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Friday, January 8, 2016

Peer-Review Fraud — Hacking the Scientific Publication Process

Charlotte J. Haug
N Engl J Med 373;25 nejm.org december 17, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

How is it possible to fake peer review? Moon, who studies medicinal plants, had set up a simple
procedure. He gave journals recommendations for peer reviewers for his manuscripts, providing
them with names and email addresses.  But these addresses were ones he created, so the requests
to review went directly to him or his colleagues. Not surprisingly, the editor would be sent favorable
reviews — sometimes within hours after the reviewing requests had been sent out. The fallout from Moon’s confession: 28 articles in various journals published by Informa were retracted, and one editor resigned.

Peter Chen, who was an engineer at Taiwan’s National Pingtung University of Education at the time, developed a more sophisticated scheme: he constructed a “peer review and citation ring” in which he used 130 bogus e-mail addresses and fabricated identities to generate fake reviews. An editor at one of the journals published by Sage Publications became suspicious, sparking a lengthy and comprehensive investigation, which resulted in the retraction of 60 articles in July 2014.

The article is here.