Message to IEEE Conference Organizers: 60 Scientific Articles Retracted Due to Peer Review and Citation Abuse

 

Dear Editors in Chief, Conference Organizers and Conference Program Chairs,

We want to make you aware of the recent retractions of 60 articles published in the The Journal of Vibration and Control (JVC) published by Sage, due to what appears to be an elaborate work of fraud. While you can read the complete details from the links at the end of this message, in short, the JVC online submission system was manipulated by a single academic who fabricated up to 130 fake identities to create a “peer review and citation ring”. In other words, it appears that he suggested his own fake identities as reviewers of his own papers.

As you know, IEEE follows strict editorial guidelines for the peer review and evaluation of articles that appear in IEEE periodicals and conferences to ensure that the content is of the highest quality possible. However, given the extreme pressure on academics in many parts of the world to publish and to increase their personal citation index in order to advance their careers, IEEE may also be exposed to similar types of activities.

 

We appreciate the substantial efforts that you, our editors, conference organizers and program chairs already make to carefully select the best articles. Given these recent events we are encouraging you to review your article and reviewer selection processes to ensure that IEEE is not exposed to similar vulnerabilities. As a reminder you can find guidelines in the following document:

IEEE Publication Services and Products Operations Manual (Section 8.2.2)
http://www.ieee.org/documents/opsmanual.pdf

A fundamental factor contributing to behavior such as that by the JVC author is the increasing reliance on bibliometric indicators by employers and institutions to evaluate candidates for positions, promotions, and raises. Too often such indicators are misinterpreted and misused as the principal (or even sole) method to rank candidates.  In 2013, IEEE took a stand against this worrisome trend. If you are not already familiar with this effort, we encourage you to read the:

IEEE Statement on Correct Use of Bibliometrics http://www.ieee.org/publications_standards/publications/rights/ieee_bibliometric_statement_sept_2013.pdf

Moving forward, as technical leaders in the IEEE your role should be twofold. At a community level, it is time for each of us to educate the community to avoid the improper use of bibliometrics to evaluate the quality of engineers and scientists. This will reduce the incentive for unethical behavior. At the process level we encourage everyone to be vigilant through their procedures and report any suspicious behavior. Incidents of concern should be sent to the following IEEE staff:

  • For periodicals: Fran Zappulla, Publications, f.zappulla@ieee.org
  • For conference proceedings: Gordon MacPherson, Meetings, Conferences & Events, tpii@ieee.org

 

Sincerely,

Gianluca Setti
2014 IEEE Vice President, Publication Services and Products

William Moses
IEEE Conferences Committee Chair

For additional details on this story you may read:

1) http://www.uk.sagepub.com/aboutus/press/2014/jul/7.htm

2) http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/jul/10/academic-journal-retracts-articles-peer-review-ring

3) http://www.vox.com/2014/7/10/5884093/this-scientific-journal-just-had-to-retract-60-papers-how-on-earth

4) http://retractionwatch.com/2014/07/08/sage-publications-busts-peer-review-and-citation-ring-60-papers-retracted/

5) http://retractionwatch.com/2014/07/14/taiwans-education-minister-resigns-in-wake-of-sage-peer-review-scandal

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