The email arrived on a Saturday morning in July last year.
The recipient was a person known only as “Artemisia Stricta”, a moniker they adopted when they started their secret career as an online sleuth exposing academic fraud.
The mass media is noticing the proliferation of crazy ideas, conspiracy theories and junk science in the academic literature, as well as the behaviour of trolls and their criminal accomplices. The damage being done to the reputation of science is real and serious. Research institutions need to step up to take action against any perpetrators on their staff. We have included links to five related items.
The threats against Artemisia Stricta and their family had been sent to the wrong person.
While these threats were misdirected, the whistleblower, whose alias is the scientific name of a plant endemic to Central Asia, knows their work has made them some fierce enemies.
“I am concerned for my safety. My family has begged me to stop doing this work,” Artemisia Stricta told the ABC via encrypted email.
That work has included spending hundreds of hours reviewing scientific papers in the field of construction engineering, an academic discipline not typically known for drama or intrigue.