“Rigging of the peer-review process” kills parasite paper


A paper on nematode parasites appears to have been infected with a nasty strain of a publishing problem known as fake peer review. By our count, the phenomenon has felled approximately 250 papers in total.

The affected review, “The important role of matrix metalloproteinases in nematode parasites,” explores a type of enzyme secreted by the parasite. Published in Helminthologia, it’s been cited once, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Unfortunately, the retraction note doesn’t give us too many details about how the peer review process was manipulated:

This article has been retracted by the Editor in Chief on the grounds of professional misconduct and rigging of the peer-review process. The Editorial Office apologizes to the readers for any inconvenience it may have caused.

We emailed the editor-in-chief and the corresponding author, Mojtaba Anvarinejad from the Shiraz University of Medical Sciences for more details, and we’ll update this post if we hear back.

In past cases of manipulation in peer review, we’ve seen language like “fake reviewer details“fake email addresses” and “fabricated peer review reports” in retraction notices. Our Nature feature from last year explained how scientists can exploit the submissions software to set up accounts for reviewers who don’t exist.

Currently, the new retraction note does not appear on the paper on Springer’s website, the publisher at the time (the journal has since been transferred to DeGruyter). A spokesperson for the publisher told us:

Our production team is currently working on this matter and as soon as all necessary technical measures are taken, the article will be marked with the retraction note from DeGruyter.

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