The journal BioMed Central (BMC) has retracted dozens of papers that it began investigating after editors had noticed inconsistencies regarding reviewers. In total, BMC retracted 43 papers according to the website Retraction Watch.
Each of the retracted papers were originally published in 2015 and they were spread over at least 13 BMC journals, with 15 studies having been published in the European Journal of Medical Research. The retraction notices published by BMC all read similarly, citing suspicion about the peer review process.
Furthermore, the notice runs: “As a result, the scientific integrity of the article cannot be guaranteed. A systematic and detailed investigation suggests that a third party was involved in supplying fabricated details of potential peer reviewers for a large number of manuscripts submitted to different journals.”
As many as 41 of the 43 articles were written by doctors who worked in Chinese hospitals, according to The Times of India. Recently China surpassed the U.S. as the country producing the highest number of peer-reviewed scientific paper per year.
As to what happened with the recent 43-paper retraction, BMC senior editor of research integrity Elizabeth Moylan wrote on her blog: “Some of the manipulations appear to have been conducted by third-party agencies offering language-editing and submission assistance to authors.” It seems that these agencies proposed “fabricated reviewers on their [the paper authors] behalf.”
This is not the first time that the BMC has had to retract papers. BMC launched an investigation of around 50 papers published in its titles in November 2014, when journal editors noticed suspicious errors, such as incorrect e-mail addresses or misspelled names for reviewers, during final checks on the manuscripts.