The fight against sham science and paper factories

Holly Else and Richard Noorden write for Nature:

At some journals that have had a spate of apparent paper-mill submissions, editors have now revamped their review processes, aiming not to be fooled again. Combating industrialized cheating requires stricter review: telling editors to ask for raw data, for instance, and hiring people specifically to check images. Science publishing needs a “concerted, coordinated effort to stamp out falsified research”, the RSC said.

Taken from the linked write up- to display the scope of the problem

China has been named and shamed on many forums (including the Iranian and Russian scientists). Much has to do with the existential geopolitics and I am not qualified to highlight those aspects on this blog. However, it is apparent that sham science has become a major problem (and so have the retractions). This epidemic will continue unabated, and one way to quell this is to actually question the problem that perpetuates it.

It will lead to obvious damage to the scientific progress itself.

Here’s more:

China has long been known to have a problem with firms selling papers to researchers, says Xiaotian Chen, a librarian at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. As far back as 2010, a team led by Shen Yang, a management-studies researcher then at Wuhan University in China, warned of websites offering to ghostwrite papers on fictional research, or to bypass peer-review systems for payment.In 2017, China’s Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) said it would crack down on misconduct after a scandal in which 107 papers were retracted at the journal Tumor Biology; their peer reviews had been fabricated and a MOST investigation concluded that some had been produced by third-party companies.
The prevalence of problem papers is leading some journal editors to doubt the submissions they get from Chinese hospital researchers. “The increasing volume of this ‘junk science’ is wreaking havoc on the credibility of the research emanating out of China and increasingly casting doubt upon legitimate science from the region,” said a February 2021 editorial2 in the journal Molecular Therapy.

The problem won’t go away unless there is a concerted attempt to stem the rot and restore the scientific legitimacy. Please read the linked article in its entirety on their website. It is critical that we realize the problem with the sham science. I am worried that algorithmic modelling of data (and subsequently AI based rewriters) will become rampant soon.

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