The Journal of Vibration and Control has retracted 60 scientific articles after the discovery of a “peer-review and citation ring,” helping academics facing the existential crisis: publish or perish.
The scientific journal covers “vibration phenomena and their control” as one of the titles from SAGE Publishers. The Washington Post reported Friday that Ali H. Nayfeh, former editor-in-chief, learned of the fraud early last year, prompting a 14-month investigation by the journal. Editors say academics used false identities with corresponding email addresses to pose as peer-reviewers in SAGE’s publishing system. As many as 130 false names were used in the fraudulent review process, the Post said.
At the center of the investigation was Peter Chen, a research scientist at the National Pingtung University of Education in Taiwan, who was accused of reviewing his own paper while posing as another academic. Chen has since resigned his position at the university, SAGE said in a statement.
“We regret that individual authors have compromised the academic record by perverting the peer review process and apologise to readers,” SAGE said. “On uncovering problems with peer review and citation SAGE immediately put steps in place to avoid similar vulnerability of the Journal to exploitation in the future.”
Each of the 60 articles identified by the publisher as fraudulent included at least one author or reviewer found to be false. “While investigating the JVC papers submitted and reviewed by Peter Chen, it was discovered that the author had created various aliases on SAGE Track, providing different email addresses to set up more than one account,” SAGE said. “Consequently, SAGE scrutinised further the co-authors of and reviewers selected for Peter Chen’s papers, these names appeared to form part of a peer review ring.”
On at least one occasion, SAGE said, Chen reviewed his own paper. Aside from fraudulent peer-review, more common forms of scientific cheating include plagiarism of other authors as well as the blatant fabrication of data.