of Vibration and Control Epub ahead of print 12 December 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546312464992

Shin BY, Chen CY and Hsu KH (2012) Robot cross platform system using innovative interactive theory and selection algorithms for Android application Journal of Vibration and Control Epub ahead of print 13 November 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546312463757

Articles published in an issue

Chen C-W (2014) Applications of neural-network-based fuzzy logic control to a nonlinear time-delay chaotic system Journal of Vibration and Control 20 (4): 589-605. Epub ahead of print 5 November 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546312461370

Chen C-W (2014) A review of intelligent algorithm approaches and neural-fuzzy stability criteria for time-delay tension leg platform systems Journal of Vibration and Control 20 (4): 561-575. Epub ahead of print 5 November 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546312463759

Chen C-Y, Chang C-J and Lin C-H (2014) On dynamic access control in web 2.0 and cloud interactive information hub: trends and theories Journal of Vibration and Control 20 (4): 548-560. Epub ahead of print 5 November 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546312463762

Lin M-L and Chen C-W (2014) Stability conditions for ecosystem modeling using the fuzzy Lyapunov method Journal of Vibration and Control 20 (2): 290-302. Epub ahead of print 23 October 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546312451301

Chen C-H, Kuo C-M, Hsieh S-H and Chen C-Y (2014) Highly efficient very-large-scale integration (VLSI) implementation of probabilistic neural network image interpolator Journal of Vibration and Control 20 (2): 218-224. Epub ahead of print 22 October 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546312458822

Chen C-Y (2014) Wave vibration and simulation in dissipative media described by irregular boundary surfaces: a mathematical formulation Journal of Vibration and Control 20 (2): 191-203. Epub ahead of print 22 October 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546312464258

Chen C-H, Yao T-K, Dai J-H and Chen C-Y (2014) A pipelined multiprocessor system- on-a-chip (SoC) design methodology for streaming signal processing Journal of Vibration and Control 20 (2): 163-178. Epub ahead of print 16 October 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546312458821

Lin M-L and Chen C-W (2014) Fuzzy neural modeling for n-degree ecosystems using the linear matrix inequality approach Journal of Vibration and Control 20 (1): 82-93. Epub ahead of print 8 October 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546312458533

Chen C-H, Wu W-X and Chen C-Y (2013) Ant-inspired collective problem-solving systems Journal of Vibration and Control 19 (16): 2481-2490. Epub ahead of print 18 September 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546312456231

Chen C-H, Yao T-K, Kuo C-M and Chen C-Y (2013) Evolutionary design of constructive multilayer feedforward neural network Journal of Vibration and Control 19 (16): 2413-2420. Epub ahead of print 12 September 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546312456726

Chen C-W (2013) Applications of the fuzzy-neural Lyapunov criterion to multiple time-delay systems Journal of Vibration and Control 19 (13): 2054-2067. Epub ahead of print 16 August 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546312451034

Chung P-Y, Chen Y-H, Walter L and Chen C-Y (2013) Influence and dynamics of a mobile robot control on mechanical components Journal of Vibration and Control 19 (13): 1923-1935. Epub ahead of print 20 July 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546312452184

Chen C-W (2013) Neural network-based fuzzy logic parallel distributed compensation controller for structural system Journal of Vibration and Control 19 (11): 1709-1727. Epub ahead of print 22 June 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546312442233

Chen C-W, Yeh K, Yang H-C, Liu KFR and Liu C-C (2013) A critical review of structural system control by the large-scaled neural network linear-deferential-inclusion-based criterion Journal of Vibration and Control 19 (11): 1658-1673. Epub ahead of print 18 June 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546312443377

Chen C-H, Kuo C-M, Chen C-Y and Dai J-H (2013) The design and synthesis using hierarchical robotic discrete-event modeling Journal of Vibration and Control 19 (11): 1603-1613. Epub ahead of print 27 June 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546312449645

Chang CJ, Chen CY and Chou I-T (2013) The design of information and communication technologies: telecom MOD strength machines Journal of Vibration and Control 19 (10): 1499-1513. Epub ahead of print 27 June 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546312449644

Shih B-Y, Chen C-Y, Li K-H, Wu T-Y, Chen G-Y (2013) A novel NXT control method for implementing force sensing and recycling in a training robot Journal of Vibration and Control 19 (10): 1443-1459. Epub ahead of print 1 June 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546312446361

Chen C-W, Chen P-C and Chiang W-L (2013) Modified intelligent genetic algorithm-based adaptive neural network control for uncertain structural systems Journal of Vibration and Control 19 (9): 1333-1347. Epub ahead of print 31 May 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546312442232

Chen C-Y, Shih B-Y, Shih C-H and Wang L-H (2013) Enhancing robust and stability control of a humanoid biped robot: system identification approach. Journal of Vibration and Control 19 (8): 1199-1207. Epub ahead of print 26 April 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546312442947

Chang C-J, Chen C-Y and Huang C-W (2013) Applications for medical recovery using wireless control of a bluetooth ball with a hybrid G-sensor and human-computer interface technology Journal of Vibration and Control 19 (8): 1139-1151. Epub ahead of print 24 April 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546312442948

Hsu W-K, Chiou D-J, Chen C-W, Liu M-Y, Chiang W-L and Huang P-C (2013) Sensitivity of initial damage detection for steel structures using the Hilbert-Huang transform method Journal of Vibration and Control 19 (6): 857-878. Epub ahead of print 29 February 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546311434794

Chen C-Y, Shih B-Y, Shih C-H and Wang L-H (2013) Human–machine interface for the motion control of humanoid biped robots using a graphical user interface Motion Editor Journal of Vibration and Control 19 (6): 814-820. Epub ahead of print 23 February 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546312437804

Chen C-Y (2013) Internal wave transport, nonlinear manifestation, and mixing in a stratified shear layer - technical briefs Journal of Vibration and Control 19 (3): 429-438. Epub ahead of print 18 January 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546311429337

