The Daily Chart: How Big Is Academic Fraud?

It was reported a few weeks ago that Wiley, one of the oldest and most established academic journal publishers, was retracting 11,300 papers, many of which were partly or wholly fabricated. Further, Wiley is shutting down 19 journals.

Most of these fabrications were in Wliey’s science journals. But, but—peer review! Why was there apparently none—or at least none that was serious? Part of the Wall Street Journal‘s explanation is worth taking in:

For Wiley, which publishes more than 2,000 journals, the problem came to light two years ago, shortly after it paid nearly $300 million for Hindawi, a company founded in Egypt in 1997 that included about 250 journals. In 2022, a little more than a year after the purchase, scientists online noticed peculiarities in dozens of studies from journals in the Hindawi family.

Scientific papers typically include citations that acknowledge work that informed the research, but the suspect papers included lists of irrelevant references. Multiple papers included technical-sounding passages inserted midway through, what Bishop called an “AI gobbledygook sandwich.” Nearly identical contact emails in one cluster of studies were all registered to a university in China where few if any of the authors were based. It appeared that all came from the same source. [Emphasis added.]

Now, “gobbledygook sandwich” can describe a large majority of articles published in humanities articles, yet so far there is no effort to label this output for what is clearly is: intellectual fraudulence. I wonder how many of the articles captured in this data series deserve the Wiley treatment:

By the way, Wiley paid $300 million for an Egyptian academic publishing company founded as recently as 1997? I’m in the wrong business.

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