We are pleased to announce that Wiley have endorsed the United2Act initiative, which represents a multi-stakeholder strategy dedicated to addressing the issue of paper mills and systematic manipulation at play in research and scholarly publishing.
This initiative recognizes several challenges to research integrity that require coordination across the research and publishing ecosystem, acknowledging that all stakeholders play specific roles, and that we will be most effective by working together. At its heart is a commitment to collaboration and bringing together the expertise to act on a coordinated strategy that addresses this pressing challenge at all points in the research and publishing lifecycle.
The work of United2Act was instigated through the combined leadership of the STM Association and the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) at the United2Act Summit in 2023. The outcome of that Summit is represented through stakeholder endorsement of a Consensus Statement and a commitment to work together on five key areas of focus:
Education and awareness
To develop and create new educational resources and to promote education and awareness activities to make researchers, journals editors, reviewers, journals, and publishers aware of the problem of paper mills.
Improve post-publication corrections
To investigate and agree ways to improve communication with those who report misconduct to journals, and agree ways in which the correction of the literature can be expedited once misconduct has been discovered.
To research paper mills
To work collaboratively with interested parties to facilitate and organise research on paper mills, with particular attention paid to the regional and subject specific aspects of paper mills.
Enable the development of trust markers
To work with the various suppliers who are developing tools which verify the identity of authors/reviewers/editors to ensure that the solutions work for the variety of authors and author choice, and are fit for purpose.
Continue to facilitate dialogue between stakeholders about the systematic manipulation of the publication process.
Continue to bring together the many voices and stakeholders in this area through joint projects and initiatives to combat the issue of paper mills.
Wiley will support and advance these actions through our Working Group engagement and leadership as well as a commitment to apply what we learn together to our own publishing processes and strategy. We believe that transparency and openness about these challenges is critical to finding solutions; we have detailed our own approach to addressing systematic manipulation at scale in the following whitepaper, published in December 2023: “Tackling publication manipulation at scale: Hindawi’s journey and lessons for academic publishing”. In publishing this whitepaper, we provide context on the multiple routes to systematic manipulation, including paper mills, authorship for sale, and the coordinated manipulation of the peer review process.
The United2Act initiative is a significant step forward in this journey; it provides a framework for the scholarly community to come together to promote transparency, integrity, and resilience in the face of these evolving challenges. At Wiley, we look forward to bringing our expertise, experience, and leadership to this important work.
This blog post is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). Illustration adapted by Sam Jennings from United2Act.