Chen C-W (2013) Delay independent criterion for multiple time-delay systems and its application in building structure control systems Journal of Vibration and Control 19 (3): 395-414. Epub ahead of print 17 January 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546311429341

Chen C-Y, Shih B-Y, Shih C-H and Wang L-H (2013) Design, modeling and stability control for an actuated dynamic walking planar bipedal robot Journal of Vibration and Control 19 (3): 376-384. Epub ahead of print 17 January 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546311429476

Liu K-C, Liu Y-W, Chen C-Y and Huang W-C (2013) Nonlinear vibration of structural deterioration in reinforced concrete columns: experimental and theoretical investigation Journal of Vibration and Control 19 (3): 323-335. Epub ahead of print 17 January 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546311429477

Chen C-Y, Shih B-Y and Ma J-m (2013) Development for low-cost and cross-platform robot control environment Journal of Vibration and Control 19 (2): 228-233. Epub ahead of print 11 January 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546311430107

Shih B-Y, Chang H and Chen C-Y (2013) Path planning for autonomous robots – a comprehensive analysis by a greedy algorithm Journal of Vibration and Control 19 (1): 130-142. Epub ahead of print 17 January 2012. doi: 10.1177/1077546311429841

Liu T-Y, Chiang W-L, Chen C-W, Hsu W-K, Lin C-W, Chiou D-J and Huang P-C (2012) Structural system identification for vibration bridges using the Hilbert–Huang transform Journal of Vibration and Control 18 (13): 1939-1956. Epub ahead of print 14 December 2011. doi: 10.1177/1077546311428347

Chen C-W (2012) Applications of the fuzzy Lyapunov linear matrix inequality criterion to a chaotic structural system Journal of Vibration and Control 18 (13): 1925-1938. Epub ahead of print 14 December 2011. doi: 10.1177/1077546311428346

Chen C-W (2012) Applications of linear differential inclusion-based criterion to a nonlinear chaotic system: a critical review Journal of Vibration and Control 18 (12): 1886-1899. Epub ahead of print 14 December 2011. doi: 10.1177/1077546311428345

Shih B-Y, Chen C-Y and Chou W (2012) An enhanced obstacle avoidance and path correction mechanism for an autonomous intelligent robot with multiple sensors Journal of Vibration and Control 18 (12): 1855-1864. Epub ahead of print 14 December 2011. doi: 10.1177/1077546311426734

Chen C-W, Yeh K, Liu KFR and Lin M-L (2012) Applications of fuzzy control to nonlinear time-delay systems using the linear matrix inequality fuzzy Lyapunov method Journal of Vibration and Control 18 (10): 1561-1574. Epub ahead of print 18 October 2011. doi: 10.1177/1077546311410765

Chen C-Y (2012) A critical review of internal wave dynamics. Part 2 – Laboratory experiments and theoretical physics Journal of Vibration and Control 18 (7): 983-1008. Epub ahead of print 21 September 2011. doi: 10.1177/1077546310397561

Chen C-Y and Huang P-H (2012) Review of an autonomous humanoid robot and its mechanical control Journal of Vibration and Control 18 (7): 973-982. Epub ahead of print 21 September 2011. doi: 10.1177/1077546310395974

Shih B-Y, Chen C-Y, Chang H and Ma J-m (2012) Dynamics and control for robotic manipulators using a greedy algorithm approach Journal of Vibration and Control 18 (6): 859-866. Epub ahead of print 25 August 2011. doi: 10.1177/1077546311407649

Yeh K, Chen C-W, Lo DC and Liu KFR (2012) Neural-network fuzzy control for chaotic tuned mass damper systems with time delays Journal of Vibration and Control 18 (6): 785-795. Epub ahead of print 15 August 2011. doi: 10.1177/1077546311407538

Chen C-Y, Shih B-Y, Shih C-H and Chou W-C (2012) The development of autonomous low-cost biped mobile surveillance robot by intelligent bricks Journal of Vibration and Control 18 (5): 577-586. Epub ahead of print 21 April 2011. doi: 10.1177/1077546310371349

Chen C-Y (2012) A critical review of internal wave dynamics. Part 1 – Remote sensing and in-situ observations Journal of Vibration and Control 18 (3): 417-436. Epub ahead of print 13 July 2011. doi: 10.1177/1077546310395971

Tseng C-P, Chen C-W and Liu KFR (2012) Risk control allocation model for pressure vessels and piping project Journal of Vibration and Control 18 (3): 385-394. Epub ahead of print 13 July 2011. doi: 10.1177/1077546311403182

Lin M-L and Chen C-W (2011) Stability analysis of community and ecosystem hierarchies using the Lyapunov method Journal of Vibration and Control 17 (13): 1930-1937. Epub ahead of print 9 December 2010. doi: 10.1177/1077546310385737

Chen C-Y, Shih B-Y, Chou W-C, Li Y-J and Chen Y-H (2011) Obstacle avoidance design for a humanoid intelligent robot with ultrasonic sensors Journal of Vibration and Control 17 (12): 1798-1804. Epub ahead of print 26 November 2010. doi: 10.1177/1077546310381101

Chen C-W (2011) Fuzzy control of interconnected structural systems using the fuzzy Lyapunov method Journal of Vibration and Control 17 (11): 1693-1702. Epub ahead of print 23 November 2010. doi: 10.1177/1077546310379625

Shih B-Y, Chen C-Y and Chou W-C (2011) Obstacle avoidance using a path correction method for autonomous control of a biped intelligent robot Journal of Vibration and Control 17 (10): 1567-1573. Epub ahead of print 22 November 2010. doi: 10.1177/1077546310372004

Tang J-P, Chiou D-J, Chen C-W, Chiang W-L, Hsu W-K, Chen C-Y and Liu T-Y (2011) A case study of damage detection in benchmark buildings using a Hilbert-Huang Transform-based method Journal of Vibration and Control 17 (4): 623-636. Epub ahead of print 8 November 2010. doi: 10.1177/1077546309360053

