Orthopedics This Week | February 14, 2017 - Page 13
ORTHOPEDICS THIS WEEK VOLUME 13 , ISSUE 5 | FEBRUARY 14 , 2017 13 led to rise in unethical practices , dubious research practices such as salami slicing , plagiarism , duplicate publication , fraud , ghost authors etc .”
With such otherworldly demands and seeming competition from fellow colleagues and researchers , some hopeful authors see faked reviews as the only option . In “ Publish or Perish ,” Rawat and Meena point out , “ It is frequent to find that the head of departments and senior professors are producing a dozen publications in a year . This means that the person has conceived idea , submitted protocol , got Institutional Review Board clearance , done the research , wrote the paper and published it every month . It is virtually impossible for a human being to do this .”
Simultaneously , supply keeps pace with demand . According to data from clinicaltrials . gov , the volume of clinical studies for peer review has grown 28 % per year for the past 17 years .
Quantity can often come at the cost of quality . Rawat and Meena say , “ This pressure to increase the number of publications has led to unethical practices and waste full [ sic ] research .” No matter how niche or unique a research topic , its likely writers can find a publisher for it . “ There is a ridiculous proliferation of scientific journals of all kind . Every other day we see a new journal cropping up .”
Band-Aid Fixes ?
In response to the abuse of electronic manuscript submissions , some publishers including BioMed Central have disabled automatic peer review requests from authors . Instead , BioMed Central allegedly asks for peer review email addresses in the author cover letter , but this cannot be confirmed . Currently , the BioMed Central website can be viewed here .
However , disabling automatic requests for peer reviews and replacing the approach with having editors email potential reviewers directly seems unlikely to do much to curb the depressing incidence of fake reviews . Will supplying faked email addresses , or emails of friends and third party vendors , directly to an editor instead of entering it into an automated system make authors think twice about their ethics ?
On behalf of every physician and patient it better . If not , then the entire system has very deep problems .
The current state of publisher vetting potential reviewers is a fragile one . Savvy editors know the red flags — such as unreasonably fast reviewer turnarounds ( as with the Moon case ). However , that ’ s not necessarily a sign of a faked review . Sometimes the author may have given reviewers a generous heads-up about the request and the reviewer had responses ready . Perhaps the reviewer had already penned a review for the author ’ s submission to another journal , and simply swapped out the salutations . Editors are also watching for email addresses that seem personal and aren ’ t linked to an institution , though again that isn ’ t a sure sign of a faked review . Plus , it ’ s very possible that the author is asking a friend who happens to be at an institute for a socalled “ review .”
Ultimately , the dirty work will be left to editors and journals who are charged with confirming the integrity of every manuscript they publish , from ensuring lack of plagiarism to reputable reviews . At the same time , taking steps to actively discourage authors from such shortcuts can also play a role . What happens to an author like Moon who ’ s caught faking reviews ? Usually nothing , save for a bit of shame and embarrassment . With so many publications available , even if an author is banned from submitting to one journal ( which is on a case by case basis ), there are plenty of other journals the author can submit to in the future . The feasibility of taking serious action against an author caught manipulating the system is questionable , and would require the banding together of publishers on at least a national if not international scale . However , such an undertaking may eventually lead to a lighter load for editors charged with keeping an eagle eye on all submissions .
Faked reviews , at first blush , may seem an obvious ethical faux pas . However , why would an author — usually a scientist , researcher and doctor who has dedicated their life to study and science — take such a shortcut at the tailend of a massive undertaking like a research paper ? Perhaps faked reviews are the inevitable side effects of a flawed system that demands too much while offering up a desired path that ’ s just too tempting to overlook . ♦