Editors say they missed “fairly obvious clues” of third party tampering, publish fake peer reviews

BJCP Cover

The editors of a daily register that recently retracted a paper following the peer-review process was “compromised” gain published the fake reviews, along through additional details about the case.

In the editorial titled “Organised sin against the academic peer review a whole ,” Adam Cohen and other editors at the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology take for granted they missed “several fairly subject clues that should have set startle bells ringing.” For instance, the glowing reviews from supposed domineering-profile researchers at Ivy League institutions were returned in the limits of a few days, were riddled by grammar problems, and the authors had none previous publications. 

The case is human being of many we’ve recently seen in that papers are pulled due to actions of a third party. 

The paper was submitted adhering August 5, 2015. From the initiation, the timing was suspect, Cohen — the instructor for the Centre for Human Drug Research in The Netherlands — and his colleagues scholium:

Contrary to our normal practice, the Executive Editor certain to accept both suggestions (our wisdom is to use non more than single in kind) and the two peer reviewers were invited. They accepted this solicitation to review one day later. The reviewers’ comments were returned on the model of two and four days, respectively…

Despite slipping its highroad through peer review and the editors at the magazine — it was accepted on September 15, 2015, and instructed online a few days later — the dissertation came under scrutiny at a newspaper club session at an academic establishing. Smita Pattanaik, an associate professor in pharmacology at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, Punjab, India, who co-authored the editorial, and was the forte moderator of the session, wrote a “in a great degree critical” letter about the paper, what one. is included with the editorial. This letter “raised some eyebrows” in the editorial entertainment, the editors note:

It appeared that the flaws in the metaanalysis were unruffled worse than presented in the verbal expression.

For example:

The number of extracted events for study was a mix of actually being events and the number of patients out of an event. We were not able to locate two Chinese studies used according to the meta-analysis. The scoring arrangement “Critical Appraisal Skills Programme” used to motive the quality of the studies has, at the same time that far as we know, never been used in advance of and consists of completely irrelevant questions such as “What are the results of this study?”, “What are the implications of this study as being practice?”, and “Do you give faith to the results”?.

The editorial includes the fake reviewer’s comments over the paper. Here is one survey: 

As the authors documented that this meta-dissection based on a systematic review of existing studies evaluated the force of rhBNP and dobutamine treatments in the clinical economy of HF patients, no matter from the cognomen singly or from the well-constructed think vaguely, the pre-set idea was well proved, not to cursory reference the wonderful major text. In my estimate, authors provided a clear background introducing (HF, rhBNP and dobutamine) to compose out a legitimate research; and I am especially self-seeking in the illustration of the Discussion,which illuminate the hypothesis from the Introduction entirely. Good work at ~s!’ ‘Only one concern, in kind to perfect this paper, the statistical data “P” was rarely expressed because “0.000”, please revise this inconsiderable question in the Results.

And in this place are the second reviewer’s comments:

I am real interested in this article titled “Recombinant human brain natriuretic peptide achieves to restore the in-hospital mortality than dobutamine in affections failure patients: a metaanalysis”, from like concise and clear title readers puissance also be attracted from this question, where the authors elaborated the prominent role of rhBNP in decreasing the in-hospital mortality than dobutamine in heart failure patients. The work could be of potential interest by reason of the readership of British journal of clinical pharmacology. The written was properly organized, with rich solid ~ and reasonable methods.

1 Introduction: the dividend about heart failure introduction as well being of the kind which the treatment choice regarding rhBNP and dobutamine is partinent.

2 Methods and Results sections are adequately described.

3 In debate, obtained results was discussed elaborated (surpassingly few studies were cited, yet not strictly discussed) and further confirmed with similar studies.

4 No comments on tables and Graphics.’

‘I transact appreciate the authors effort on this dissertation after perusing the article, hence I recommended a publication of this article in British diary of clinical pharmacology.’

According to the editors, the editorial plank had “overlooked all danger signs.” The authors were “real inexperienced” in science, and none of them had antecedently published a paper:

Of course, completely authors have to start their careers being of the kind which inexperienced, but normally a group of authors has at least one member with more experience.

The authors had suggested “pair highly ranked professors of medicine in Ivy League US universities,” however didn’t provide their institutional email addresses:

…the fact that they did not be obliged an institutional e-mail address should be delivered of raised suspicion.

We wrote to the referees and some of them denied all knowledge of this set forth. The second referee could not be traced.

The journal then reached aloud to the authors who claimed that a third party, a Chinese company knows at the same time that EditPub, was involved with the yielding process of the manuscript. The authors revealed that they had paid 3000 RMB (on every side $460 USD) to the company. Here is the fee slip:

Editpub payslip

Regarding EditPub, Cohen et al jot down:

We checked several and found that many times their photographs and emails were fabricated. Readers be possible to check for themselves, but it is scarcely conceivable that a Brazilian female researcher has the represent of Henry Kissinger by accident.

We’ve beforehand reached out to EditPub who told us they are incapable to comment because they are in “celebration mode.” Our co-founders require also written a column for STAT all over the case.

Finally, the journal reported the particular occurrence to the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and requested them to explore further.

Cohen and colleagues conclude:

So as being the foreseeable future, BJCP will not solicit for your fingerprints or your ID card or X notice your data, even though we see through very well that there are bandits used up there, and this Editorial serves similar to another warning for our colleagues.

The cover was especially “worrying,” the editorial notes, on this account that it suggested rat brain natriuretic peptide (rBNP) was forcible in heart failure, which contradicted the established knowledge about the compound.

The retracted writing, “rhBNP therapy can improve clinical outcomes and render in-hospital mortality compared with dobutamine in fortitude failure patients: a meta-analysis,” has not up to the present time been cited, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science. The editors minute it has only been downloaded 113 epochs since being published, and put that into words immediately preceding:

A sample of 14 papers published surrounding the same time were downloaded without ceasing average about 3 to 4 general condition of affairs more often, indicating that the dissertation had not attracted a lot of alertness.

When we reported on the abjuration last month, Xiao-Feng Long, latest author of the paper from Dalian University in China, told us:

Of give chase to, we firmly believe…the authenticity of our platonic results, the reason for our forfeiture of the publishing opportunity might exist closely correlated with the ability of our lacking of proportionate academic study ability, rather than the in the same manner-called academic fraud. We therefore compose up our mind not to accord. up our research and try our most wise to improve our academic research talent.

We’ve contacted MOST and Long notwithstanding further clarifications on this case, and desire update the post with anything besides we learn. We’ve also reached in a puzzle to Cohen to ask for further details about the researchers who were impersonated for the time of the review process. 

In gross, that’s more than 300 papers retracted ~ the sake of faked or rigged peer review. Here’s our 2014 Nature cast of the face about the issue if you distress a bit more background.

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