Sixteen papers are being retracted across three Elsevier journals after the publisher discovered that one of the authors, Khalid Zaman, orchestrated fake peer reviews by submitting false contact information for his suggested reviewers.
This particular kind of scam has been haunting online peer review for a few years now, as loyal Retraction Watch readers know. This one is a classic of the genre: According to Elsevier’s director of publishing services, Catriona Fennell, an editor first became suspicious after noticing that Zaman’s suggested reviewers, all with non-institutional addresses, were unusually kind to the economist’s work.
Elsevier has actually hired a full-time staff member with a PhD in physics and history as a managing editor to do the grunt work on cases like this. Flags were first raised in August, at which point the ethics watchdog went to town digging through all of Zaman’s other publications looking for suspicious reviews coming from non-institutional addresses provided by the scientist, an economist at COMSATS Information Technology Center in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Renewable Energy may cover conservation, but that doesn’t mean it expects its authors to recycle their own words. The Elsevier journal is retracting a biodiesel paper it published in February 2012 by a group of Chinese researchers who published much the same work in another title a month later. That periodical, the Journal of the American Oil Chemists Society, from Springer, has retracted its version as well.
Today, on Thanksgiving in the U.S., Retraction Watch is taking a bit of a holiday as we dig into some turkey — not to be confused with retractions from Turkey. We’d like to give thanks for the thousands of Retraction Watch readers all over the world who’ve helped us shine a spotlight on the scientific process, warts and all.