Many years ago, I created a fake Yahoo email address in order to play a practical joke on a colleague. While it was all in good fun then, many journals are now finding the prank is on them. Authors, and in some cases editors, found a way to circumvent the traditional peer-review system by supplying fake email addresses for recommended reviewers, allowing them to review the paper themselves. Not surprisingly, these “reviewers” returned glowing evaluations in record time. A spate of retractions highlights the problem of fake “reviewers” that has plagued the scientific peer-review system: http://retractionwatch.com/2015/08/19/17-retractions-from-sage-journals-bring-total-fake-peer-review-count-to-250/
The disturbing issue of review falsification was further emphasized in a recent commentary published in the New England Journal of Medicine (http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1512330 ).
Fraudulent peer-review, whether perpetrated by authors, editors or journals, undermines the hard work of the scientific community and tarnishes the reputation of the entire biomedical research enterprise in the eyes of the public. The Editors at AJP-Lung are committed to providing peer review of the highest quality. When selecting reviewers for manuscripts, we utilize a series of safeguards to ensure the validity of the process. Editors assign reviewers from: 1) their own wide network of colleagues within the field; 2) the Editorial Board, members of which undergo rigorous vetting by the Editors and journal staff prior to appointment; and 3) the large APS reviewer database, which provides verified contact information as well as links to each reviewer’s publications. In cases where authors recommend reviewers that are not already known to the editor, the recommended reviewer is carefully scrutinized before being added to the potential reviewer list, typically involving verification of institution and email address and a Pubmed search to guarantee appropriate expertise and prevent conflict of interest.
Fair peer review requires trust on the part of all involved parties. At AJP-Lung, we promise to remain vigilant in securing the most qualified reviewers for your manuscripts.
-Larissa Shimoda, Associate Editor
-Wolfgang Kuebler, Associate Editor