Liu TY, Chiang WL, Chen CW, Hsu WK, Lu LC and Chu TJ (2011) Identification and monitoring of bridge health from ambient vibration data Journal of Vibration and Control 17 (4): 589-603. Epub ahead of print 12 November 2010. doi: 10.1177/1077546309360049

Lin JW, Huang CW, Shih CH and Chen CY (2011) Fuzzy Lyapunov Stability Analysis and NN Modeling for Tension Leg Platform Systems Journal of Vibration and Control 17 (1): 151-158. Epub ahead of print 25 August 2010. doi: 10.1177/1077546309350477

Lee WI, Chen CY, Kuo HM and Sui YC (2010) The Development of Half-circle Fuzzy Numbers and Application in Fuzzy Control Journal of Vibration and Control 16 (13): 1977-1987. Epub ahead of print 22 April 2010. doi: 10.1177/1077546309349849

This is not the first time we have seen retractions because a researcher managed to do his own peer review.

We’ll update this case as we learn more.

Update, 2:50 Eastern, 7/8/14: SAGE tells us that there may have been 130 fake email accounts involved. Here’s an email Q&A Cat Ferguson did with a SAGE spokesperson:

Aside from Peter Chen, how many other scientists were involved in the ring? 

We do not know the definitive number of individual scientists involved in this ring and cannot verify their identities due to the nature of the accounts registered with ScholarOne. However, we contacted 130 email accounts, a large number of which we believe to be either aliases or fabricated accounts. Many of the named individuals had more than one email address registered on our system.

Throughout the course of the investigation, the authors, co-authors and reviewers were asked to verify their accounts and email addresses provided on ScholarOne. SAGE made a note of suspicious or unresponsive email addresses and accounts. The authors were contacted once again in May 2014 to inform them that their paper/s would be retracted in the July 2014 issue.

All authors and reviewers were given time to respond and we did not receive ORCID verification from any of the 130 email addresses contacted.

Were any papers retracted that were not authored by Chen? 

Yes, and the full list of retracted articles can be found in the retraction notice:

Is there any concern this problem might be more widespread?

We have undertaken a thorough investigation into this peer review ring and are confident that we have uncovered the full extent of the problem. Although attempts to mislead the academic community are extremely rare, there will occasionally be fraudulent and unethical individuals seeking to abuse the system. Both SAGE and Journal of Vibration and Control are committed to upholding the true spirit of peer review while continuing to introduce new measures to reinforce the review process.

Please see an update on this post.

Hat tip: JATdS

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86 thoughts on “SAGE Publications busts “peer review and citation ring,” 60 papers retracted”

  1. Beyond belief. Maybe. I just bet this happens frequently. Because, in today’s world, people are asked to nominate reviewers for articles. And the operative phrase is “On the internet, no one knows that you are a dog”. On the nominated peer review approach, no one knows that you are 2 people, 3 people, 65 people. It’s called the “sock puppet”. And the use of faked collaborators, faked reviewers goes back – Cyril Burt faked research assistants, etc. This is clearly a serious issue.

      1. That’s certainly interesting. I had not read this, and was not aware that the issue had been further considered. It’s certainly good that Burt, an immensely influential scientist during the mid part of the 20th century, was not corrupted by his bias about his own notions.

    1. I always looked up any nominated reviewers that I didn’t know or didn’t know of. I would never have just sent a paper off to someone whose work and credentials I wasn’t either familiar with or that I had become familiar with.

      1. Ken, that attitude is praiseworthy. However, I can indicate that almost 100% of jorunals published by Elsevier and Springer, at least in the plant sciences, require an online submission system that requires that, in most cases, 3-5 “peers” be suggested. In some cases, the reason needs to be indicated, and in extremely few cases, that the reviewer cannot be from the same institute, or country. I have NEVER seen any online submission system that indicates that it is unethical to invite friends, or known scientists. This is an extremely important fact to point out because if the publisher does not explicitly indicate that inviting friends or known scientists as peers, then why should it be deemed unethical? I think that editors and publishers have the right to claim an unethical act if their online submission system clearly indicates that doing so would be considered unethical. Of course, in theory, many among us know and understand that such actions would be considered nepotistic and possibly unethical (i.e., reviewer bias), but a written rule is a written rule and one that is NOT written, strictly speaking does not exist. So, perhaps, the onus and responsibility lies on the publishers? I wonder what the SAGE instructions for authors and online submission system states?

        1. What would help a lot (but not be a panacea) would be double-blind review. Then those reviewing the paper would not know where it came from or who the authors were. OK, they might sometimes be able to guess, but to do so they would have to actually read the paper. Double blinding helped reduce bias in clinical trials, and should be standard for journal reviewing as well.

          1. Michael, I agree with you 100% and in my most recent paper I have championed for the use of double-blind peer review (or even better, identification of peers’ names and reports in open access as done by f1000Research), pre-publication peer review and post-publication peer review to be part of a new standard publishing model. But my requests to editors or EICs of many major plant science journals has fallen on deaf ears. One has to think why the editors, societies running these journas, or the publishers themselves don’t request the journals to make the process double blind. I don’t want to list the actual plant science journals that don’t conduct blind or even double blind review, because that list would enter the hundreds of titles.

          2. Thank you JATdS.
            In his global survey on the attitudes and behaviour of 3040 academics in relation to peer review in journals,

            Mark Ware wrote
            “Double-blind review was preferred. Changes to peer review in recent years (such as the growth of double-blind review, and the introduction of open and post-publication review) have attempted to improve the system. Asked which of the four peer review types was their most preferred option, there was a preference for double-blind review, with 56% selecting this, followed by 25% for single-blind, 13% for open and 5% for post-publication review. Open peer review was an active discouragement for many reviewers, with 47% saying that disclosing their name to the author would make them less likely to review.”

