More than 800 Russian academic articles retracted after "bombshell" report reveals plagiarism and other misconduct

After Antiplagiat, a private plagiarism detection company, accused Russia's scientific and scholarly journals of being rife with plagiarism, self-plagiarism, duplication and other misconduct, the Russian Academy of Sciences chartered a committee to investigate the problem: their report confirmed the accusations, finding more instances of plagiarism/self-plagiarism, as well as instances in which the same paper was published in different journals under different authors' names.

The committee called for 2528 papers to be retracted from 541 journals. Only some of the journals have fully cooperated; many have refused to retract some of the papers, and eight have refused to take any action.

Russia has a distinct scientific/scholarly norm of preferentially publishing in domestic journals (other countries' academics are more likely to publish in international journals), and the scandal has rocked Russia's research community.

Eight journals explicitly refused to address the problems; the report urges that five of them be removed from the Russian Science Citation Index, a database run by eLibrary. (Because publication in indexed journals is often a prerequisite for promotions and funding in Russia, delisted journals are thought to be less attractive to authors.) Victor Glukhov, eLibrary’s deputy director, says the group’s own expert council will look into the matter, but is likely to agree. Zayakin emphasizes that the exercise is a work in progress; he hopes the threat of being delisted will persuade journals that haven’t yet responded—or have refused to pull papers on flimsy grounds—to take the commission’s findings seriously.

The same RAS commission caused a stir in September 2019, when it recommended not voting for 56 candidates—out of a total of more than 1800—during the academy’s membership elections, because of their alleged involvement in plagiarism and other types of misbehavior. That “caused a lot of tension over how the commission is organized and who pulls the strings in it,” says Dmitry Malkov, a science communication scholar at ITMO University in St. Petersburg. (The academy had about 200 new memberships available; only a few of the 56 were elected.)

Russian journals retract more than 800 papers after ‘bombshell’ investigation [Dalmeet Singh Chawla/Science]

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