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4 August 2022 Statement

A Frontiers research-integrity investigation has led to the retraction of 13 articles. The investigation has exposed a pattern of gross misconduct by a ring of researchers (of whom several cannot be unambiguously identified) who submitted papers under false identities, created false accounts on our researcher network, assigned editors and reviewers of either fake or stolen identity to review the articles, and manipulated the list of references.  There is strong evidence that the same ring has been active at other publishers; we have, therefore, brought the case to the attention of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).

Two articles of this cluster included fake identities as co-authors in addition to two fake reviewers and are retracted.

The further 11 retracted articles were assigned to at least one fake peer reviewer within the same ring. Because the peer-review had been compromised, the investigation included a post-publication review of the articles, which concluded that these 11 articles should have been rejected because they do not meet the standards for publication in Frontiers.

The multiple and conflicting statements received from the editors and authors involved offer no satisfactory explanation of the course of events. But it remains certain that the peer-review process has been compromised. 

Protecting the scientific record is our absolute priority. We are unable to resolve this complex web of misconduct, but in order to ensure that the truth comes to light, all the details of the case have been shared with the institutions for further investigation.  

The investigation was conducted in accordance with Frontiers’ policies and the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) guidelines. 

Ends

Retracted articles:

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2021.700585/full

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2021.750177/full

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2021.717187/full

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2021.707634/full

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fcell.2020.600950/full

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fcell.2020.598078/full

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2021.724470/full

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fcell.2020.634137/full 

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2020.00897/full

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2021.640302/full

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fcell.2021.636553/full

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2020.595760/full

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2020.597429/full

About Frontiers

Frontiers is the 3rd most-cited and 6th largest research publisher. We publish groundbreaking discoveries by the world’s top experts. Scientists empower society and our mission is to accelerate scientific discovery by making science open. We place the researcher at the center of everything we do and enable the research community to develop the solutions we need to live healthy lives on a healthy planet. Featuring custom-built technology, artificial intelligence, and rigorous quality standards, our research articles have been viewed more than 1.9 billion times, reflecting the power of research that is open for all.

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