            At the time, an editorial in Nature commented on this report

          3. Thanks Michael, for reference to that study. So much is being published nowadays on these topics that it is literally impossible to stay in tune with all that is said. I would disagree with the position of the last 47% but only because their perception is different than mine. Open peer review, as I see it as being most efficient, would work best when the entire peer review process is double-blind, thus removing all actual or potential COIs. Once the paper was to be accepted, and ideally it would have to be more than a unanimous vote, so a 100% approval by all peers, ten the identities of peers could be revealed. This might or might not be a pleasant surprise, but since the system was double-blind, no-one would be able to claim bias. If peers were indicated that their identities would be concealed only until after the paper was accepted, I suspect that that 47% could be much, much lower. In that sense, the f1000Research open peer review system is flawed, and needs to simply list the reviewers as A, B and C until the approval is known. Conversely, in my proposed system, a rejection wold never reveal the identities, and the current f1000Research system reveals the identities of those peers that reject, which tends to project them in a somewhat negative aura.

      2. Ken, I’m with you. As an (outgoing) Associate Editor of the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America I never, ever, Ever used a reviewer whose identity I couldn’t verify. I guess I’m spoiled by being in a relatively small field (speech acoustics and perception) where everyone knows everyone, AEing for a journal where I handle relatively few (~20) papers a year. This case just boggles my mind.

  2. These 60 papers were doubtless great for the metrics of the individuals and the institution. This is a stark warning to those who wish to use metrics to evaluate research. Such metrics will be manipulated to climb up institutional league tables and gain financial reward.

    1. Metrics are not altogether a bad thing. They provide useful knowledge about rough parameters such as productivity, or even a rough level of comparison (relative to other national or global leaders). Thus, use of a metric like the impact factor is not altogether bad, since all competitors would be assessed by the same parameters. The problem with the impact factor and other metrics that are open to abuse, is not with the metrics themselves, but rather with the users of those metrics (or rather their abuse). I then thought to myself, what is happening in a system that is making scientists feel like you do, i.e., that metrics are a bad way (or at least not the best way) to assess research. That is why I devised the Global Science Factor*, which would take into account the impact factor and some other metrics (because they are important, like it or not), but give them a relative weighting alongside other important parameters that could be used to assess the productivity or positive nature of a researcher. RW readers will notice, on page 3, section 3.2.3., that a negative score is assigned to retractions.


  3. Is this really a “ring” if this was one individual who went to extreme lengths to game the system? I doubt this happens too frequently as it requires a lot of work on the part of the party committing the hoax and the risk far outweighs the reward. Perhaps I’m being naive. Still, it shows it CAN happen if those with oversight of the peer review process take their eye off the ball. Also, wide adoption of ORCID would have helped show that the fake reviewers had no history and it might’ve helped avoid this entire situation.

    1. Except that anyone can create a fake ORCID account. The notice says that at least one author or reviewer of each retracted paper was involved. There are duplicates but I don’t think this was one bad actor.

      1. You’re right Angela, but as you say below regarding a Google Scholar search, ORCID will show the journal is there is any history related to the person being used as a reviewer. It will be interesting to see more details as they become public. I’m curious how many individuals were involved and what steps SAGE has taken.

        1. For science, what is claimed is supposed to be more important than who claimed it. Therefore, a referee’s history is not an excuse for editors and publishers not reading the submissions and verifying them and verifying the refereeing reports.

        2. Also, it is possible to link an ORCID iD with an individual’s employer/educational institution (including an organization iD and start/end dates). Publishers can query an ORCID record during manuscript or review submission to assess an individual’s affiliation. ORCID will later this year be supporting validation of person-organization links by ORCID member organizations. More on validation and organization IDs here:; and more on provenance in ORCID records here:

    2. When you find authors who has not registered with ORCID, it is possible to register accounts in their names. ORCID is a good initiative, but is not designed to provide validation to real world identities. So it isn’t a reliable way of vaiidating reviewers.

  4. Here’s the thing. If you use a suggested reviewer from the author provided list and you have never heard of that person, you should do a quick Google Scholar search to see what they have published. If these are fake names, as opposed to real names commandeered without the person’s knowledge, there would be no publication history. Most editors would be reluctant to use a reviewer they have never heard of that has never published anything. Now, once the fake reviewer got a few reviews under their belt, an editor would be less suspicious and maybe assign new papers. I would love to know how they suspected this reviewer and what steps they took to make the system more secure.

    1. Traditional peer review is heading for the grave. Time to think of something new and stop peddling systems like ORCID that do nothing except disguise the fraud. Stop militirizing the system and stop financially gaming it, and you will find that science will liberate itself. Self-correction will however involve a massive period of bleeding, exemplified by retractions and conflicts, but it will recover and self-correct, I believe. The serious problem is that criminals like Peter Chen, who I could not seem to equate clearly with any of the authors (P-C Chen?) resigns AFTER he games the system. He most likely had a juicy salary for years, a fixed position, travel and research grants. Academic criminals like him are allowed to walk the streets free while critics like me get whipped in public, mocked among peers, and banned from journals we most criticize. The system is cockied, and there is only one way forward for justice that the last year has taught me: rough justice, raw and crude (sorry, I guess I wasn’t born to be diplomatic)

    2. A quick Google scholar is hardly enough! In addition to publications in a trustworthy journal, current job/academic appointment should be verified and a professional email should be obtained independently… As the bare minimum! Just as I shake my head when a journal points fingers because they didn’t confirm authorship with all listed authors, the jjournal must be blamed here for not verifying the quality of reviewers.

      I’m surprised that the EIC is made out to be a hero when his journal was employing fake reviewers.

      To jatds… Is it fair to lump this in with traditional peer review? When editors lack the expertise to solicit reviews from real experts, I would call it a bastardization of peer review, not the traditional model.

