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Establishment academia's credibility destroyed by hundreds of cases of research fraud, plagiarism


Academic fraud

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(NaturalNews) What was once considered a rare exception to the norm appears to be evolving into a disturbingly common pattern of abuse. Peer-reviewed science, and the integrity of what makes it into even the most well-respected scientific journals today, may not be all that it seems, as closer scrutiny reveals rampant publishing of plagiarized and oftentimes entirely fraudulent content.

Research studies that seem on their surface to have been vested by qualified scholars are increasingly turning out to be completely fabricated, according to new reports. An extensive investigation by Scientific American's Charles Seife, for instance, reveals a shocking pattern of counterfeit "paper mill" studies making their way into some of the most highly regarded and extensively cited journals, further damaging the credibility of what the world considers to be factual knowledge.

Klaus Kayser, who's been publishing electronic journals for nearly two decades, says he was unaware of the serious anomalies at the journal he currently edits, Diagnostic Pathology, prior to being contacted by Scientific American. A shocking six of the 16 studies published in the May 2014 edition of Diagnostic Pathology, which were analyzed by Scientific American, contained unusual phrase repetitions and other irregularities that pointed to fraud.

With an impact factor of 2.411, which puts it in the top 25 percent of all scientific journals tracked by the Thompson Reuters Journal Citation Reports, Diagnostic Pathology generally has a good reputation for publishing quality content. But the discovery of not just one but several potentially fraudulent papers in just one issue of the journal kind of changes things.

"Nobody told this to me," stated Kayser to Scientific American, apparently unaware of what was taking place under his editorship. "I'm very grateful to you," he added about having this information brought to his attention.

But isn't this Kayser's job as editor of Diagnostic Pathology, to investigate the legitimacy of papers submitted to him prior to their publication? Why did it take Scientific American conducting its own investigation to reveal that a process largely driven by the lure of grant money, influence and power might be getting hijacked by opportunistic leeches without a conscience?

Many major publishers having to deal with onslaught of scientific fraud

Blame doesn't fall solely on Kayser or his journal, of course, as scientific fraud is rearing its ugly head all throughout the publishing and research world. The Scientific American investigation detected more than 100 scientific articles recently published that show signs of fraud or plagiarism, suggesting that the entire peer-review system may be compromised.

"The apparent fraud is taking place as the world of scientific publishing--and research--is undergoing rapid change," wrote Seife.

"Scientists, for whom published articles are the route to promotion or tenure or support via grants, are competing harder than ever before to get their articles into peer-reviewed journals. Scientific journals are proliferating on the Web but, even so, supply is still unable to keep up with the ever-increasing demand for respectable scientific outlets."

All major publishers, including Wiley, Public Library of Science, Taylor & Francis and Nature Publishing Group, are having to come to grips with the strong likelihood that fraudulent studies sneaked their way through the gates and into their respected journals. Whether it be plagiarized verbiage, stolen imagery or even computer-generated nonsense, the flood of fake papers being published is a serious issue that can no longer be ignored.

"Now that a number of companies have figured out how to make money off of scientific misconduct, that presumption of honesty [that used to be standard in the publishing world] is in danger of becoming an anachronism," warned Seife.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.scientificamerican.com

http://www.nature.com

http://www.npr.org

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