Journal publisher removes Chinese articles

By Shan Jie Source:Global Times Published: 2017/4/21 23:58:39

Springer says peer review process was ‘deliberately compromised’

Berlin-based publisher Springer announced on Friday that it has withdrawn 107 articles written by Chinese institutions from 2012 to 2016 from its journal Tumor Biology.

"We are retracting these published papers because the peer review process required for publication in our journals had been deliberately compromised by fabricated peer reviewer reports," read Springer's statement, according to, a website that reports on retractions of scientific papers.

From the list the Springer posted, the authors involved in the retraction are all from Chinese institutions, mostly medical institutes such as the Department of Neurosurgery, Tongji Hospital under Tongji University in Shanghai.

"As a result of a very big screening we may have identified a small number of articles from various journals. Since these are ongoing investigations we cannot give further details at this point," a spokesman from Springer said, reported.

According to, Springer was the publisher of Tumor Biology in 2016 and the journal is now published by SAGE, an independent academic publisher.

"Peer reviewers are required to anonymously evaluate papers before researchers get funding, but their identities are often compromised and they are contacted for better evaluation reports," Zhi Zhenfeng, an associate research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times in a previous interview.

Sometimes the identities of reviewers are revealed by those in a position to provide funds to further their own personal interests, Zhi said.

"Academic fraud reflects society's fraud habit. In China, many academic institutions use the quantity of articles published by an academic as the standard of assessment, which causes some research fellows to only chase the quantity instead of the quality of their study results," Hu Xingdou, a professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology, told the Global Times on Friday.

Hu noted that to reduce academic fraud, Chinese academia should focus more on quality and make peer reviews public so that the rest of society can help supervise the process.

In August 2016, Springer pulled 64 articles from 10 of its journals after finding evidence of faked peer reviews, nearly all of them by Chinese academics. In March 2015, London-based BioMed Central retracted 43 papers for faking peer reviews, 41 of them by Chinese researchers, according to an earlier Global Times report.

The National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) in December 2016 disclosed several cases of scientific misconduct in an effort to curb such fraud and boost the integrity of research.

 A total of 117 academic papers involving Chinese authors had at that time been withdrawn from publishers including Nature, Springer and Elsevier since 2015, the NSFC, a major source of funding for basic research and frontier exploration in China, said in a statement, the Xinhua News Agency reported in December.

Yang Wei, head of the NSFC, said the foundation maintains a policy of zero tolerance for any academic fraud.

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