Academic journals in Russia are retracting more than 800 papers following a probe into unethical publication practices with the aid of a fee appointed by way of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS). The moves come inside the wake of several other queries suggesting the extensive Russian medical literature is riddled with plagiarism, self-plagiarism, and so-known as gift authorship, in which teachers emerge as a co-author without having contributed any paintings.
The RAS fee’s preliminary document documenting the troubles and journals’ responses to them is “a bombshell,” says Gerson Sher, a former staffer at the U.S. National Science Foundation and the writer of a latest e-book on U.S.-Russia science cooperation. The file, launched the day gone by, “will toughen the suspicions and fears of many—that their united states of america is not going down the right path in technological know-how and that it’s damaging its very own popularity,” says Sher, who applauds RAS for commissioning the investigation.
Russia’s kind of 6000 instructional journals, the huge majority posted in Russian, are popular among the u . S .’s lecturers. A 2019 look at observed that Russian authors post a ways greater in home journals than, as an example, their opposite numbers in Poland, Germany, or Indonesia. But standards are regularly low. In March 2018, as an instance, Dissernet, a network geared toward cleaning up the Russian literature, diagnosed extra than 4000 instances of plagiarism and questionable authorship amongst 150,000 papers in approximately 1500 journals.
And Russian authors regularly republish their personal paintings, says Yury Chekhovich, CEO of Antiplagiat, a plagiarism detection corporation. In September 2019, after sifting via 4.3 million Russian-language studies, Antiplagiat located that greater than 70,000 had been posted as a minimum two times; some were published as many as 17 instances. Chekhovich believes maximum times are because of self-plagiarism. Meanwhile, the website 123mi.U claims to have brokered authorships for extra than 10,000 researchers through selling slots on manuscripts written with the aid of others that have been already established by means of journals.
The RAS fee, officially called the Commission for Counteracting the Falsification of Scientific Research, investigated the hassle independently. It has skilled fraud busters on board. Dissernet co-founder Andrew Zayakin, a physicist on the Institute for Theoretical and Experimental Physics, is the fee’s secretary; it is also several other “academic activists,” Zayakin says, together with representatives of the Society for Evidence-Based Medicine, the Russian Association of Scientific Editors and Publishers (RASEP), and Russia’s Scientific Electronic Library (eLibrary). The fee used software program to look loads of Russian-language journals—starting from natural sciences, agronomy, psychology, and remedy to economics and regulation—for textual content overlap. Suspicious papers had been checked manually to confirm that they counted as plagiarism or self-plagiarism. By comparing the author lists of papers that were posted two times or greater, the commssion additionally identified apparent instances of “difficult to understand authorship”—lecturers who have been an creator on one model of the paper however not the alternative.
Last summer time, the commission requested 541 journals to retract a complete of 2528 papers. In its interim file, the commission writes that 390 journals have so far replied to the inquiry, 263 of that have agreed to retract all suspicious papers; others agreed to retract some of the highlighted papers but now not others, or gave legitimate motives why the papers shouldn’t be pulled.
Eight journals explicitly refused to deal with the issues; the record urges that five of them be eliminated from the Russian Science Citation Index, a database run with the aid of eLibrary. (Because publication in listed journals is mostly a prerequisite for promotions and investment in Russia, delisted journals are idea to be much less appealing to authors.) Victor Glukhov, eLibrary’s deputy director, says the group’s own expert council will look at the problem, however is likely to agree. Zayakin emphasizes that the exercising is a piece in development; he hopes the risk of being delisted will persuade journals that haven’t but replied—or have refused to drag papers on flimsy grounds—to take the fee’s findings seriously.
The equal RAS commission brought on a stir in September 2019, when it advocated now not balloting for 56 applicants—out of a complete of greater than 1800—throughout the academy’s club elections, because of their alleged involvement in plagiarism and other kinds of misbehavior. That “precipitated loads of anxiety over how the fee is prepared and who pulls the strings in it,” says Dmitry Malkov, a technological know-how communication pupil at ITMO University in St. Petersburg. (The academy had approximately two hundred new memberships to be had; only some of the 56 were elected.)
The new investigation “triggered anxiety and struggle” as well, says commission member Anna Kuleshova, chair of RASEP’s Council on the Ethics of Scientific Publications.
Kuleshova says some Russian journals have been blind to the world over prevalent standards round moral publishing and retractions. “I wish that our paintings will now not handiest reduce scientometric distortions, and help us to dispose of rubbish guides,” she says, “however may also draw interest to issues associated with the management of technology.”