Characteristics of retractions related to faked peer reviews: an overview

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Abstract

A faked peer review is a novel cause for retraction. We reviewed the characteristics of papers retracted due to a faked peer review. All papers retracted due to faked peer reviews were identified by searching the Retraction Watch website and by conducting a manual search. All identified papers were confirmed in published journals. The information of retracted papers was collected, which primarily included publisher, journal, journal impact factor, country, as well as publication and retraction year. Overall, 250 retracted papers were identified. They were published in 48 journals by six publishers. The top 5 journals included the Journal of Vibration and Control (24.8%), Molecular Biology Reports (11.6%), Immunopharmacology and Immunotoxicology (8.0%), Tumour Biology (6.8%) and European Journal of Medical Research (6.4%). The publishers included SAGE (31%), Springer (26%), BioMed Central (18%), Elsevier (13%), Informa (11%) and LWW (1%). A minority (4%) of retracted papers were published in Science Citation Index (SCI) journals with an impact factor of >5. A majority (74.8%) of retracted papers were written by Chinese researchers. In terms of the publication year, the retracted papers were published since 2010, and the number of retracted papers peaked in 2014 (40.8%). In terms of the retraction year, the retractions started in 2012, and the number of retractions peaked in 2015 (59.6%). The number of papers retracted due to faked peer reviews differs largely among journals and countries. With the improvement of the peer review mechanism and increased education about publishing ethics, such academic misconduct may gradually disappear in future.

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