So far, we’ve counted more than 300 papers that have been retracted after editors suspected the peer-review process had been compromised — and we’re adding three more to the list.
Editors of the Journal of Food Processing and Preservation became suspicious of the three papers after discovering similarities in reports from supposedly different reviewers. When they were unable to verify the identities of the reviewers, they pulled the papers.
An editor told us that he thinks the reviewer identities were fabricated entirely (as opposed to stolen):
I think reviewers were made up with fake names.
The above article, published online on 27 March 2015 in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com), has been retracted by agreement between the journal Editors in Chief, Charles Brennan and Brijesh K. Tiwari, and Wiley Periodicals, Inc. The retraction has been agreed due to evidence indicating that the peer review of this paper was compromised. It is believed that the paper was accepted based on recommendations from reviewers not suitably qualified.
The paper has been cited three times, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science.
The text of the notices for the other papers is the same, with the exception of the publication date. All share one author — J. Prakash Maran at the Kongu Engineering College in India.
The other papers are:
- “Optimization of Mass Transfer Parameters during Osmotic Dehydration of Momordica Charantia Slices,” published in October 2015 and has not been cited. Here’s the retraction notice.
- “Multiple Response Analysis and Optimization of Microwave-Assisted Extraction of Antioxidant Phenolic Compounds of Waste Mangifera indica L Peel,” published in December 2015 and has been cited twice. Here’s the retraction notice.
Editor Brijesh Tiwari told us how to problem came to light:
Looking at the reviewers report to the paper which was very similar for all three papers. This raised the suspicion on authenticity of the reviewers.
He told us that they were not able to verify the identity of the reviewers:
The reviewers were not genuine because EIC contacted reviewers and there was no response from the reviewer. Moreover, these reviewers never existed i.e. their affiliation was forged and [their] email address were not associated with any institution.
Tiwari could not confirm which authors (or other parties) were involved in compromising the peer review:
[It] is difficult to establish who did it.
He added advice that we hear often from editors who have had a brush with a peer review scam:
Official affiliation and email address is important and normally we should not select suggested reviewers.
We have reached out to Maran for comment, and will update this post with anything else we learn.
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