Wiley Shuts 19 Scholarly Journals Amid AI Paper Mill Problems

Wiley Shuts 19 Scholarly Journals Amid AI Paper Mill Problems | Future Education Magazine


US publishing house Wiley announced this week the discontinuation of 19 scientific journals managed by its Hindawi subsidiary, marking a significant move in response to a long-standing scholarly journals publishing scandal. Wiley’s decision to cease the use of the Hindawi brand, acquired in 2021, came after a series of unsettling revelations. In May 2023, the company shuttered four journals as part of efforts to combat what it termed “systematic manipulation of the publishing process.” This manipulation primarily stemmed from the publication of papers originating from paper mills, organizations exploiting academic publishing for financial gain. Over the past two years, Wiley has retracted more than 11,300 papers from its Hindawi portfolio, underlining the severity of the situation.

The Role of AI in Publication Manipulation 

The proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI) has exacerbated the challenges facing scholarly journals publishing integrity. A Wiley-authored white paper released in December detailed the methods employed by paper mills, which include leveraging AI for manuscript fabrication, image manipulations, and gaming the peer review process. Notably, Wiley’s woes coincided with the departure of its president and CEO Brian Napack in October 2023, signaling the gravity of the situation.

Financially, the Hindawi scandal took a toll on Wiley, with an $18 million decline in research publishing revenue reported in its fiscal Q2 2024 earnings report. Acknowledging the gravity of the situation, Wiley joined United2Act, an industry initiative aimed at combating paper mills. Wiley also introduced new screening technology to identify papers potentially misusing generative AI before publication, underscoring the industry’s efforts to tackle the issue head-on.

A Broader Crisis in Scholarly Integrity 

While Wiley’s Hindawi scandal highlights significant challenges within the publishing realm, concerns over research integrity extend beyond its publications. A study published in Nature in July revealed troubling findings, suggesting that up to a quarter of clinical trials may be problematic or entirely fabricated. The rise of generative AI tools has compounded these challenges, making fraudulent content generation more accessible.

Tools like ChatGPT, which debuted during a period of increased submission volume to platforms like ArXiv, have facilitated a surge in submissions, particularly in computer science, physics, and mathematics categories. These developments underscore the urgent need for comprehensive strategies to safeguard scholarly publishing from manipulation and ensure the integrity of academic research.

By addressing the Hindawi scandal and its implications for scholarly journal publishing, Wiley’s actions reflect a broader industry response to the challenges posed by paper mills and AI-driven manipulation. However, the road ahead necessitates sustained efforts from stakeholders across the academic community to uphold the fundamental principles of research integrity and ensure the credibility of scholarly output in an increasingly complex digital landscape.

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