      1. qqq, true, a slightly broad generalization on my part. But since we don’t know how frequent or how wide the “bastardization of peer review” is taking place, nor since we do not know if real peer review is taking place by journals that claim to conduct peer review, the onus is on the publishers to PROVE that traditional peer review is functional, and healthy. That does not mean that we should be any less critical of scientists who abuse the system for their good, their metrics or the metrics of their institute or country. How many journals, editors, or publishers have shown the “peer” reports? Especially of retracted papers that demand a fully transparent analysis of the entire process, including the peer reports? Allow me to assist you: ZERO. And this includes all the big shots like Elsevier and Springer. Because they are too afriad to show their own weaknesses and prefer to show the weaknesses of scientists (e.g., through more quantifiable plagiarism). Provided that such publishers are allowed to publish with the power of villification (and can thus not be held fully accountable), we, the scientists, are unable to demand them to reveal their journals’ peer review reports, and even reviewers’ identitites. Sorry to say, my faith in traditional peer review is rapidly declining. This is my basal stance: trust no-one, including editors and publishers (I have seen far too many exceptions to believe that the rule is firmly intact).

        1. We can demand refereeing reports. Are we entitled to refereeing reports?

          Instead of refereeing, the book Sheila Jasanoff, “Science at the Bar: Law, Science, and Technology in America”, Twentieth Centry Fund, Inc., 1995 reported about peer reviewing. From Pages 246-247:

          “20. In an unrelated but perhaps symptomatic event, the first direct challenge to the confidentiality of the National Science Foundation’s peer review system was filed under the Privacy Act in February 1994. See Eliot Marshall, “Researchers Sue to Get Reviewer Names,” “Science” 263 (1994), 747.”

      2. We have a significant number of practitioners as reviewers as well as retired professor. They don’t have an institutional email address to require. I would like to see a double email requirement but I can’t get past this hump. The scholarly publishing model is still based on trust and as such, can be taken advantage of.

        1. Angela, who is “we” that you describe? Are you associated with this journal or publisher in any official way?

      3. Dear Qqq: how does a trustworthy journal become untrustworthy? Via an old-boy network like what you described as a solution.

    3. Google Scholar was easily exploited as shown by
      Emilio Delgado López-Cózar; Nicolás Robinson-García; and Daniel Torres-Salinas, “The Google Scholar experiment: How to index false papers and manipulate bibliometric indicators”, “Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology”, Volume 65, Issue 3, Pages 446-454, March 2014,

      1. If true, then can Google Scholar be called out for not dealing with this problem? Or is Google only about archiving anything, without assuming any responsibility? I guess the same principle would apply to Amazon, too. Should these massive corporations be held accountable for allowng bad science or even proven fraudulent science to appear as open access (former) or as a pay-per-download (latter)?

  5. JVC retracts more than 10% of the articles published in 2013. And I suppose SAGE never made plans to compensate the subscribers in such a case.
    Other concern regarding the metrics (see the above ferniqlab’s comment): the massive retraction happens just 2 weeks before the release of updated impact factors in the JCR. I assume that computations are over, and that all retracted JVC papers published in 2013 and 2012 have been considered as citable items. The reliability of the IF for JVC will thus be questionable, unless Thomson Reuters implemented a specific process allowing last-minute computations.

    1. Web of Science counts not only retracted articles as citable items, but I am also aware of a paper which was not retracted which Web of Science wrongly claimed was retracted. The supposed retraction note of this paper explicitly contained a statement that it is not a retraction.

  6. The secret is to establish one of these rings in a way that isn’t so easily detected.
    Next time you go to a conference, tell the plenary speaker/honcho/academy member that you were the “nice” reviewer on the paper they recently submitted to Cell/Science/Nature/PNAS. (If they ask you which manuscript it was, just say that it wouldn’t be ethical to discuss specifics.) Say that you admire their work and would always recommend acceptance. Make sure they remember your name. Then, whenever you submit a paper, suggest them as a reviewer – the journal editors will be impressed, as they are ‘leaders in the field’. If Cell/Science/Nature/PNAS subsequently asks you to review a paper from the honcho’s lab, you can accept it without even having to read it! If the paper is published, congratulate the honcho at the next international meeting. If it’s rejected (by the other reviewers) then commiserate with them.
    Soon you will belong to a group of sympathetic reviewers who scratch each others’ backs. You’ll be publishing in the big journals yourself now, because you get glowing reviews from the other leaders in the field. You’ll soon be invited to write reviews, give plenary talks, and join the editorial boards of the prestigious journals yourself.

    1. Dear Michael, I understand that your advice is only a tongue-in-cheek suggestion. But I wonder how many reading this blog, for example from developng countries, might use your advice to advance their publishing agendas in the next meeting they attend? Your “advice” and methodology on how to achieve success could also be used by leading scientists, too. Your last sentence was particularly interesting for me (“You’ll soon be invited to write reviews, give plenary talks, and join the editorial boards of the prestigious journals yourself.”). Especially since most of the editors and journals I have queried have point blank failed to provide a suitable explanation about how editors are vetted to editor boards, how invited reviews are invited, how special issues are established, and how scientists are invited, or even selected to those special issues. The perfect case, in the plant sciences, is Elsevier’s Scientia Horticulturae, some of those conflicts which I have already documented (rather painfully) here at RW*. I should also add that there is alot of shoulder rubbing taking place in ISHS meetings, and this is one of the reasons why I am battling this society since it is unclear how decisions are made about inclusion of papers in their proceedings journal, Acta Horticulturae.

      1. Jaime wrote: “Your “advice” and methodology on how to achieve success could also be used by leading scientists, too. Your last sentence was particularly interesting for me (“You’ll soon be invited to write reviews, give plenary talks, and join the editorial boards of the prestigious journals yourself.”). Especially since most of the editors and journals I have queried have point blank failed to provide a suitable explanation about how editors are vetted to editor boards, how invited reviews are invited, how special issues are established, and how scientists are invited, or even selected to those special issues.”
        I would like to draw your attention to a recent quote of Richard Gill in a topic on recent retrations of Peter Nijkamp ( ):
        “Most of the published books are conference proceedings volumes. They usually contain a number of papers by the editors of the volume. The same small circle of people simply distribute the roles of editor and author of among one another and often take on both roles.”
        The quote refers to the huge amount of papers published by Peter Nijkamp of VU Amsterdam and his PhD student Karima Kourtit. See for critics on their work (in Dutch).
        Please note that Peter Nijkamp can mobilize alot of allies, see
        Journalist Frank van Kolfschooten states in blog ( ) that this letter of support (signed by in total 84 economists) in a good example of ‘the old boys network.’

