Preventing peer review fraud

Jac KeronEditorial office

At Prepress Projects, the editorial office team manage the peer-review process of a number of academic journals. We play a significant role in helping our journal editors find reviewers to evaluate submitted manuscripts. We abide by journal ethical guidelines to ensure we find qualified reviewers who will evaluate manuscripts fairly and honestly and without any conflict. We take great care in finding suitable reviewers.

It therefore concerns us to hear about the seemingly ever-growing problem of faked peer review. Over the last year we have been seeing more and more published articles being retracted by publishers, where the authors have been found to have manipulated the peer-review process: the authors have fraudulently written reviews of their own work pretending to be someone else.

Springer and BioMed Central have recently retracted 64 and 43 articles respectively for this reason.

This problem has occurred when authors have had the opportunity to provide editors with recommended reviewers for their manuscript. The names of known researchers, well-suited to review, are given but are accompanied by fake email addresses which the authors have created and have access to. If one of the recommended reviewers is selected to review, the fake email address can be unwittingly used to send the invitation. The author therefore receives the invitation and is able to write a review of their own work under a false identity.

Our editorial office team are well aware of this issue and we have updated our work practices accordingly. We have ensured that all of our journal editors are aware of this problem and have discussed with them what preventative measures their journals can take. For example, we are running more checks to ensure the details of recommended reviewers are legitimate and, for one journal, the option for authors to recommend reviewers has been completely removed.

The team is committed to providing excellent editorial office management for all of our journals and safeguarding the integrity of their peer review. We will continue to find ways that we can improve our work practices and update them accordingly when faced with problems such as this to ensure we always provide the best service possible.

If you would like to talk to us about how we can help your journal, please get in touch!