Agencies help researchers defraud journal peer-review process

January 14, 2015

Some unscrupulous scholars have found a new way to make sure their work makes it to publication: they act as their own peer reviewers. These researchers create false identities and email addresses that are slight modifications of renowned experts in their field, and then recommend the fictitious person as the most qualified reviewer rather than risk sending the work to the real scholar. Because peer review is anonymous, the real person is unlikely to be aware that their reputation has been abused in this way. Such scams remain uncommon, but are prevalent enough that the Committee on Publication Ethics has issued a warning that it “has become aware of systematic, inappropriate attempts to manipulate the peer review processes of several journals across different publishers. These manipulations appear to have been orchestrated by a number of third-party agencies offering services to authors.” The blog Retraction Watchsays that it has found more than 100 papers that have been withdrawn due to this kind of fraudulent peer review. Ottawa Citizen