Evaluation of three Articles from 2009 to 2012 about SCIRP and Their Entry into Wikipedia

How SCIRP’s Page on Wikipedia Got Started

The entry for Scientific Research Publishing on Wikipedia was started on 2010-09-27 inspired by a Nature news article.

SANDERSON, Katharine, 2010-01-13. Two new journals copy the old. In: Nature 463, 148. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/463148a.

From the beginning of SCIRP’s article on Wikipedia the intention of influential Wikipedia editors was to report about controversies and to put maximum blame on SCIRP. This one sided reporting is especially malicious in an encyclopedia regarded as neutral by readers. This wicked intent was observed by one casual editor, but the warning he/she placed on the page (see Figure 1) did not stay there for long.

wikipedia
Fig. 1: The notice on SCIRP’s Wikipedia article stayed there for only as long as 1 hour and 59 minutes – not much time allowed resolving the dispute.

On 2013-03-01 the text on Wikipedia reporting about the oldest controversy was this:

The company created controversy in 2010 when it was found that its journals duplicated papers which had already been published elsewhere, without notification of or permission from the original author.(Abraham 2009) Several of these publications have subsequently been retracted.(Oransky 2012) In addition, some of these journals had listed academics on their editorial boards without their permission or even knowledge, sometimes in fields very different from their own. A spokesperson for the company commented that these issues had been “information-technology mistakes”, which would be corrected.(Sanderson 2010)

Up to 2015-01-13 the same text on Wikipedia did not change much:

Scientific Research Publishing generated controversy in 2010 when it was found that its journals duplicated papers which had already been published elsewhere, without notification of or permission from the original author and of the copyright holder.(Abraham 2009) Several of these publications have subsequently been retracted.(Oransky 2012) Some of the journals had listed academics on their editorial boards without their permission or even knowledge, sometimes in fields very different from their own.(Sanderson 2010)

One important change, however, the last sentence from 2013-03-01 “A spokesperson for the company …” that gave SCIRP’s view of the story was dropped by influential Wikipedia editors.

One other reference in this text from Wikipedia is:

ABRAHAMS, Marc, 2009-12-22: Strange academic journals: Scam?. Improbable Research. Blog. Available from: http://www.improbable.com/2009/12/22/strangest-academic-journals

Sanderson (2010) and Abrahams (2009) report about the same or similar events. The third reference (Oransky 2012) however, reports about a different event and does not really fit into the context here. This third reference in the text from Wikipedia is:

ORANSKY, Ivan, 2012-05-25. Three more retractions for Vietnamese physicists who plagiarized a plagiarized paper. Retraction Watch. Blog. Available from: http://retractionwatch.wordpress.com/category/by-publisher/scientific-research-publishing

 

Remarks to the Paragraph on Wikipedia and Its References

1. Remark: The three references are not really placed at the right position. The controversy of 2010 is reported in (Sanderson 2010) – not as indicated by (Abraham 2009). None of the references state „without notification of or permission … of the copyright holder“, however it is clear the permission was not obtained by SCIRP. Noteworthy, Wikipedia added facts not covered by the references.

2. Remark: Also incorrect in Wikipedia is the sentence „several of these publications have subsequently been retracted“ with reference to (Oransky 2012). It is a wrong quote for the fact. It is not a retraction of copied papers (these got deleted immediately by SCIRP). Oransky (2012) reports about three retractions at SCIRP (in NS, NS, and JMP). With these retractions plagiarized papers by Le Duc Thong and his colleagues had been sanctioned correctly by SCIRP. In the same way as it was done by four other publishers (Oransky 2012-05-18):

  • Elsevier
  • IOP Publishing
  • Springer
  • The Institute of Pure and Applied Physics (IPAP)

who each retracted one paper of the authors for the same reason. Springer should have retracted a second paper by Le Duc Thong with almost the same title as the one initially published and later retracted by SCIRP, but Springer failed to retract this paper up to the present day.

3. Remark: With respect to “Two new journals copy the old” Sanderson (2010) reports about the first issues of two new journals journals “Journal of Modern Physics” and “Psychology”: “Huai-Bei Zhou … says that the reproductions were a mistake caused by posting sample content for the new journals; links to the content have since been removed.” This means the problem was already solved before Nature’s article went to press. This is concealed in Wikipedia article.

4. Remark: With respect to listing of academics on editorial boards Sanderson (2010) writes: “Some academics have also questioned how they came to be added to online lists of advisory board members for various Scientific Research journals. For instance, Thomas Schiano … Schiano’s name has since been removed. So have other researchers once listed as editorial board members” “Zhou says that Scientific Research has e-mails from each scientist listed on the website agreeing to the position. Some of them say they thought they had agreed to be on the board of more established journals. ‘Because of my crazily busy schedule at that time, I did not carefully read their information and mistakenly thought that it was the Journal of Biological Chemistry,’ says Kim.”

After this event SCIRP switched from e-mail confirmation to appointment letters that have to be signed by future board members. In this way researcher can not later deny their original intention to join a board. This is also explained on About SCIRP: “SCIRP uses Appointment Letters for Editorial Board members already since 2010.” Current Appointment Letters are given as PDF on About SCIRP.

There is a big difference between the two situations:

  1. a) Zhou describes: An academic is put on an editorial board based on an e-mail, but finds himself/herself on a board he/she does not want to be and is removed on request immediately.
  2. b) Wikipedia writes: “journals had listed academics on their editorial boards without their permission”.

This shows how Wikipedia is distorting the truth because the same influential Wikipedia editors who started the page with the intention to stigmatize SCIRP are still in the majority deciding about the fate of SCIRP’s page on the English Wikipedia.

5. Remark: Abrahams (2009) reports about the problem with the first issue of the journal Psychology. This is the same incident as discussed by Sanderson (2010) – see Remark 3. Today, it is unbelievable how naive SCIRP acted when it started. At least the mess got cleaned up immediately.

6. Remark: Abrahams further: “On the organization’s web site, we found barely any identifying or location information. The contact page (http://www.scirp.org/AboutUs) says “Name: Scientific Research Publishing, Inc. USA” and lists an email address – but we have not found any such corporation in the USA”. True is, the About SCIRP page has grown substantially since 2009 in the same way as the dramatic increase of the number of papers published by SCIRP. Possible also that Abrahams did not investigate carefully enough otherwise he should have found SCIRP’s registration in Delaware. The state that handles most registrations of corporations in the USA and never made a secret of the companies incorporated there.

 

Further Reference

ORANSKY, Ivan, 2012-05-18. Astrophysics retraction trail includes paper that plagiarized another already retracted for…plagiarism. Retraction Watch. Blog. Available from:
http://retractionwatch.com/2012/05/18/astrophysics-retraction-trail-includes-paper-that-plagiarized-another-already-retracted-for-plagiarism

About scirp

(SCIRP: http://www.scirp.org) is an academic publisher of open access journals. It also publishes academic books and conference proceedings. SCIRP currently has more than 200 open access journals in the areas of science, technology and medicine. Readers can download papers for free and enjoy reuse rights based on a Creative Commons license. Authors hold copyright with no restrictions. SCIRP calculates different metrics on article and journal level. Citations of published papers are shown based on Google Scholar and CrossRef. Most of our journals have been indexed by several world class databases. All papers are archived by PORTICO to guarantee their availability for centuries to come.
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