    2. @michaehbriggs @JATdS : I assume that Michael is disclosing the reality! Unofficial peer review ring!

    3. Besides being unethical, this “secret” approach is unlikely to work and may well backfire for a couple of reasons.

      First, if the bigwig is ethical, the gambit will fail and possibly backfire. The bigwig will either ignore the trickster’s advances (if perceived to be minor) or mark the trickster as an unethical actor to be shunned or even actively investigated.

      Second, even if the bigwig is unethical, the gambit is likely to fail and possibly backfire. The bigwig is already successful and most likely doesn’t need or want this trickster around — there is nothing to be gained and much to be lost by associating with someone who is (1) relatively unsuccessful and (2) untrustworthy. So, the bigwig may play along in conversations with the trickster to keep from being targeted by this untrustworthy individual while actively cutting down the trickster in paper and funding reviews to make the trickster even less successful and drive the trickster from the field.

  7. This is what can happen when journals ask authors to provide names of reviewers. Editors need to find their own reviewers.

    1. Sometimes it is nice to have some help with that. But, again, never without verifying the identity and credentials of the reviewers you are interested in using.

  8. Unfortunately this doesn’t mean the work was invalid, just that the worker was unethical. Now someone will have to redo the bits that seemed to make sense, but fight the impression it is all bogus even when positive results come in.

  9. Chiang W-L is the current Minister of Education (head of Ministry of Education) of Taiwan. Let’s hope he’s not involved.

    1. Right. Great catch, Ken F.

      The affiliation of Wei-Ling Chiang in five retracted JVC papers is:
      “Department of Civil Engineering, National Central University, Chungli, Taiwan”.

      And the CV of the current Minister of Education of the Republic of China (Taiwan), Dr. Wei-Ling Chiang mentions:
      * Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, NCU (1992-)
      * Acting President, NCU (2008-2009)
      * President, NCU (2009-2012)

      Now, should a Minister of Education really read the papers in which he appears as a co-author?

      1. I am a professor in Taiwan and a chief editor for a journal, so this is of great interest to me. Here are some information I discovered.
        1. Looking through the list of 60 papers. I noticed that some of the papers are single-authored, and from what I can see, all these single-authored papers are authored by one of 2 persons: Cheng-Yuan Chen (Chen C-Y) of NPEU and Cheng-Wu Chen (Chen C-W) of National Kaohsiung Marine University in Taiwan. As far as I can see, at least one of these 2 persons (sometimes both) always appeared in each of the 60 papers.
        2. In local news, the education minister, Chiang, just explained to the press this morning that he knew nothing of these fraudulent papers (a dubious claim for a co-author), but Cheng-Wu Chen was his former student and brother of Cheng-Yuan Chen! (So the minister does know something.)
        I, for one, hope this discovery will bring positive reforms in academic peer review, which we all know is not perfect. For one thing, I never use a reviewer suggested by authors, unless I know this person.

        1. I am curious that do those 130 faked accounts were only used in JVC?
          Based on the search results in Web of Science, I find JVC and Natural Hazards are the top 2 journals publish CW Chen’s and CY Chen’s articles during 2011-2014. The number of papers co-authored by WL Chiang in Natural Hazard is even greater than that in JVC.

          Will SAGE share the information of 130 faked accounts to the publisher of Natural Hazards, Springer?
          If Natural Hazards discovers their articles authored by CW Chen and CY Chen related to the existed or new suspicious e-mail addresses, will the Springer retract their articles?

          I think this worth of another “WOW”, if Taiwan’s government do not investigate this issue actively and wait until the RetractionWatch or Springer discover this.

          I am a reader of Natural Hazard, it’s interesting to know what a great paper can be accepted to publish in only 15 days:
          Received: 7 October 2012 / Accepted: 22 October 2012 / Published online: 9 November 2012

          BTW, the corresponding author of this article is CW Chen.

          1. This is not the only paper that has been accepted with 15 days review process. I have checked CW Chen’s publication in Natural Hazards, he has 8 papers being accepted with review cycles around 1 month. Between July-Aug. 2012, he at least submitted 5 papers to NH. Four of them are accepted within 1 month, and one is accepted at Dec. 2012. I am not a reader of this Springer NH. Can anyone comment on this?

          2. As my personal experience, the NH often takes 2 to 5 months to complete the review process.
            That’s why I suspect that those suspicious e-mail addresses in JVC or the gimmick of setting up fake identities for self-reviewing were also used in other journals. As that has been discovered by SAGE about the reviews from individuals using those suspicious e-mail addresses:
            Sherman says. “We also checked the wording of reviews written by those individuals, as well as the time it took to complete the review,” he says, which in some cases amounted to “a few minutes.”
            In ScienceInsider (

            Also, I suspect those suspicious e-mail addresses were only managed by one or two people, CY Chen and CW Chen. I feel that the 130 faked accounts might be created by one or two individuals, but they are managed by a ring that contains more than two professors (many co-authors in CY Chen’s and CW Chen’s retracted articles are also university faculties, most of them are senior than the two brothers).

            If the faked accounts really existed in NH (I have no comment on this), here is my personal guess about the schedule that the brothers managed to run the review process in 2012.
            Why many papers submitted to NH were during Jul.–Oct.? Because “professors in the ring” have more spare time to run those faked accounts during the summer break. Why those manuscripts submitted to NH were accepted no later than Dec.? I guess those “professors in the ring” need those “summer efforts” to be reflected on time in their proposals submitted to the National Science Council.

