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Study Reveals Scale of 'Science Scam' in Academic Publishing

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scientist tends a paper-generating machine, illustration

Paper mills typically use AI-supported text generation, data and statistical manipulation, image and text pirating, and other techniques.

Credit: Science

One in five articles published in scientific journals may contain faked data produced by unauthorized "paper mills" that are paid to fabricate submissions, according to a study by German researchers who used new techniques to "red flag" problematic papers in biomedicine.

The study adds to the growing evidence that academic publishing faces a damaging surge in fabricated research sold by paper mills to researchers desperate for published work to boost their careers. It also backs up recent evidence that the majority of fake research comes from China.

So called "paper mills" "use AI-supported, automated production techniques at scale and sell fake publications to students, scientists, and physicians under pressure to advance their careers," according to the paper, which has been posted on MedRxiv but has not been peer reviewed.

"Fake science publishing is possibly the biggest science scam of all time, wasting financial resources, slowing down medical progress, and possibly endangering lives," says team leader Professor Bernhard Sabel, who heads the Institute of Medical Psychology at Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg. Sabel estimates that fake research is equivalent to around 300,000 papers a year.

From Financial Times
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