Table of Contents  
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 511

The Asian Journal of Andrology's audit to detect fake reviewing: trust … but check


Date of Web Publication28-Jul-2017

Correspondence Address:
Trevor G Cooper

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/aja.aja_31_17

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How to cite this article:
Wang YF, Handelsman D, Cooper TG. The Asian Journal of Andrology's audit to detect fake reviewing: trust … but check. Asian J Androl 2017;19:511

How to cite this URL:
Wang YF, Handelsman D, Cooper TG. The Asian Journal of Andrology's audit to detect fake reviewing: trust … but check. Asian J Androl [serial online] 2017 [cited 2022 Dec 4];19:511. Available from:

Biomedical research and scientific publishing of its results will always remain founded on trust in the honesty and integrity of investigators and reviewers. Overwhelmingly, the motivation of researchers is to advance knowledge in their field through reporting of genuine and reproducible findings. Publishing their research findings is the culmination of invested effort and imagination and, when achieved, creates notable waymarks and earned accolades along a researcher's personal scientific career. But, just as in elite sports or financial systems, human nature dictates that there will always be a small minority tempted to cheat the system, to succumb to ulterior motives that drive attempts at unfair advancement, and to the temptation of deceitful shortcuts and amoral chicanery. The peer-review system is the bedrock of integrity for any scientific journal that aspires to the highest standards. Corruption of the peer review system is a frontal assault that threatens the integrity of the biomedical research enterprise as a whole. There can hardly be a worse undermining of confidence of the community, which supports and believes in the integrity and value of science and its research foundations. So we are bound to trust investigator and reviewers but equally, according to the Russian proverb, we are obliged to trust … but also check.

Over recent years there has arisen an alarming concern among scientific journals about the existence of scams using fake reviews to facilitate publications. These fake reviews can come from either the author, or a confederate, posing as an expert in the field and using a phony e-mail address, typically owned by the author or his associate and using generic-like Gmail or Hotmail-rather than institutional e-mail addresses, supplied along with the submitted manuscript. The scams come in a variety of formats but all depend on the substitution of phony e-mail addresses for those of highly regarded experts in the relevant field.[1],[2]

In view of this, and to address our concern as well as that of our readers, the Asian Journal of Andrology (AJA) has conducted a rigorous review of its peer review process for the year 2016 with a focus on potential fake reviews/reviewers. For this, the Editorial Office evaluated all peer reviewers for papers published and rejected in 2016.

  1. AJA published 192 papers in 2016, and 290 experts from 44 countries served as peer reviewers. Most of them were from Europe (43%) and North America (29%)
  2. Of the 290 reviewers, 195 reviewers used institutional e-mail addresses, the remaining 95 reviewers used noninstitutional e-mail addresses. The 95 noninstitutional addresses were checked individually by using them to search for publications in which they were listed as corresponding e-mail address. In this way at least one publication for each reviewer was found, indicating that the e-mail address was a legitimate identifier for that reviewer
  3. In keeping with its usual processes, in 2016 the editorial office did not choose any reviewers recommended by authors; all reviewers were selected by the AJA editors.

For authors involved in the retracted publications owing to a fake peer review process released by Springer recently, we checked their publications in AJA for the last three years, particularly evaluating the peer-review process including reviewer's comments and the e-mail addresses of those reviewers.

  1. A total of seven authors related to the retractions were identified as AJA authors, and they had 18 publications in AJA from 2014 to 2016
  2. All reviewers for the 18 publications were selected by the AJA editors solely on the basis of evaluating the expert's research field, research achievements and activities. No reviewers recommended by authors were chosen.

In summary, the investigation showed that peer review in AJA for 2016 was not affected by the fake review/reviewers scam. This review has reaffirmed our confidence in the integrity of the AJA's peer review process, and encourages the journal and its staff to continue to maintain the highest standards of peer review for manuscripts submitted to AJA. In 2016 AJA's SCI Impact Factor (2.996) and Eigenfactor Score (0.00640) have the highest bibliometric ratings in Andrology. We trust this review will continue to foster confidence from the Andrology community in the AJA's sustainability in publishing timely, innovative and excellent papers subject to un-impeached peer review.

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