            Do the NPUE further dig into this issue? I guess no, because CY Chen’s publications in Web of Science (search “Chen CY” AND “NPUE” during 2011-2013) is about 40% (60/151) of the entire university (search “NPUE” only during 2011-2013). It’s a big hurt if all of them were retracted.

          3. Lugo asked:
            “If Natural Hazards discovers their articles authored by CW Chen and CY Chen related to the existed or new suspicious e-mail addresses, will the Springer retract their articles?”

            Last year I informed Springer of something it publishes related to a breach of copyright, and related to incorrectly derived equations. Even today (14th July 2014) Springer had shown no expression of concern nor a correction nor a retraction for it.

            For another example of misconduct by Springer, read

        2. Is there any “money bonus” for a peer review publication in Taiwan? I know there is in Mainland China: RMB10,000 per impact factor.

      2. My concern is, is it truly the same person? Alot of Taiwanese have the first name Wei-Ling and equally as many have the family name Chiang. If not, then apologies extened to the Minister of Education. If true, this could be as big a case as the German scandals… it would be nice of some science activists from Taiwan could delve deeper into this, perhaps also comparing the Chinese characters of the names to be certain.

        1. He certainly is, as he has appeared in a press conference to say these “genuine” papers are made under the supervision of him, though he claims to know nothing of this scam. He should at least be suspended (for this ethical issue and other reasons) for investigation. What a disgrace.

          1. If WL Chiang knows nothing of this scam, then a veritable question is raised: what actual responsibilities did he have as a co-author? One would assume that most MInisters of Education have little free time on their hands, so his washing-his-hands of any link to the situation goes counter to the collective responsibilities of authors within a paper, and thus against the authorship norms of some established rules, e.g., ICMJE. I did not see any of the authorship contribution statements of any of the 60 retracted papers (assuming that there were even any at all), but this issue should be clarified, ie., what exactly did each author do. The second issue that pertains to the sudden disapperance of Dr. Chiang’s CV from the internet, is where can we find a full listing of all of his publications? Without a doubt, someone should drop a small note to the EIC of Natural Hazards, and examine if the same “insider trading” took place there with respect to Chiang’s related papers. Actually, I will do this myself, right now and will keep you posted.

          2. I gave a heads-up to the Natural Hazards editors and to the Springer management. They thanked me, and promised to investigate. Will update if available.

          3. Jaime, the current Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations of The Netherlands is dr. Ronald Plasterk. Plasterk got his PhD in 1984. Plasterk stopped with being a scientist (ao, professor of developmental genetics at Utrecht University) when he was appointed as Minister of Education (on 22 February 2007, see also
            Pubmed lists 210 publications of Ronald Plasterk (
   ). His most recent publication is (please note the huge amount of authors). Pubmed lists only 2 publications of Plasterk with 2008 as year of publication (all others predate 2008).

          4. Klaas, are you trying to suggest that the current Dutch Minister of Education’s papers need to also be investigated? Now that the Taiwanese Minister of Education has resigned, maybe it is time for scientists of each and every country to investigate the papers published by the members of their Ministries of Education. IF the fraud is at the top, then how can we honestly expect the everyday scientists to be forced to act ethically? First Germany, now Taiwan, next is who?

          5. “Next is who” .Well if countries known for their seriousness fall into this kind of acts , I’ll let you guess the situation in countries that are , let’s say ,less rigorous in their investigation.

          6. Research fraud rings who verify redundant, plagiarized and fraudulent publications is the norm for some, and honest scientists find themselves helpless in the face of misconduct. It is the obligation of scientists in the developed world to expose all forms of misconduct including the addition of famous foreign authors’ names- with or without their knowledge- to publications they had nothing to do with.

          7. I don’t think it is the developed world scientist only who should fight these unethical acts.Developing world scientists are part of the game and should be held accountable as much as their counterpart of the North.

          8. Sure there will “a next”. But no need worry, we vast majority of scientists around the world are good.

          9. Jaime, excuse me very much for the misunderstanding.

            I tried to argue that Ronald Plasterk (formerly Minister of Education, now Minister of the Interiors) is not listed anymore as co-author since he became part of the government of The Netherlands (with just a single exception), so in contrast with Chiang Wei-ling.

            I even hold the opinon that Ronald Plasterk has very strong views on the ethical behaviour of scientists.

            (1): we have a tiny groups of creationists in The Netherlands. Some of them have an appointment at a Dutch university. These creationists will never ever want to have a debate in public with Ronald Plasterk, as they know for sure that Ronald Plasterk will hammer down all their arguments. All will go out of their league to prevent to have such a debate in public with Ronald Plasterk.

            (2): is a link to an excellent interview with Ronald Plasterk in September 1997 (when still scientist) with a biologist of Utrecht University, Roel van Wijk, on a paper about a homeopatic topic published by Roel van Wijk. A highly recommended interview, the debating technique of Ronald Plasterk is marvellous (all is in Dutch).

          10. Well done, Jaime. I hope our humble island (Taiwan) do have more serious professors like you who care about integrity in scientific research.

          11. Dear Hasting, thanks for those words, but honestly, I am nothing. I am just one more keg in the massive science machinery, like everyone else trying to understand the mess that science is in, and why it’s in that mess. Admittedly I make a lot of noise, and some really dislike me for that, and I am also quite prolific in my comments (sorry for that), but in a sea of plant scientists who are too unwilling or afraid to admit that there are problems, the only way to raise awareness is to speak loudly, and clearly. Even if it means making enemies within and among peers and colleagues. It is time for them to decide, to sacrifice in the name of science, and not, unlike the Taiwanese Minister, in the name of one’s own reputation (how selfish of him!). That said, and it is very, very important to note thatis, that there are excellent, truly brilliant Taiwanese plant scientists, many of whom I respect, and in fact quite a high concentration of ornamental and orchid scientists whose work I admire, that do not fall into the same category as this Minister. So, as scientists and those in the general public who are critical of fraudulent scientists or individuals who are involved in misconduct, one should be aware that not all individuals from that country are the same. I guess humans tend to generalize when they see such cases, but they should not. On the other hand, I also admit that scientists make errors, but this sounds like way beyond an error. It was an intentional manipulation and fraud. So, this distinction also needs to be made.

