01.07.2020 change 01.07.2020

Journals Flooded With “Dubious” Coronavirus Publications, Say Academics

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Scientific journals have been flooded with poor-quality articles about coronavirus, says a leading team of academics with the Universal Scientific Education and Research Network (USERN).

Writing in the journal International Immunopharmacology, the 18 researchers from the US, Belgium, Iran, Venezuela, South Africa, Ireland, Germany and Poland said that the quality of the articles was of such dubious quality that they “should never have been written.”

Dr. Piotr Rzymski from the Poznan University of Medical Sciences who initiated the commentary said: “Since April I have reviewed 60 papers for biomedical journals, most of which should never have been written, let alone sent to scientific journals.”

He added that many of the journals have a strategy of quickly publishing articles with only a day or two review them.

“The result is publishing articles of dubious quality. There are already cases of papers withdrawn even from very well-known journals, because they turned out to have no support in reality.

'Such practices are harmful to everyone, to periodicals with an established position and to the reputation of the scientific world. They can also potentially threaten people's lives,” he said. 

According to Rzymski, one author proposed fighting the coronavirus by pumping hot air into a patient's lungs for hours, while another author wrote about unproven reports about the artificial production of COVID-19 in laboratories.

Arguing for quality over quantity he said: “These people hope that their article will pass through the weaker filter of quick review. 

“If we can see irregularities in the most prestigious journals, what is the situation in the less reputable ones?” 

Although in the early stages of the epidemic, the "fast track" of publishing articles about coronavirus was justified as it facilitated the flow of scarce information about the new virus, clinical symptoms of COVID-19, and accelerated the development of critically important research and drug search, Rzymski said that now that the basic information is already known, we should return to the standard mode of publishing research.

The commentary is available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1567576920319251. (PAP)

author: Szymon Zdziebłowski

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