On April 20, Springer Nature, a Germany publishing company, released a claim about the decision of removing 107 academic papers written by Chinese writers on Tumor Biology. The claim said that these papers were involved in submitting forged peer reviews. The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) claimed that the violated process was suspected to be provided by a third party organization who offered such service.
Tumor Biology is the official journal of International Society of Oncology and Bio Markers. It was transitioned from Springer Nature of Germany to SAGE Publications in January 2017.
Beijing Youth Daily reporters found that the 107 papers were written by doctors in University affiliated hospitals in different cities in China, including Zhejiang University Affiliated Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University Affiliated Hospital, Shandong University Affiliated Jinan Central Hospital and Xiangya Hospital Central South University.
Reporters contacted a few of the writers. Zhang Zefeng, thoracic surgeon and deputy director at Fourth Hospital of Hebei Medical University, admitted that he published an article on Tumor Biology. But Zhang said that he only participated in the research part and he knew nothing about publishing the paper. Liu Junfeng, another doctor at the same hospital denied the interview.
Insiders said that the names of the judges were real because the magazine used to see these judges who are professions in the industry. However, the email addresses shown on the papers were not the same as the record, which made Tumor Biology suspect the email addresses were faked.
A doctor who refused to be named told reporters that most doctors don’t take the risk asking a third party to deal with academic papers. Any problem can lead to the termination of the career. The doctor said that most doctors follow the legal steps to publish on international periodicals.