What is the common denominator between Latin dance and changes in the atmosphere in coastal areas? Nothing of course. but figured There was a scientific article last August titled Research on coastal atmospheric change and latin dance performance based on a target detection network in a Arab Journal of Earth Sciences. A serious scientific journal, part of the main publisher Springer Nature. More than a month after publication, the magazine put together a file express concern with the article. In it, the publisher announced an investigation into errors in the publishing process. On November 15, the article became official withdrawn Because “article content is nonsense” and “the peer review process was not done in accordance with the publisher’s guidelines.”
This article is not unique: there are 71 articles linking physical exercise and geophysics. Developed the magazine express concern In 436 articles with similar nonsense content for further investigation. The magazine has now pulled over two hundred of those, but there’s a good chance there will be more. The scandal is not isolated, puts Elsevier – another prominent publisher – a Warning In more than four hundred nonsense papers with similar problems.
Chris Graf, director of research integrity at publisher Springer Nature, commented, “We are deeply disappointed and disappointed that such a concerted effort has been made to abuse the relationship of trust between the publisher, the journal editors, and the research community. It damages the reputation of science as a whole.” How could this go wrong?
Fake email addresses
Almost all of these nonsensical studies have been published in the so-called special issues of magazines. Special issues focus on a specific research topic that is appropriate for the journal. Publications are often based on a conference, or a poem by an important scientist in the field. A guest editor, often a prominent scholar in the field, pitches the idea to the magazine. If accepted, this guest editor is also responsible for content, peer review, and evaluation of research by other scholars.
The amount of special editions varies greatly for each magazine. However, the amount of special editions is increasing strongly. A search in Scopus – Elsevier’s publisher database – shows that in 2020 3,398 searches appeared with ‘special numberIn the title, in 2010 there were only 1,732.
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Scammers impersonate Visiting Editors by creating a fake email address, by search From Springer Nature. The adjustment is often so subtle, that it goes unnoticed. Think of a [email protected] instead of a [email protected] Then the fake guest editor approves all nonsensical papers for publication, without any peer review. By the way, this kind of fraud is not new, since 2019, Springer Nature has reported this to editors and authors.
The silly studies were partly computer generated, Graf says. It is remarkable that in the abstracts of articles there is often a sudden transition from geology to sports. As if two separate parts were glued together, without any bridge. “It’s like putting oil and vinegar together. It doesn’t mix,” says Guillaume Cabanac, a computer scientist at the University of Toulouse. He was investigating after other scientists on August 23 express their concerns Via PubPeer, a website where scientists discuss research after it’s been published.
Find more suspicious patterns in Arab Journal of Earth Sciences. For example, the number of published articles has increased in recent years A significant increase. Moreover down period Between the first receipt of the article and its publication being staggering, from 282 days in the second half of 2019 to just 47 days in the second half of 2021. This indicates neglect. So he criticizes Springer Nature’s actions. “Journal editors must also see the period from receipt to publication, and see that it decreases to almost nothing. This means that there is no editorial review and no peer review.” Graf answers that the above trends could indeed be a sign of “unethical behavior in the magazine,” but stresses that they are not evidence in and of themselves. According to him, Springer Nature initially discovered the problem through its “research and analysis”. To avoid an arms race between scammers and publishers, he doesn’t want to give too many details.
On September 17 — weeks after first expressing concerns on PubPeer — Springer sent a file the news Contains an overview of the titles of publications in the journal. Multiple nonsense papers have been promoted here as if they were good science. “Even if you just scan it, you can already see that there is a big problem. Can you believe these papers have been published for so long unnoticed?”
The amount of studies from China that Arab Journal of Earth Sciences Publication has increased significantly since 2017. In 2021, in the period up to the end of August, about half of the publications in the magazine were from China. Great for a magazine specializing in Arab earth sciences. Almost all recalled items are also from China. It’s important not to draw any hard conclusions from this, says Cabanac. “We don’t even know if they are real authors.” So scammers can also pretend to be Chinese authors.
There was a lot of focus on goodwill
Chris Graf Springer Nature
Why do people do this? The motivations for wanting to publish these types of fake studies are unclear. The culprit has not yet been found. Fraudulent studies are often published, for example by scientists who want to improve their CV or want additional citations from previous research. That’s probably not the problem here, says Cabanak, because the studies are so fake. “Even a 10-year-old can see that when he reads the headlines. I can’t imagine a scammer even thinking that a single study would survive the review process.”
Lex Bouter, Professor of Methodology and Integrity at VU, does not want to rule out this scenario. He says hijacking the special versions could be an outlet for paper millsCompanies that produce fake papers on a large scale and in exchange for payments from fraudulent scholars, often by stealing existing studies. “In this case, the water runs along the path of least resistance. When you have such an easy way to spread out, you don’t have to go to great lengths to make it look like real newspaper.” According to Potter, researchers can sometimes get away with it, and advance their careers with nonsensical publications. In many countries, the number of publications a scientist has in his name is the most important indicator of promotion. „It is not always the case that those who judge scholars have titles Abstracts to look into. Then they just count the publication numbers.” It confirms the fact that the vast majority of science is done with integrity, and that these are abuses.
Kabanak suspects other motives: “Maybe what people want from the Saudi Society for Geosciences [de organisatie achter de Arabian Journal of Geosciences], or give the Springer editorial board a bad name.” Chris Graf doesn’t want to speculate much, but he also suspects that the organization is responsible, not individual authors. The publisher has approached all authors – or people pretending to be the authors of questionable papers, but rarely gets a response. In most cases, the emails never arrived.” “This is strange, because researchers are usually very proud of their research.” The “Researchers” were selected Norwegian Refugee Council By email to respond, none of them responded.
As a scholar, you should be able to trust that a paper in a reputable journal can be trusted. “In this case, we see that prominent publishers have incorrect or fraudulent catalog papers in their catalog,” Cabanac said. “As a newcomer to the field, it can sometimes be very difficult to evaluate a paper for accuracy. So we have to teach students to recognize errors and see if there are criticisms of the research paper on PubPeer. You will waste months of time if you base your research on unauthorized research. true by others.” Lex Potter agrees: “Good literature is the heart of the system.”
Good literature is the heart of the system
Lex Potter professor
To prevent this, magazines should be less naive about private issues, Graf says. “There has been a lot of focus on goodwill. We will take steps to verify the identity of visiting editors. We will also inform journal editors of the risks.” To avoid further problems, Springer Nature is delaying the publication of all guest editor-led editions until the identity of the guest editors has been confirmed, and all content has been checked for correctness either software or manually.
Bouter also mentions more radical options, for example by removing the authority of guest editors as much as possible and placing them under guardianship. Also, Special Editions may be presented as separate sections, in a different font and not under the editor’s responsibility. But then these publications lose their status as well, “so it’s just print material.”
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