Is citation manipulation now acceptable? Whither the digital revolution? New predatory journal blacklist? How can research be made more reproducible? Criminal charges for research misconduct



Many fewer journals are suspended for citation manipulation from Impact Factors analyses this year than previous years, and two are added back after previous suspension. How much manipulation is acceptable? (Why is a measure so easily manipulated considered so important–to some?)

How Much Citation Manipulation Is Acceptable? (Scholarly Kitchen)


  • From The Guardian, whither the digital revolution?

“…although digital technology and the internet have created a new terrain in which the ideals of open access have begun to germinate, they have yet to produce a cost-effective and reliable harvest of accessible knowledge. The acquisition by private publishing companies of peer review processes that had previously been the preserve of scholarly societies has combined with the increased dependence of individual academics on where, rather than what, they publish to control the digital revolution in scholarly publishing. This has prevented the full realisation of its promise to make publishing faster and cheaper.”

It’s time for academics to take back control of research journals (The Guardian)

  • Are journals with few resources less likely to be found, thanks to Google’s algorithms for displaying search results? Another gap for Global South journals to surmount?

“Solid article promotion practices may explain why 89% of the Top 100 Almetric articles in 2016 came from journals that generally employ paywalls as well as the trend for those articles to perform better in social media and the tendency for Gold OA articles from for-profit publishers to perform better.”

Detours and Diversions — Do Open Access Publishers Face New Barriers? (Scholarly Kitchen)


Cabell’s International is forming a paywalled blacklist of journals. Cabell’s list will be drawn from all journals, not just open access journals. Their criteria will be provided at some point in the future (below, plagiarized articles is a criterion, suggesting that journals that don’t screen for plagiarized articles will be at risk of getting listed). However, journals will have to contact Cabell’s to find out whether they are listed. From Nature:

Cabell uses some 65 criteria – which will be reviewed quarterly – to check whether a journal should be on its blacklist, adding points for each suspect finding. Examples include fake editors, plagiarized articles and unclear peer-review policies, says Berryman, although she declined to provide all criteria, saying that the firm would present them later in the year. A team of four employees checks for evidence that journals meet the criteria by searching online or contacting authors and journals for verification.

“It’s pretty much as scientific as we can get at this point,” she says.

“Some of the publishers and journals listed by Beall aren’t on Cabell’s list,” says Berryman. And Cabell’s has added new journals, including some that aren’t open access. The firm declined to provide details of the differences between its list and Beall’s, but says that it will clearly state all the reasons that a journal is on its list. Berryman hopes that will limit libel suits. Publishers or journals will be able to contact Cabell’s to find out whether they are indexed, and will have the opportunity to appeal their status once a year.
Pay-to-view blacklist of predatory journals set to launch (Nature News)


  • A study of Editorial Expressions of Concern: “…We identified 230 EEoCs that affect 300 publications indexed in PubMed, the earliest issued in 1985. Half of the primary EEoCs were issued between 2014 and 2016 (52%). We found evidence of some EEoCs that had been removed by the publisher without leaving a record, and some were not submitted for PubMed or PMC indexing. A minority of publications affected by EEoCs had been retracted by early December 2016 (25%)…The majority of EEoCs were issued because of concerns with validity of data, methods, or interpretation of the publication (68%), and 31% of cases remained open. Issues with images were raised in 40% of affected publications.”

Vaught M, Jordan DC, Bastian H. Concern noted: a descriptive study of editorial expressions of concern in PubMed and PubMed CentralResearch Integrity and Peer Review. 2017;2:10.

  • What scientists accused of misconduct go through:

“…whistleblowers urgently need an internationally accepted code of conduct, including pretty simple rules such as not attacking the scientists in public while the investigation is running, no personal insults, no mass e-mails to multiple recipients in order to ruin the reputation of the scientists, etc.”

It’s not just whistleblowers who deserve protection during misconduct investigations, say researchers (Retraction Watch)

  • Time to expand the Methods section to improve reproducibility?

“Journals can greatly improve the reproducibility of research by requiring methodological transparency. The print paradigm of journal publishing led us to poor practices in an attempt to save space and reduce the number of printed pages. When trying to cut down an article to reach an assigned page/word limit, usually the first thing to go was a detailed methods section. In a digital era where journals are doing away with page limits, why not add back in this vital information? For a journal that still exists in print, why not require detailed methodologies in the supplementary material? If you have a policy requiring public posting of the data behind the experiments, why not a similar policy for the methods?
Reproducible Research, Just Not Reproducible By You (Scholarly Kitchen)

  • How can research be made more reproducible?

In Nature, William Kaelin Jr argues that when researchers are required to provide too many experiments to make broad assertions, they spread their research thin, rather than first confirming their findings using multiple approaches. It also makes peer review daunting for reviewers (requiring a “mini-sabbatical” to review).

We must return to more careful examination of research papers for originality, experimental design and data quality, and adopt more humility about predicting impact, which can truly be known only in retrospect …We should also place more emphasis on the quality of a body of work and whether it has enabled subsequent discoveries, and focus less on where individual papers are published…The main question when reviewing a paper should be whether its conclusions are likely to be correct, not whether it would be important if it were true.”
Publish houses of brick, not mansions of straw (Nature World View)

Peer reviewer stole data and published; now work has been retracted

Yikes: Peer reviewer stole (and published) author’s data (Retraction Watch)


  • BMJ Global Health pulled a published paper on a US-funded trial in Mumbai that had been found to be unethical, after deciding it failed legal review.

BMJ journal yanks paper on cancer screening in India for fear of legal action (Retraction Watch)

Criminal charges for research misconduct

Oransky and colleague present at 5th World Congress on Research Integrity: “A total of 39 science researchers from 7 countries were identified as having been subject to criminal sanctions for actions related to research misconduct between 1979 and 2015…Overall, 14 researchers were criminally sanctioned for actions directly involving their own research. Three of those 14 had criminal charges solely related to research, while the other 11 also had charges stemming indirectly from their research process, e.g., grant fraud, embezzlement of research funds, or bribery.”

Oransky I, Abritis A. Who Faces Criminal Sanctions for Scientific Misconduct? 5th World Congress on Research Integrity 2017 (Abstract).


CRediT (Contributor Roles Taxonomy) proposes a new author contribution taxonomy, to be embedded in the byline. Formerly posted for comment at ; no longer available but project can be viewed at .


Newsletter #10: Originally distributed June 1, 2017. Sources of links include Retraction Watch, Scholarly Kitchen, Twitter.   Providing the links does not imply WAME’s endorsement.