Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Publishers are not immune to fake paper problems (Unfortunately)

Sting operations on scholarly publishers are not new. Many such sting operations and publication of fake papers were reported in last four decades. In 1996, mathematician Alan Sokal riled postmodernists by publishing a nonsense paper in the leading US journal, Social Text. It was laden with meaningless phrases but, as Sokal said, it sounded good to them. Other fields have not been immune. In 1964, critics of modern art were wowed by the work of Pierre Brassau, who turned out to be a four-year-old chimpanzee (Reference: http://bit.ly/guardian-fake-paper).  An exhaustive list of scholarly publishing stings is published elsewhere. There are good numbers of examples of fake papers published in reputed journals/conferences in the fields of Mathematics, Computer science, Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Psychology, Sociology, Theology, etc (Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_scholarly_publishing_stings).

Sometimes fake papers are generated by a computer program like SciGen, Mathgen, Physgen, etc. SciGen is a prank computer program that generates random computer science papers. Those fake papers look astonishingly real with interesting headings, graphs and citations. The program was developed by graduate students at MIT with the goal to bring attention to the problem of bogus conferences with low submission standards. In 2014, Springer and IEEE, two of the biggest academic publishers, had to retract more than 120 papers because they were generated by SciGen (Reference: http://bit.ly/fake-paper-springer-ieee and https://go.nature.com/2LE9f9H).

The scholarly community may recall that it was Applied Mathematics Letters – a non-open-access journal published by Elsevier — that published a string of bizarre papers, including one that was retracted because it made “no sense mathematically” and another whose corresponding author’s e-mail address was ohm@budweiser.com. (Reference: http://bit.ly/Appl-math-elsevier-fake-paper and http://bit.ly/Elsevier-Appl-math-retraction-2). Students at Iran’s Sharif University of Technology published a SciGen generated paper in Elsevier’s Journal of Applied Mathematics and Computation. The paper was subsequently removed when the publishers were informed that it was a joke paper (Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SCIgen). Mikhail Gelfand published a translation of the Scigen-generated “Rooter” article in the Russian-language Journal of Scientific Publications of Aspirants and Doctorants in August 2008. Gelfand was protesting against the journal’s mode of operation (Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SCIgen).

More Related:- White paper regarding fight against Predatory Publication practices: published by Sciencedomain International

Then widely circulated Science Sting operation (2003) appeared in media. “Who’s Afraid of Peer Review?” is an article written by Science Journal correspondent John Bohannon that describes his investigation of peer review among fee-charging open-access journals. Between January and August 2013, Bohannon submitted fake scientific papers to 304 journals owned by as many fee-charging open access publishers. The papers, writes Bohannon, “were designed with such grave and obvious scientific flaws that they should have been rejected immediately by editors and peer reviewers,” but 60% of the journals accepted them. The article and associated data were published in the 4 October 2013 issue of Science as open access (http://bit.ly/science-sting). Bohannon reported that Journals published by Elsevier, Wolters Kluwer, and Sage all accepted his bogus paper (Reference: http://bit.ly/science-sting-RW). Sciencedomain International is pleased that our claim of the high standard of peer review is authenticated by the world-famous Science Journal article.  Please see the investigative report here (http://bit.ly/science-report-111). It reported that out of a total 304 journals, only 20 journals rejected the fake article after substantial peer review. We are happy that our journal was among these few successful journals along with industry leaders like PLoS One, Springer, BMC, MDPI, Hindawi, etc.

How to fight against fake papers?

SciDetect: Use of SciDetect can be included as part of the arsenal to fight against computer-generated fake papers. Springer announced in 2015 the release of SciDetect, a new software program that automatically checks for fake scientific papers (Reference: http://bit.ly/springer-scidetect).

OPEN Peer review and Post-publication peer-review: Adoption of OPEN peer review and post-publication peer review can be useful in fighting against sting operations.

OPEN PEER REVIEW: In the Open Peer Review process, names of the editors and reviewers, all peer review reports, comments from editors and different versions of the manuscripts are also made publicly posted along with the published paper. It has also been argued that open review leads to more honest reviewing and prevents reviewers from following their individual agendas, as well as leading to the detection of reviewers’ conflicts of interests. This process eradicates any possibility of malicious interference by the publisher to publish papers only for money, by compromising academic quality. Some quality scholarly publishers have started to adopt Open Peer Review. For example, Sciencedomain International journals follow a transparent and robust OPEN peer review model (Some examples: http://bit.ly/open-review-2http://bit.ly/open-review-3http://bit.ly/open-review-4). Some of the BioMed Central (a part of Springer-Nature) journals also follow Open Peer Review system (http://bit.ly/BMC-journals). Recently, DeGruyter (Germany), also implemented the Open Peer Review process for its some journals (http://bit.ly/opr-degruyter). Another example is Royal Society Open Science journal, which adopted a partial Open Peer Review system (http://bit.ly/royal-society-opr). The main complaint against predatory publishers is that anybody can publish anything by paying hefty money. Predatory publishers compromise the peer review process or don’t do peer review to publish any paper. Adoption of transparent Open Peer review system helps a publisher to fight against fake papers. It must be noted that even an honest peer review system itself is not perfect. But an honest publisher must take all possible steps to make its peer review system robust and as transparent as possible. Adoption of Open Peer Review system can be a remarkable milestone for a publisher to fight against fake papers, predatory practices.


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