Springer has retracted 64 papers (a list according to Retraction Watch) due to the practice of faking your own peer reviews. Certain journals allow you to request which reviewers you’d like for your paper, and to provide their contact information. Some investigators have been taking advantage of this by providing an incorrect email address, which would lead back to the investigator (where I’m sure the resulting review was glowing).
Thoughts that went through my head:
1) Wow, that’s ballsy.
2) Ugh, I hate when people ask me to write my own letter of rec. I can’t imagine having to review my own paper. In fact, half the time I’ve fielded questions on my data, the criticisms that come up aren’t nearly as harsh as the ones I personally have towards my research.
3) Come on guys, isn’t it obvious when the email address isn’t an institution? No one is suspicious by a @gmail/hotmail/whatever?
4) Sigh. And looks like all the retracted papers come from Chinese labs. I’m Chinese-American, and even though I don’t identify with China, I still find this incredibly embarrassing. Get your shit together.
This really emphasizes the need of journals requiring a unique, identification system for investigators like ORCID. Less chance of fraud, and also prevents confusion from shared names or name changes (something I’m grappling with now post-wedding and pre-paper submission). At least it looks like Springer is considering moving towards that, and hopefully a standard across all journals is reached.