Trust Us, We’re Scientists

So if the scientific establishment is so robust and full of integrity and credibility, how does this happen:

This scientific journal just had to retract 60 papers

One of the biggest cases of scientific misconduct in history was uncovered this week.

On July 8, scientific publisher SAGE announced that it was retracting a whopping 60 scientific papers connected to Taiwanese researcher Peter Chen, in what appears to be an elaborate work of fraud.

This case is one of what appears to be a recent spate of scientific malfeasance. So what’s going on here? Is this just a uniquely bad run? Or does the recent spate of scientific misconduct point to a flaw in the peer-review process? Here’s a rundown:

The 60 papers makes this one of the five biggest cases of retraction in science history. (The dubious record is thought to be held by anesthesiologist Yoshitaka Fujii, who has 183 papers retracted or pending retraction.)

SAGE has been a bit cagey about this particular case, so some of the details are still sketchy.

But from what we can gather, it appears that Chen created up to 130 fake email accounts of “assumed and fabricated identities” that created a “peer review and citation ring.” In other words, it appears that he suggested his own fake identities to the journal as reviewers of his papers. And he may have used fake authors, too.

I’m sure this never happens in climate science.  There just isn’t that much competition to make a name for yourself, get government and foundation grants, etc.  (/sarc.)