          12. JATdS submitted:
            “[. . .] like everyone else trying to understand the mess that science is in, and why it’s in that mess. Admittedly I make a lot of noise, and some really dislike me for that, and I am also quite prolific in my comments (sorry for that), but in a sea of plant scientists who are too unwilling or afraid to admit that there are problems, the only way to raise awareness is to speak loudly, and clearly. [. . .]”

            You do not need to be sorry for being ethical.

  10. Unfortunately, “DIE ZEIT” (a newspaper) does not have a newspaper article about these retractions by SAGE. However, a website of this newspaper does have a gratis article about these retractions:
    “Manipulation: Wissenschaftsjournal zieht 60 Studien zurück”,

    Alas, the reporter is not or the reporters are not identified.

    I submitted some comments on that website on this topic:

    The same publisher also publishes a magazine called “ZEIT Wissen”. The latest issue is from before these retractions. I hope that the next issue shall have a copy of this article. (I did not find a newsagent within circa 70km of where I am located which sells “ZEIT Wissen”. If “ZEIT Wissen” did or shall report any scientific retraction I would appreciate being informed and I would also pay for a copy plus postage.)

    1. The latest “Zeit Wissen” did not contain anything about retractions, albeit it had a big feature about Diederik Stapel, who had held a speech at Utrecht University. But if you want to be kept informed about the subject, you could consult LexisNexis, which carries the contents of “Die Zeit” and “Zeit Wissen” the day they are published.

  11. This is just a small obscure journal. The bigger problems are general fraud in the scientific community at large. As William Broad and Nicholas Wade showed in their book “Betrayers of the Truth: Fraud and Deceit in the Halls of Science” fraud is quite common through all ages. Statistics that say that it has increased in absolute terms overlook that it may have stayed quite constant in relative terms. However, since most scientists now rely on statistics software and EXCEL as a “one-size-fits-all” tool to model ever more complex correlations, mistakes are getting more frequent even if no fraud was intended. Rogoff’s EXCEL calculations of state debt seem to be affected as much as Piketty’s conclusions -but what about the millions of data sets that no one really bothers to recalculate?

  12. The openness allowed by the Internet could lead to such shenanigans. Be sure that ( bad ) human nature will always prevail. Could Hwang Woo Suk , Jan Hendrik Schön ,Imanishi-Kari ( and countless others ) be only the tip of the iceberg ? .What astonish me is the fact such a big company as SAGE could have fallen for such a scam !!!!! As scientist , our first duty is to comdemn such acts with the utmost energy.

  13. Reblogged this on Robert McGrath's Blog and commented:
    As we virtualize research institutions and processes, then we are inevitably lowering the standards of trust and integrity, down to those o fthe Internet (which is basically–none at all). The particular “ring” discussed here is a crude effort. Why bother with humans at all, when we can make bots to write, submit, and review our “science” for us. Much more efficient than slow, meat-based science.

  14. There is no need to set up fake identities that could potentially be exposed; all that is required is a ring of mutually approving cronies who suggest one another as referees, and recommend publication with no or minor changes when asked to review their cronies’ submissions. Which possibly accounts for the “publish as is” comments by two referees on a paper that was riddled with basic errors and faulty calculations, on which I was the third referee.

    1. It is important to note the difference between the establishment of a pseudonym/e-mail by a scientist to hide one’s identity, the establishment of a false name/e-mail to make anonymous reports, and the creation of a false name/e-mail to cheat the system (e.g., online submission or peer reviewer). I suspect (gut feeling) that publishers and defensive editors will have little appetite to defend the existence of the former two as a result of the power of the latter. This case will take the militarization of science one step deeper into darkness as anonymity will become more bedeviled.

  15. As an editor I often receive referees suggestions with gmail or yahoo accounts… which I find suspicious and would never use. Also imagine a case in which Pr. G.V. Smith is a known and respected expert in the field. One may list him as a potential referee, with a correct affiliation… You may check his/her credentials, they are legit, and the expert is not a collaborator of the corresponding author.
    Except that the email listed is a fake one created by the author himself !

    I would strongly encourage (and possibly enforce) a policy in which the emails used for scientific correspondance must be professional addresses. We have received submissions from the same author, always with different corresponding email addresses; this is weird.

    1. Given the amount of institution hopping that happens these day, this may be impractical. I use my gmail account for most correspondence- I don’t really trust my Duke email address. (Has a nasty habit of crashing, as have the majority of institutional email accounts I have had over the years.) Also, I’ve seen institutions suddenly cut off email addresses of scientists in what amounts to power plays. It’s a tricky situation, though- hard to verify non-institutional email accounts. Maybe some sort of permanent, government issued email accounts for scientific correspondance?

    2. I believe that most of the developing world’s scientists use free mail accounts? The association between a yahoo, gmail or rediffmail account and a bad scientist is baseless.

      1. Like Allison, many use their free email accounts even if they have institutional email addresses. This is more so in students as they have so many other social media activities (not that other don’t actively participate in social media activities). I urge them to use university email addresses in all official correspondences. I am aware of the fact that some universities provide life time email accounts for students who have graduated from the university. Unfortunately, for faculty members, once they leave the university email account is usually terminated on the last day…

  16. There are numerous referees who openly communicate with the author when they review the author’s submission. I have received emails from a few colleagues at other universities, saying, “Sam, I have just finished reviewing your paper and I have written a good review for you”. What does he mean? He means that whenever I review his paper, I should write a good review for him!

    1. First of all the review should be on the merits of the paper ( not the person).On the other hand , we should, as honest scientists, report this kind of behaviour to whoever is in charge. Anybody who does not , is an accomplice and should be dealt with accordingly.PERIOD

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