The Publications Ethics Committee (COPE) and the STM publish a research report on stationery

From a blog post by the Committee on Publication Ethics:

COPE and the STM have undertaken a study with Maverick Publishing Services, using publisher data, to understand the scale of the stationery problem. The study also involved interviews with stakeholders – researchers, publishers and Retraction Watch.

All stakeholders believe that the issue of paper mills is a real threat to the integrity of the scientific record. A collective effort is needed because publishers are convinced that they cannot solve this problem alone. A joint effort of publishers, funders and research institutions is needed.


Key points

  • Paper mills are the process by which fabricated manuscripts are submitted to a journal for a fee on behalf of researchers for the purpose of providing them with easy publication or offering authorship for sale.
  • There is pressure to publish for researchers and for some it is necessary to advance their careers, and in some countries the use of these services is perceived as less unacceptable.
  • Fake articles are identified both during the submission process and after publication.
  • There are metrics, usually a combination of factors, that the editorial team can monitor during the submission process.
  • Tools and processes are increasingly used to identify paper mills.
  • Once publication issues have been raised by readers and after investigation, which may take some time, articles will be removed.
  • Research Integrity Teams remove several bogus published articles.
  • The submission of alleged false research papers, often associated with false authorship, is on the rise.

Recommended actions

  • A major education exercise is needed to ensure that editors are aware of the stationery problem and that editors/editorial staff are trained in identifying fake newspapers.
  • Continued investment in tools and systems to detect suspicious documents as they are submitted.
  • Engagement with institutions and funders to examine incentives for researchers to publish valid articles and not to use services that will result in rapid but false publication.
  • Investigate protocols that can be put in place to prevent paper mills from achieving their goals.
  • Review the retraction process to take into account the unique characteristics of papermaking papers.
  • Research how to ensure retraction notices are applied to all copies of a document, such as preprint servers and article repositories.

Learn more: Read full article, access additional resources

Full text direct research paper
16 pages; PDF.

Filed Under: Companies (Publishers/Vendors), Data Files, Journal Articles, News, Open Access, Publishing

About Gary Price

Gary Price ([email protected]) is a librarian, writer, consultant and frequent speaker based in the Washington DC metro area. Prior to starting INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and editors of ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006 to 2009, he was director of online news services at and is currently an editor at Search Engine Land.

Jacob L. Thornton