Exclusive: Hindawi and Wiley to retract over 500 papers linked to peer review rings

After months of investigation that identified networks of reviewers and editors manipulating the peer review process, Hindawi plans to retract 511 papers across 16 journals, Retraction Watch has learned.

The retractions, which the publisher and its parent company, Wiley, will announce tomorrow in a blog post, will be issued in the next month, and more may come as its investigation continues. They are not yet making the list available.

Hindawi’s research integrity team found several signs of manipulated peer reviews for the affected papers, including reviews that contained duplicated text, a few individuals who did a lot of reviews, reviewers who turned in their reviews extremely quickly, and misuse of databases that publishers use to vet potential reviewers.

Richard Bennett, vice president of researcher and publishing services for Hindawi, told us that the publisher suspects “coordinated peer review rings” consisting of reviewers and editors working together to advance manuscripts through to publication. Some of the manuscripts appeared to come from paper mills, he said.

We asked what prompted the investigation. Bennett told us:

In April 2022, Hindawi’s Research Integrity team led an initial investigation into a single Special Issue (SI) after a Chief Editor raised concerns about some of the papers published in it. The team decided to investigate the content of the journal further. Through this investigation, the team highlighted a pattern of irregular and concerning reviewer activity and identified potential ‘bad actors’ that were present across many of these publications.