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ISSN: 1899-1874
Medical Studies/Studia Medyczne
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Should journal editors be held responsible for fake peer reviews?

Xingshun Qi, Han Deng, Xiaozhong Guo

Medical Studies/Studia Medyczne 2016; 32 (4): 315
Fake peer review is becoming a novel and fashionable nomenclature in the field of publication ethics [1, 2]. It refers to an unethical behaviour that the submitters fabricate the recommended peer reviewers’ emails, and then review their own manuscripts. Such misbehaviour has been frequently observed in China; consequently, this country’s medical research integrity is questioned [3]. Beyond all doubt, the author/submitters should be severely punished. However, as we rethink it deeply, two prerequisites for this misbehaviour should be acknowledged: 1) the submitters are required to recommend the potential peer reviewers in the submission system; and 2) the journal editors agree with the submitters’ proposals. Notably, before external reviews, the journal editors have the opportunity to check the reliability of peer reviewers’ contact information; and after that, they are also able to validate the accuracy of peer reviewers’ comments and to make more unbiased decisions. If so, the retractions due to fake peer reviews would be absolutely avoided. Indeed, to facilitate the responsibility of journal editors, some journals have discontinued the recommendations of potential peer reviewers [4], and others suggest that only peer reviewers with academic and/or institutional e-mails should be eligible [5].

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


1. Ferguson C, Marcus A, Oransky I. Publishing: the peer-review scam. Nature 2014; 515: 480-2.
2. Haug CJ. Peer-review Fraud-Hacking the scientific publication process. N Engl J Med 2015; 373: 2393-5.
3. China’s medical research integrity questioned. Lancet 2015; 385: 1365.
4. Moylan E. Inappropriate manipulation of peer review. In: BioMed Central 2015.
5. Reiss CS. Ethical concerns. DNA Cell Biol 2015.

Address for correspondence

Xingshun Qi MD
Department of Gastroenterology
General Hospital of
Shenyang Military Area
No. 83 Wenhua Road
110840 Shenyang, China
Phone: 86-29-84771537
E-mail: xingshunqi@126.com

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