In the Fall of 2021, in the depths of the covid pandemic, I found a long series of fake papers in the Springer Nature Arabian Journal of Geosciences. These were blatant frauds, with nonsense titles, nonsense references, and nonsense text in between. I reported these papers to the editors and then posted a description on the anonymous publishing watchdog site PubPeer. Internet sleuths then found many more fake papers in this journal. The story made it to the front page of The Chronicle of Higher Education, and eventually to the journal Nature. This history is detailed in a previous post.
Now, after hundreds of paper retractions by Springer Nature, the Arabian Journal of Geosciences has been placed in a kind of probation (see above screenshot). Clarivate Analytics has removed the journal’s listing from Web of Science for at least 2 years. The indexing service Scopus has at least temporarily dropped the journal.
Scientific publishing is experiencing a growing flood of fake papers produced by lucrative “paper mills” that sell manuscripts to would-be authors and then take advantage of corrupt and inept editorial systems to get them published. The common practice of Article Processing Charges (APCs), by which authors pay to have their papers published, has greatly accelerated the fraud. Journal editorial boards are often more interested in receiving the fees than ensuring quality in the published papers. We need a new model for ensuring the integrity of scientific publication — a model that encourages honest peer review and editorial gatekeeping. Without a change, confusion and mistrust will tear at the fabric of scientific research and its countless contributions.
I keep track of these issues through the blogs For Better Science and Retraction Watch.
GPT is going to make your job harder: grammatical, reasonable sounding vacuous content at a prompt. We’ll need good AI to detect that bad.