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Springer's 'Tumor Biology' has retracted 107 papers after a fraud has been discovered.

I wonder if there are any important nutrition science and related journals which let choose referees to the article authors.




Springer is retracting 107 papers from one journal after discovering they had been accepted with fake peer reviews. Yes, 107.

To submit a fake review, someone (often the author of a paper) either makes up an outside expert to review the paper, or suggests a real researcher — and in both cases, provides a fake email address that comes back to someone who will invariably give the paper a glowing review. In this case, Springer, the publisher of Tumor Biology through 2016, told us that an investigation produced “clear evidence” the reviews were submitted under the names of real researchers with faked emails. Some of the authors may have used a third-party editing service, which may have supplied the reviews. The journal is now published by SAGE.

The retractions follow another sweep by the publisher last year, when Tumor Biology retracted 25 papers for compromised review and other issues, mostly authored by researchers based in Iran. With the latest bunch of retractions, the journal has now retracted the most papers of any other journal indexed by Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, formerly part of Thomson Reuters. In 2015, its impact factor — 2.9 — ranked it 104th out of 213 oncology journals.

Here’s more from Springer’s official statement, out today:


After the retractions as a result of fake peer review (amongst others) in 2015 and 2016 that involved Tumor Biology, the decision was made to screen new papers before they are released to production. Based on this extra screening, new names of fake reviewers were detected and in order to clean up our scientific records, we will now start retracting these affected articles.

The current retractions are not a new case of integrity breach but are the result of a deeper manual investigation which became necessary after our previous retractions from Tumor Biology in 2016. The extent of the current retractions was not obvious from the earlier investigations in 2015. 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.

The statement adds:

Springer reviews on a regular basis all relationships with its business partners. The contract with the International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers [which owns the journal] has been discontinued and not renewed. At the end of 2016, Springer stopped publishing Tumor Biology.

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It would have been nice to have seen some facts and/or speculation about "to what end" these people were using fake reviews.


The end is obviously having their articles published. When referees are chosen by the editorial board, authors cannot do much to influence such referees.

Most cases are probably coming from college guys, with the purpose to beef up their publications list. In the academic world, that means you have easier access to better positions.

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Obviously I know they wanted to get published, but was wondering if they were:

  • Just being lazy.
  • Trying to promote an agenda or product (financial implications).
  • Trying to improve resume (career), but work too sloppy to get published on its own merit.
  • Some combination of the above.
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Gordo, I would bet the points you listed are in the order with # 1 dominant by far:


  1. Improve resume/career in the shortest time possible
  2. Being lazy or not able to write noteworthy articles
  3. Promote an agenda

Combinations of 1\and 2 are common. 


The 3rd depends on the manufacturer, but the big ones usually enroll big professors who do not need fake referees.

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