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Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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July 11, 2014

My Imaginary Friends Would Be Glad to Serve as Referees

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Posted by Derek

Here's the biggest fake-peer-review operation I've heard of yet. Retraction Watch, which does not seem to be in any danger of running out of material, reports that a researcher in Taiwan decided to not leave the review process at the Journal of Vibration and Control up to chance. He set up scores of fake identities in their online submission database, with as many as 130 fabricated e-mail addresses, and guess who got to review his manuscripts?

The journal has retracted sixty papers going back to 2010, and I'd like to know if that's the record. I haven't heard of anything better - well, worse, you know what I mean. The professor involved has been removed from his position in Taiwan, as well he might, and the editor of the journal has resigned. As well he might, too - that editor is not implicated in the publication scam, as far as I can tell, but what exactly were his editorial duties? Dozens of papers come pouring in every year from some obscure university in Taiwan, all of them with overlapping lead or co-authors, and you don't even so much as look up from your desk? Hardly a month goes by without another bulletin from the wildly productive engineers at Pingtung U, sometimes four or five of the damn things at once, and you think you're doing your job? And nobody else who reads this journal - assuming anyone ever does - wonders what's going on, either?

If the professor involved was really getting something out of this (tenure, promotion, grant money, what have you), then the people who awarded those to him were idiots, too. In fact, that's how I'd sum up the whole affair: a fool, faking papers for a bunch of incompetents, and rewarded for it by idiots. What a crew. You really cannot underestimate the low end of the scientific publishing industry, nor its customers.

Comments (14) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: The Scientific Literature


1. Anonymous on July 11, 2014 8:50 AM writes...

Journal of Vibration and Control? Sounds like something out of a 70's porno movie.

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2. Colm on July 11, 2014 8:59 AM writes...

It's time for the field to undertake a systematic appraisal of things that can vibrate, the Vibrome if you will.

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3. pgwu on July 11, 2014 9:17 AM writes...

It's what you can get away with in a particular system, in this case or some others you mentioned in your previous posts about blatant plagiarism. There is money to be made in high frequency trading in financial market here. There are rewards to have by fakery in third world academic research. Everywhere there is the good, the bad, and the ugly, like Clint's movie used to say.

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4. The Iron Chemist on July 11, 2014 9:23 AM writes...

Unfortunately, this is not the record for the number of retractions by a PI. Yoshitaka Fujii is somewhere above 172. Joachim Boldt has at least 90.

Your comment about the seedy underbelly of academic publishing is dead-on. There is an astonishing number of people trying to benefit from that particular circle of BS.

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5. JF on July 11, 2014 9:36 AM writes...

Something is definitively wrong in the scholar publication world. Five of the retracted JVC papers are co-authored by... the Ministry of Education of Taiwan.

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6. Amboceptor on July 11, 2014 10:29 AM writes...

The journal editor who resigned is currently 80 years old. Maybe the other journal he's editor-in-chief of, Nonlinear Dynamics (which has a higher impact factor), should look into shaking things up.

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7. Amboceptor on July 11, 2014 10:30 AM writes...

The journal editor who resigned is currently 80 years old. Maybe the other journal he's editor-in-chief of, Nonlinear Dynamics (which has a higher impact factor), should look into shaking things up.

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8. DB on July 11, 2014 11:14 AM writes...

"a fool, faking papers for a bunch of incompetents, and rewarded for it by idiots. What a crew."
What prose!

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9. idiotraptor on July 11, 2014 1:50 PM writes...

Perhaps JVC = Journal of Voluminous Crap? :;

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10. Special Guest Lecturer on July 13, 2014 8:41 PM writes...

I'm amazed that someone could get away with inventing this many identities - Did Prof. Chen establish fake identities in multiple countries, or were his papers always reviewed by "others" from Taiwan? Did the editor always select reviewers from Chen's suggested list, rather than choosing some independently?

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11. nerd v geek on July 14, 2014 10:02 PM writes...

To Amboceptor: if the editor of the Journal of Vibration Research is not 'shaking things up' he is clearly not doing his job.

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12. Vader on July 15, 2014 11:32 AM writes...

"Sometimes I think all my friends have been imaginary."

--Bill Watterson

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13. best Skin care Products on July 16, 2014 5:57 PM writes...

I've learn a few just right stuff here. Definitely value bookmarking for revisiting.

I wonder how so much attempt you put to create one of these fantastic informative website.

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14. WB on July 22, 2014 1:00 AM writes...

"a fool, faking papers for a bunch of incompetents, and rewarded for it by idiots. What a crew."

You've just described how most of the research is done in Asia.

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