The Spandidos Ménage à Trois

Two authors and a publisher found each other – and happily copy/pasted text from PhD theses written by others to pass it off as new review papers. Not once, not twice, but at least nine times.

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An update on …. the Space Dentist papers

Time for a new type of post here on Science Integrity Digest: Updates!

What happened to the papers discussed here, a year or more after reporting them to the journals and the institutes? Which journals care about scientific rigor, and which journals do not give a fork? What are the authors up to now?

In this post, let’s take a look at the Space Dentist papers.

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The Journal of Brouhaha

The Journal of Biological Regulators and Homeostatic Agents (JBRHA) is a puzzling scientific journal. It published the now-withdrawn bizarre paper on 5G and Coronavirus that caused a lot of commotion (“brouhaha“, meaning commotion or uproar). It is indexed in PubMed, giving it the appearance of a true, National Library of Medicine-approved scientific journal. But the editorial board consists mainly of dead people, the Editor in Chief’s affiliations are unclear, and the content of the journal is mainly empty. We might as well call it the JBRouHAha.

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Big trouble in a nanoparticles lab

After an anonymous tip about some papers by the Şen Research Group with possible duplicated graphs, I started digging around a bit more. And I found a couple more papers with duplications. And more. Quite a lot more. As of now, the SRG has 84 papers flagged on PubPeer. [Google Sheet link]

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A Dermatology journal issue that might make your skin crawl

A group of authors has found a way to crank up the number of papers on their resumes. The complete “Global Dermatology” September 30, 2019 issue of the Open Access Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences is filled with papers from the same group of authors, headed by Torello Lotti and Massimo Fioranelli, both from the University of G. Marconi in Rome, Italy.

Some of these papers contain photos of patients without consent, others contain duplicated images, and some papers are full of extraordinary claims without any evidence. Just a bunch of pretty diagrams.

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The “48” mini-mill

A short post highlighting a small set of papers (currently five) that all share some interesting features. As before, these might all have been produced by the same paper-writing entity, a so-called “paper mill”.

Similar to the Tadpole paper set, where all Western blot panels showed the same background noise, most wound healing assay photos in this mini-mill share the same microscope irregularities. And all of them describe a group of 48 patients.

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#MedBikini paper will be retracted

This week, a scientific paper published in the Journal of Vascular Surgery resulted in a heated discussion on Twitter, with the hashtag “#MedBikini” trending among medical professionals on Twitter.

In the paper, “Prevalence of unprofessional social media content among young vascular surgeons“, Hardouin et al., DOI: 10.1016/j.jvs.2019.10.069, three male authors screened young students’ social media posts for “unprofessional” behavior.

After creating an outcry on Twitter, the journal announced that the paper will be retracted.

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The “Effect” Paper Mill

While working on the larger “Tadpole” and “Stock Photo” paper set, plenty of other papers with similar title and layout structure were found that appeared to belong to different sets.

In this post, I will present to you the “Effect” paper set, uncovered by super-spotter Hoya Camphorifolia (a pseudonym).

I called this set the “Effect” set because about half of the papers’ titles start with “Effect of” or “Effects of”.

As with other paper sets suspected of being produced by a paper mill, this group of papers are all authored by different research groups at different hospitals, studying different animal models and therapeutics. Yet, they all share at least one image with each other.

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Worst paper of 2020? 5G and Coronavirus induction

This paper made my jaw drop:

5G Technology and induction of coronavirus in skin cells – M Fioranelli et al. – J Biol Regul Homeost Agents 2020 Jul 16;34(4). doi: 10.23812/20-269-E-4 [archivedPDF]

The paper suggests that 5G waves (the latest cell phone technology) can spontaneously generate Coronaviruses in skin cells. Yet, there is nothing in this article that proves this extraordinary claim. It is absolute nonsense.

Combining two hot topics into one title, this article is surely asking for some attention. Attention it will get. Because it is one of the worst scientific papers I have seen this year.

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