I don't know if bad academic conduct in scholarly publishing is increasing, or if I just notice it more often now that I have an active Twitter presence… but it's seriously annoying to see the accumulation of issues in published papers. And because I don't like it, and I think it's everyone's responsibility to act to prevent it (including me), I end up spending time to write to editors, etc. Time that could be used for other stuff, like, I don't know… my own research!

Recent examples that annoy me significantly:

  • TEM images with worrying signs of manipulation (and that's using very cautious language for something that looks clear-cut) in 4 papers by the same authors… including 3 papers in a journal where the author is also an editor.

  • Plagiarism accidents where, after 10 months of careful consideration, the editor decides it was “not intentional”. Like, you were cleaning your keyboard, and repeatedly pressed copy-change window-paste by accident? (Full story over there)
  • A paper with (in my view) unwarranted citations to my work, on an unrelated topic. I wrote to the editor to report it, and posted my concerns on Twitter, and the editor told me they didn't like that. Also, they decided that it was OK for the authors to cite me since “ they have put some thought into their selection”, and it was up to cite to cite whomever they wanted. Turns out, commenters on PubPeer later found other issues with that paper, including figures/tables duplication with other papers (which are, though, on different topics). I wrote again to the editors, but I am not holding my breath: too many seem to like the old-school, closed-door, nothing-to-see-here conduct.

Gaming intermission: spot the differences between the tables from this 2012 paper

and from this 2015 paper

I'm tired of this. Just how common really is academic misconduct in chemistry publications?