Professor Brian Perron has been invited to speak with members of the U.S. House of Representatives Science Committee regarding his investigation of a Russian academic paper mill. Such entities provide fraudulent services – ghostwriting, brokering authorship on accepted papers, and falsifying data–to researchers seeking to publish articles in peer-reviewed journals. Perron has identified approximately 200 papers in the published literature that have evidence of being brokered through this paper mill. His investigation led to the retraction of 30 published articles from the International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning, representing the largest number of retractions from a single social science journal.
“I have seen the nature of scientific publishing change so much, “Perron says. “It used to be, you identified the right journals and you knew you were competing with the best work.” Then Perron saw a blog post about people selling scholarly articles. “You find these articles in the published literature,” he says. “Some are brokered through open access journals, and there's the pay-to-publish model; with a few thousand dollars, you get any paper published you want.
“We should have stronger restrictions if somebody's getting federal funding,” he says. “There is a push to make research more widely available, and open access journals were going to solve that. We want government funded science to be more accessible, but we want to weed out the profiteers.”
“It’s exciting that lawmakers are interested in this topic,” Perron says. “You might call what I’m doing ‘citizen science.’ What I dig up is not peer reviewed. It is more like investigative journalism, like doing citizenship and science together.”
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