About Us Contact Us Privacy Policy Terms of Use DMCA Opt-out of personalized ads
© Copyright 2023 Market Realist. Market Realist is a registered trademark. All Rights Reserved. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.

Scientific Research Plagued by Misinformation as Peer Review Fraud Hits Academia

85 similar peer-review reports featuring coercive citation suggest a potential new form of organized academic malpractice known as a review mill.
 Cover Image Source: Fraud | Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters | Unsplash
Cover Image Source: Fraud | Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters | Unsplash

Scams are affecting consumers, investors, and even those organizing funerals, but apparently, even academic circles are not free from fraudulent schemes. In recent times, academic malpractice involving citation manipulation has been uncovered through a volunteer-led investigation published online by Predatory Reports. The investigation implicated María de los Ángeles Oviedo García, a professor of business management and marketing at the University of Seville, Spain. In academia, the evaluation process for submissions to journals involves peer review, where reviewers rigorously assess each submission against strict criteria to determine acceptance. The investigation was sparked off by a suspicious review report published alongside an article in MDPI’s Journal of Clinical Medicine.

Pexels | Pixabay
Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Pixabay

"[I thought] 'Why is this sentence so clear to introduce these two articles in the introduction section?'" García explains. "Something rang a bell in my head and I thought, I’m going to check it and then I found more and more articles using the same sentence structure. I kept thinking about it and thought there must be something there," she added.

She reportedly discovered a set of 85 review reports across 23 MDPI journals, which were published between August 2022 and October 2023.  According to her, "It was so obvious" and "evident." "The structure was very similar and the content of the review was very similar … the further I dug, the more strange things I was finding – why did no one realize the high rate of self-citation?" she added.

 Anete Lusina | Pexels
Image Source: Photo by Anete Lusina | Pexels

"I thought, 'My goodness, this needs to be exposed – this is fraud in the review process.' It is not a proper review if you repeat the same, for every type of paper, in every type of journal, 85 times," García told Chemistry World. She proceeded to share her findings on X and exposed ten articles that appeared to have been affected by the review mill. 

Anna Pendlebury, publishing ethics specialist at the Royal Society of Chemistry, states that citation manipulation has become a huge problem. "With the presence of paper mills already affecting scholarly publishing, it seems unlikely that this review mill is the only one in existence," she believes.


"We are pleased to see that many publishers are working together, alongside associations such as Committee on Publication Ethics and [the academic publishers’ trade association] STM, to combat these significant threats to scholarly publishing," Pendlebury said.

Citation manipulation generally happens when a reviewer attempts to inflate their citation counts for personal gain or any other reason. Tens of thousands of sham research papers are becoming a reality, prompting scientists and investigators to look into it. 

These scams are compromising medical research to a significant extent, resulting in research fraud. According to Professor Dorothy Bishop of Oxford University, "The situation has become appalling." "The level of publishing of fraudulent papers is creating serious problems for science. In many fields, it is becoming difficult to build up a cumulative approach to a subject because we lack a solid foundation of trustworthy findings. And it’s getting worse and worse," she said.


According to The Guardian, this scam has its roots in China, where young doctors and scientists are seeking promotions. Organizations like, "paper mills" have begun to supply fake and fabricated work. The scam has since been witnessed in different countries like Iran, Russia, India, and, Eastern Europe.