Selected portions of the article follow:
We asked what prompted the investigation. Bennett told us:
In April 2022, Hindawi’s Research Integrity team led an initial investigation into a single Special Issue (SI) after a Chief Editor raised concerns about some of the papers published in it. The team decided to investigate the content of the journal further. Through this investigation, the team highlighted a pattern of irregular and concerning reviewer activity and identified potential ‘bad actors’ that were present across many of these publications.
These concerns prompted the Publishing Insights and Research Integrity teams, enabled by recently enhanced analytic capabilities and newly developed dashboards providing views across all reviewer activity, to conduct a wider investigation to determine whether these same bad actors were involved in peer review manipulation elsewhere in the Hindawi portfolio.
Following the discovery that these bad actors were present in other journals, the Hindawi leadership team put in place a cross-functional working team combining the manual and data-driven investigation which resulted in the identification of further published articles.
In early August, Hindawi expanded the investigation under a combined investigation team comprising Research Integrity experts, data and analytics experts, publishing and operational teams, and legal counsel from both Wiley and Hindawi. This team evaluated in depth review activity across all potentially impacted articles and manuscripts. This resulted in a list of ‘compromised’ reviewers and editors in addition to the bad actors already discovered, identification of networks that exist between them, patterns of review activity, and insight into published articles and manuscripts at each stage in the review process that we could initially label as ‘compromised’. On September 6, the combined investigation team began assessing published articles which led to the initial recommendation to retract 511 articles that are compromised based on reviewer activity alone. We expect ongoing investigations to result in further retractions.
He did say that the publisher has banned the individuals its investigation identified, will contact research integrity officers or department heads as appropriate, and has shared its findings with industry groups:
It is increasingly apparent to all involved in safeguarding and investigating issues of research integrity that closing rings down at one publisher can simply move the problem to others. We are committed to taking an active role in preventing that.
HT/Willis E. and Martin C