Journal blacklists doctor in Pakistan ‘out of an abundance of caution’

Following an investigation into possible paper mill activities, the journal Cureus has barred a doctor in Pakistan from publishing more papers “out of an abundance of caution,” Retraction Watch has learned.

The journal investigated Satish Kumar, an internist at Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Medical College in Karachi, after a tipster accused him of selling authorship of scientific papers to scientists who did not participate in the research. 

The tipster, who wishes to remain anonymous to avoid backlash from the authors of these papers, sent Cureus WhatsApp messages from a group called “research Match Residency.” There, a user named ”SSS” sent paper titles and offered author slots on manuscripts. Many of the articles were slated for publication in Cureus

The tipster also shared the WhatsApp messages with Retraction Watch, telling us:

I have known Dr. Satesh Kumar for a couple of years and previously had his contact information saved in my phone. Upon his online advertisements in various WhatsApp groups, I recognized the name already saved in my phone from our prior communication. 

Graham Parker, director of Publishing and Customer Success at Cureus, told Retraction Watch:

We conducted a thorough investigation and were unable to confirm these allegations. However, the circumstantial evidence presented to the journal was, out of an abundance of caution, enough to warrant the rejection of any in-progress article submissions that involved Dr. Kumar. Additionally, Dr. Kumar’s Cureus account was permanently suspended. 

Several of the paper titles advertised in the WhatsApp group match papers in Cureus, according to screenshots and a video shared with Retraction Watch. Satish Kumar (spelled Satesh Kumar in two of the articles) is listed as an author on all of the papers, which include: 

However, Parker stated that the journal did not find “irrefutable proof” authorship slots were “sold on any articles submitted to or published in Cureus.”

He added:

All authors that were questioned stated they had no knowledge of any such activity and extensive working materials were produced showing the collaborative work by the authors. As a result, the journal found no basis for retraction.

In response to the findings of the investigation, Kumar told Retraction Watch by email:

I certainly deny all allegations for which i have provided all the material and proof to Cureus and Mr parker in cureus. There is no single proof where they can prove i am included in any of such allegations. I have all materials and i am open to arrange and speak on call as well to give more explanation. I have already provided all materials to Mr Parker and [Cureus reviewer] Prof guistino Varassi. I am more than ready to provide an explanation and evidences to you as well considering, i am innocent and have no such involvement. 

However, Kumar refused to go on the record during a subsequent call with Retraction Watch. Later, he wrote by email:

I sent emails to journal that if they dont have anything proven, they should unban me, however i can’t force someone to do because they are the owner of their journal. 

The tipster also accused Kumar of using AI to author at least a portion of six of his more recent papers, which the tipster checked using the app GPT Zero, a tool that has proven accurate at flagging machine-generated medical text. Based on the abstracts of these papers, the use of AI varied from 65% to 97%.

On March 7, Parker wrote in an email to the tipster:

I’d like to once again thank you for your dedication to scientific integrity and fairness. We have conducted a thorough review regarding potential use of generative AI tools in Satesh Kumar’s articles and are unable to make a conclusive determination. ZeroGPT, GPTZero and similar tools cannot be relied upon in this regard as they have been shown to produce many false positives (perhaps most famously indicating that the United States Constitution was written by AI), but they also do not distinguish between generative AI tools (such as ChatGPT) and proofreading tools such as Grammarly.

As a result, we do not intend to take any further action regarding these articles. However, Dr. Kumar’s account will remain permanently suspended out of an abundance of caution, as the journal no longer wishes to work with him in any capacity. Thanks again for your time and energy on this.

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4 thoughts on “Journal blacklists doctor in Pakistan ‘out of an abundance of caution’”

  1. A complete disgrace to the Pakistani researchers community. These guys are selling manuscripts with fake data just for the sake of money with thousand of patients lifes at stake.

    1. All for the US Medical residency race. Students barely out of med school but with 50-80 meta analysis and systematic review with no actual senior author.

      This will be soon a thing of the past as there are strong plans to put a limit on number of publications they can enter in eras.

  2. This guy is running a paper mill. The only journals he publish in is Cureus or Current Problems in cardiology. Just check this papers and you can see a pattern. Only review articles or poorly written letter to editors.

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