Made-up identities assigned to fake e-mail addresses. Real identities stolen for fraudulent reviews. Study authors who write glowing reviews of their own research, then pass them off as an independent report.
These are the tactics of peer review manipulators, an apparently growing problem in the world of academic publishing.
Peer review is supposed to be the pride of the rigorous academic publishing process. Journals get every paper reviewed and approved by experts in the field, ensuring that problematic research doesn’t make it to print.
But increasingly journals are finding out that those supposedly authoritative checks are being rigged.
In the latest episode of the fake peer review phenomenon, one of the world’s largest academic publishers, Springer, has retracted 64 articles from 10 of its journals after discovering that their reviews were linked to fake e-mail addresses. The announcement comes nine months after 43 studies were retracted by BioMed Central (one of Springer’s imprints) for the same reason.