The Peer Review Scam: How authors are reviewing their own papers

09/24/2015 10:10

by Retraction Watch


Yesterday, we reported on the discovery by BioMed Central that there were about 50 papers in their editorial system whose authors had recommended fake peer reviewers. Those 'reviewers' had submitted reviews of a number of manuscripts, and five of the papers had been published. (BMC posted a blog examining the case in 2014.)

For some Retraction Watch readers, the elements of the story may have seemed familiar. Fake reviews often involving self-peer review have been the basis for a growing number of retractions. As it happens, we've been working for a few months on a feature for the news section of Nature on the larger phenomenon. In the piece, out today and titled The Peer Review Scamwe write: Read the rest of this entry


Publisher discovers 50 manuscripts involving fake peer reviewers

BioMed Central has uncovered about fifty manuscripts in their editorial system that involved fake peer reviewers, Retraction Watch has learned.

Most of the cases were not published because they were discovered by a manuscript editor on a final pre-publication check. The five or so that have been published will go through some sort of re-review, which may result in expressions of concern or retraction.

The narrative seems similar to that in the growing number of cases of peer review manipulation we've seen recently. What tipped off the editor was minor spelling mistakes in the reviewers' names, and odd non-institutional email addresses that were often changed once reviews had been submitted, in an apparent attempt to cover the fakers' tracks. Those 'reviewers' had turned in reports across several journals, spanning several subjects. It would seem that a third party, perhaps marketing services helping authors have papers accepted, was involved.

The publisher has let all of its external editors in chief know about the situation. To prevent it from happening again, authors will not be able to recommend reviewers for their papers. Here's a message from BioMed Central senior managing editor Diana Marshall that went out to a number of journal editors earlier today: Read the rest of this entry.


Controversial editor and patient safety expert had undisclosed COIs in 9 of 10 papers.  A new editorial in the Journal of Patient Safety accuses former editor and patient safety expert Charles Denham of having undeclared conflicts of interest in nine out of ten articles he published in the journal.

Charles Denham

Denham was at the center of massive controversy earlier this year, when the government accused him of taking more than $11 million in kickbacks from medical supply company CareFusion. Supposedly, he took the money to influence the National Quality Forum, where Denham was a co-chair of safe practices, to endorce ChloraPrep, a CareFusion antiseptic.

Cheryl Clark, at HealthLeaders Media, was first to report on the new editorial. Here's what the editors wroteRead the rest of this entry