University newspaper retracted dozens of articles and apologized to readers after falling victim to what it described as a “peer review ring” which appears to have involved more than 100 bogus academics .
The Journal of Vibration and Control (JVC), a leading publication in acoustics, said it was withdrawing 60 papers published in print and online over the past four years, after discovering that papers were endorsed and cited by academics with “assumed and fabricated identities.”
The newspaper’s editor, Sage, said in a statement that the ring appeared to be centered around Peter Chen, a former researcher at Pingtung National University of Education in Taiwan. Chen provided an “unsatisfactory response” when confronted and has since resigned from his post. Chen could not be reached for comment Thursday.
“We regret that individual authors have compromised the academic record by perverting the peer review process and apologize to the readers,” the publisher said in a statement. “Upon discovering peer review and citation issues, Sage immediately implemented measures to prevent a similar vulnerability of the Journal to future exploitation. ”
Ali Nayfeh, the newspaper’s editor since its inception in 1995 and professor emeritus at the Virginia Tech School of Engineering, resigned in May following the findings, the editor said. Nayfeh did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
Sage said a “complex investigation” was carried out after evidence came to light last year that the online submission system used for articles published in the journal was being manipulated.
“While investigating the JVC documents submitted and reviewed by Peter Chen, it was discovered that the author had created various aliases on Sage Track, providing different email addresses to create more than one account,” the statement said.
“Therefore, Sage took a closer look at the coauthors and reviewers selected for Peter Chen’s papers, these names appeared to be part of a peer review circle. The investigation also revealed that on at least one occasion author Peter Chen reviewed his own article under one of the aliases he created.
The 60 articles were ultimately withdrawn because “the evidence indicates that they have at least one author or that they are reviewed by at least one reviewer who has been involved” in the fraudulent network, according to the publisher.
The journal’s mass withdrawal of articles was first reported by Retraction Watch, a blog monitoring academic publications. Sage said in a statement to the blog that while there was not “a definitive number of individual scientists involved in this ring,” he had contacted 130 email accounts, “a large number of which” were considered bogus. accounts or aliases.
Sage said three additional editors and 27 associate editors, all “with expertise and prestige in the field” had been appointed to lead the peer review process of the journal following the findings of the investigation and the departure of Nayfeh.