A publisher just retracted ten papers whose peer review was “engineered” — despite knowing about the problem of fake reviews for years

Many publishers have been duped by fake peer reviews, which have brought down more than 600 papers to date. But some continue to get fooled.

Recently, SAGE retracted 10 papers published as part of two special collections in Advances in Mechanical Engineering after discovering the peer review process that had been managed by the guest editors “did not meet the journal’s usual rigorous standards.” After a new set of reviewers looked over the collections, they determined 10 papers included “technical errors,” and the content “did not meet the journal’s required standard of scientific validity.”

Yeah, we’re not exactly sure what happened here, either. SAGE gave us a little extra clarity — but not much.

Continue reading A publisher just retracted ten papers whose peer review was “engineered” — despite knowing about the problem of fake reviews for years

Sturgeon researcher nets 13 retractions for fake peer review

A fish scientist in Iran has now lost 13 papers about the properties of Sturgeon sperm — try saying that five times fast — and other ichthyological topics over concerns about faked peer review.

The three most recent retractions come from the Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition. According to the notice:

Continue reading Sturgeon researcher nets 13 retractions for fake peer review

“Devastated” researchers worry co-author’s use of fake reviews could hurt their careers

In late December, Ana Khajehnezhad learned what no scientist wants to hear: One of her papers had been retracted. The reason: Her co-author had faked the reviews.

Khajehnezhad, who works at the Plasma Physics Research Center at Islamic Azad University in Tehran, Iran, told Retraction Watch she was “devastated” to hear the news:

I was so shocked. … I had absolutely no knowledge whatsoever on the actions taken by the corresponding author.

As we reported last month, Elsevier is retracting 26 papers affected by fake reviews; Ahmad Salar Elahi is corresponding author on 24 of them, including Khajehnezhad’s now-retracted paper published in International Journal of Hydrogen Energy. Many of Ehali’s co-authors are now facing the consequences of these retractions. Three of them shared their story. Continue reading “Devastated” researchers worry co-author’s use of fake reviews could hurt their careers

After Elsevier knew an author faked reviews, it kept accepting his papers for more than a year

In March 2017, Christopher Blanford received an email from an editor at the Journal of Crystal Growth. Blanford had been named as a suggested reviewer for a manuscript, and the editor, Arnab Bhattacharya, wanted to verify that the Gmail account the authors provided was legitimate.

It was not.

Blanford—a senior lecturer in biomaterials at the University of Manchester, UK—thought it was an “amusing coincidence” that he was chosen as a fake reviewer, given that he has written about malpractice in academic publishing. He confirmed the Gmail account was not his, and the other two suggested reviewers told Bhattacharya, a professor at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai, India, the same thing.

Continue reading After Elsevier knew an author faked reviews, it kept accepting his papers for more than a year

Elsevier retracting 26 papers accepted because of fake reviews

Elsevier has retracted 13 papersand says it will retract 13 moreafter discovering they were accepted because of fake reviews.

A spokesperson for Elsevier told us that the journals are in the process of retracting all 26 papers affected by the “peer-review manipulation” and “unexplained authorship irregularities.” Most share one corresponding author, a physical science researcher based in Iran. Continue reading Elsevier retracting 26 papers accepted because of fake reviews

Publisher issues first retractions for fake peer review, starts new checking policy

The publisher Frontiers has retracted four papers in three of its journals after discovering they had been accepted with fake peer reviews.

The problem of fake reviews has been on the research community’s radar since at least 2014, and several major publishers—including Springer, SAGE and BioMed Central—have retracted hundreds of papers accepted via fake peer reviews. But Gearóid Ó Faoleán, the ethics and integrity manager at Frontiers, told us this is the first time Frontiers had had to issue retractions for this reason.

The papers, published between 2015 and 2017, are from researchers based at the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR)–National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (NIIST) in Thiruvananthapuram, India. S. Nishanth Kumar is the only author in common to all four paper and a corresponding on two of them; Dileep Kumar, a scientist at CSIR, is a corresponding author on three of the papers.

Ó Faoleán told us: Continue reading Publisher issues first retractions for fake peer review, starts new checking policy

Can you spot a fake? New tool aims to help journals identify fake reviews

Chris Heid

Fake peer reviews are a problem in academic publishing. A big problem. Many publishers are taking proactive steps to limit the effects, but massive purges of papers tainted by problematic reviews continue to occur; to date, more than 500 papers have been retracted for this reason. In an effort to help, Clarivate Analytics is unveiling a new tool as part of the release of ScholarOne Manuscripts, its peer review and submission software in December, 2017. We spoke to Chris Heid, Head of Product for ScholarOne, about the new pilot program to detect unusual submission and peer review activity that may warrant further investigation by the journal.

Retraction Watch: Fake peer reviews are a major problem in publishing, but many publishers are hyper-aware of it and even making changes to their processes, such as not allowing authors to recommend reviewers. Why do you think the industry needs a tool to help detect fake reviews?

Continue reading Can you spot a fake? New tool aims to help journals identify fake reviews

SAGE journal retracts three more papers after discovering faked reviews

SAGE recently retracted three 2015 papers from one of its journals after the publisher found the articles were accepted with faked peer reviews. The retraction notices call out the authors responsible for submitting the reviews.

This trio of retractions is the second batch of papers withdrawn by Technology in Cancer Research & Treatment over faked reviews in the past eight months. In 2016, the journal began investigating concerns from an anonymous tipster about faked reviewer reports and subsequently retracted three papers in December over “manipulation of the peer-review process” (1, 2, 3).

Jennifer Lovick, the journal’s executive editor, told us the recent issues have prompted the journal to take steps to strengthen the peer review process: Continue reading SAGE journal retracts three more papers after discovering faked reviews

When a journal retracts 107 papers for fake reviews, it pays a price

A company that indexes journals — thereby assigning them impact factors — has chosen to delist a cancer journal after it retracted 107 papers earlier this year for faked peer reviews.

Starting July 19, anything published by Tumor Biology will not be indexed in Web of Science, part of Clarivate Analytics (formerly part of Thomson Reuters). Clarivate told us the decision was based on the fake reviews that took down more than 100 papers earlier this year. The problematic papers were released while the journal was published by Springer, not its current publisher, SAGE.

Without being indexed by Web of Science, Tumor Biology will lack an impact factor — which can be the kiss of death for many journals, since researchers (and institutions) often count on such metrics when applying for grants and promotions, so many will not submit work to a journal without one.

Here’s the statement from a Clarivate spokesperson [their emphasis]:

Continue reading When a journal retracts 107 papers for fake reviews, it pays a price

Nearly 500 researchers guilty of misconduct, says Chinese gov’t investigation

Four hundred eighty-six authors have been found guilty of misconduct by the Chinese government, the fall-out from a sweep of retractions by one journal earlier this year.

In April, Tumor Biology retracted 107 papers that had been accepted based on faked reviews. Since many of the authors were based in China, the country’s Ministry of Science and Technology (MST) launched an investigation. On Friday, the news outlet Xinhua reported the results of the government’s investigation:

Continue reading Nearly 500 researchers guilty of misconduct, says Chinese gov’t investigation