(6 Apr 2022) Abalkina, a sociologist at the Free University of Berlin, has documented what appears to be a flourishing business on the site, www.123mi.ru. Since it debuted in December 2018, she has analyzed more than 1000 advertisements posted there and found at least 419 that appeared to match manuscripts that later appeared in dozens of different journals, she reported in a preprint posted on arXiv in March.
More than 100 of these identified papers were published in 68 journals run by established publishers, including Elsevier, Oxford University Press, Springer Nature, Taylor & Francis, Wolters Kluwer, and Wiley-Blackwell, although most of these were specialized publications. Russian authors outnumbered any other nationality on the website’s tally of recent contracts.
Run by International Publisher LLC, the site is one of many illicit “paper mills” that leaders in scientific publishing worry are increasingly corrupting the literature by selling bogus authorship or prewritten papers. But its scale and brazenness are unusual, as are the insights Abalkina has gleaned into its workings.
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