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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Don’t let researchers recommend who reviews their work – Nature Index (Dalmeet Singh Chawla | November 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on January 3, 2020

Some funders and publishers call it unethical, for others, it’s par for the course.

Why do some other funders and scholarly publishers still allow researchers to suggest reviewers to evaluate their work?

The US National Science Foundation and the UK Research and Innovation — Britain’s central research funder — are among those who still consider recommended reviewers, even though the evidence is clear that using these referees leaves the process open to bias and misconduct.

Between 2012 and 2016, more than 500 papers were retracted for compromised, rigged, or faked peer review. This was largely due to authors giving fake email addresses for real experts or fabricating experts entirely when suggesting who would be fit to evaluate their work.

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A reviewer stole a manuscript and published it himself. But you wouldn’t know it from this retraction notice – Retraction Watch (Adam Marcus | February 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on December 30, 2019

Fish off someone else’s peer review!

So writes (in somewhat different words) Mina Mehregan, a mechanical engineer at Ferdowsi University of Mashhad in Iran. Mehregan and a colleague recently discovered that they’d been victimized by a group of unscrupulous reviewers who used the pretext of a long turnaround time to publish a hijacked version of their manuscript in another journal.

In a guest editorial for the Journal of Korean Medical Science — which wasn’t involved in the heist — Mehregan began by noting the toll that protracted peer review can take on authors:

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Rude paper reviews are pervasive and sometimes harmful, study find – Science (Christie Wilcox | December 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on December 26, 2019

There’s a running joke in academia about Reviewer 2. That’s the reviewer that doesn’t bother to read the manuscript a journal has sent out for evaluation for possible publication, offers condescending or outright offensive comments, and—of course—urges the irrelevant citation of their own work. Such unprofessional conduct is so pervasive there’s even a whole Facebook group, more than 25,000 members strong, named “Reviewer 2 Must Be Stopped!” But it is no laughing matter, concludes a new study that finds boorish reviewer comments can have serious negative impacts, especially on authors belonging to marginalized groups.

Peer reviewers are supposed to ensure that journals publish high-quality science by evaluating manuscripts and offering suggestions for improvement. But often, referee comments stray far from that mission, found the new PeerJ study, which surveyed 1106 scientists from 46 countries and 14 disciplines. More than half of the respondents—who were promised anonymity—reported receiving at least one “unprofessional” review, and a majority of those said they had received multiple problematic comments.

Those comments tended to personally target a scientist, lack constructive criticism, or were just unnecessarily harsh or cruel, the authors report. For example, one author received a review that stated: “The phrases I have so far avoided using in this review are ‘lipstick on a pig’ and ‘bullshit baffles brains.’” Another reported receiving this missive: “The author’s last name sounds Spanish. I didn’t read the manuscript because I’m sure it’s full of bad English.”

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(China) Five ways China must cultivate research integrity – Nature (Li Tang | November 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on December 14, 2019

A swift increase in scientific productivity has outstripped the country’s ability to promote rigour and curb academic misconduct; it is time to seize solutions.

How researchers in China behave has an impact on the global scientific community. With more than four million researchers, China has more science and technology personnel than any other nation. In 2008, it overtook the United Kingdom in the number of articles indexed in the Web of Science, and now ranks second in the world. In 2018, China published 412,000 papers.

But China also produces a disproportionate number of faked peer reviews and plagiarized or fraudulent publications. Its share of retracted papers is around three times that expected from its scientific output (see ‘Outsized retractions’).

The past few years have witnessed high-profile cases of faked peer reviews, image manipulations and authorships for sale, some involving prominent Chinese scientists. In May last year, China asked two groups to foster research integrity and manage misconduct cases: its Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) . In November 2018, 41 national government agencies endorsed a set of 43 penalties for major academic misconduct. These range from terminating grants to restricting academic promotion and revoking business licences. This year, the government issued a foundational document to promote the scientific enterprise and foster a culture of academic integrity1.

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