In January this year we posted a first report about our work investigating papers alleged to have been created by papermills, and the retractions resulting from it. Of all the complex research integrity and ethics issues we tackle, papermills pose a particular challenge for publishers, as well as being an affront to honest researchers and institutions alike. But to get a little perspective: only four in 10,000 research papers are retracted. Even if this is the tip of an iceberg it is still a small iceberg. The research enterprise itself is intact and – if our response to COVID-19 is anything to go by – vigorous and healthy. Still, those icebergs have an outsized impact. They are notoriously hard to address after publication and the harm caused by the companies and people who operate and use papermills is real and significant.
The scourge of papers remains largely unknown to the general public, the media and politics, but it is a growing malignant tumour in the heart of academic publishing. Coupled with questionable publishing its impact could have dire consequences. We have included links to seven related items.
In the meantime, Wiley teams completed more investigations into papers identified by readers as possibly coming from papermills. We have now concluded 228 investigations, corrected eight papers, and we have retracted, or we will soon retract, 209 papers. We found no reason to correct or retract in 11 papers. Authors continue to come forward to request retractions, which we are happy to encourage. This is more good progress, and we continue to anticipate more corrections and retractions.