Menu

Peer-Review Fraud Scheme Uncovered in China

The Chinese government finds almost 500 researchers guilty of misconduct in relation to a recent spate of retractions from a cancer journal.

Jul 31, 2017
Bob Grant

© BRYAN SATALINOAfter a sweeping research misconduct investigation, China’s Ministry of Science and Technology (MST) has found nearly 500 researchers guilty of engaging in a peer-review fraud scam. Announced late last week (July 27), MST’s findings indicate that 486 scientific paper authors engaged, to some degree, in a scheme to nominate either fictitious or paid peer reviewers who would write positive reviews of their manuscripts.

“We should eradicate the problem from its roots,” He Defang, director of MST’s regulatory division in Beijing, tells Science.

MST is meting out stiff penalties to the guilty researchers. These range from suspending their research projects and canceling grants to rescinding promotions or even harsher retribution. “They will face punishment according to the Communist Party of China discipline regulations and the regulations on personnel from public institutions,” He told Chinese news outlet Xinhua.

The nature of the scam is not unprecedented, with Chinese authors being accused of similar practices in the recent past.

See “The Past and Present of Reseach Integrity in China

The investigation was sparked by the retraction of 107 papers—many of which were authored by Chinese scientists and were published between 2012 and 2016—from Tumor Biology in April. The MST found that of the 521 authors it investigated, 11 were innocent, and 24 are still under investigation. The agency also determined that nine of those papers contained completely faked data and that 95 of the papers involved third parties providing phony reviews.

Of the 486 researchers found guilty of misconduct, 314 were characterized as “neglecting the management of academic achievements and paper publications,” according to Xinhua.

Many in the scientific community within China are praising the government’s efforts to root out fraudsters, including its stated zero-tolerance stance on research misconduct. MST’s recent disciplinary action “reminds us that 'zero tolerance' toward academic dishonesty needs further strengthening, and the actions by the Chinese government are very timely,” Yong-Guan, a biogeochemist at the Institute of Urban Environment in Xiamen, China, tells Science.

(Hat tip to Retraction Watch)

July 2019

On Target

Researchers strive to make individualized medicine a reality

Marketplace

Sponsored Product Updates

DeNovoMAX - NRGene's new genomics tool to meet a major agbio need:
DeNovoMAX - NRGene's new genomics tool to meet a major agbio need:
NRGene has launched a new product that aims to empower breeding and maximize agricultural yield as part of the Denovo assembly product suite offered by the company.
Overcoming the Efficiency Challenge in Clinical NGS
Overcoming the Efficiency Challenge in Clinical NGS
Download this white paper to see how an ECS lab serving a network of more than 10,000 healthcare providers integrated QIAGEN Clinical Insight (QCI) Interpret to significantly reduce manual variant curation efforts and increase workflow efficiency by 80%!
Veravas Launches Product Portfolio to Mitigate Biotin Interference and Improve Diagnostic Assay Accuracy
Veravas Launches Product Portfolio to Mitigate Biotin Interference and Improve Diagnostic Assay Accuracy
Veravas, Inc., an emerging diagnostic company, launched a portfolio of products that can improve the accuracy of current diagnostic test results by helping laboratory professionals detect and manage biotin interference in patient samples with VeraTest Biotin and VeraPrep Biotin.
New Data on Circulating Tumor DNA as a Biomarker for Detecting Cancer Progression Presented at 2019 ASCO Annual Meeting
New Data on Circulating Tumor DNA as a Biomarker for Detecting Cancer Progression Presented at 2019 ASCO Annual Meeting
Scientists presented more than 30 abstracts featuring Bio-Rad’s Droplet Digital PCR (ddPCR) technology at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago, May 31–June 4.