By Aja Romano at The Daily Dot
It's no secret that you can fake just about everything on the Internet: fake job references, fake news, fake audiences, fake academic credentials, and fake science.
But what happens when academic journals which distribute important research from the world's universities begin to be subject to these same kinds of fake influences?
That's the question researchers and scholarly editors are grappling with thanks to a run of fake peer reviews that have proliferated in academia recently, leading to a whopping 250 retractions over the last three years, according to the noted academia watchdog site Retraction Watch.
At the center of the retractions appears to be a system of peer-review "rings" in which researchers and people posing as researchers agree to review one another's papers.
The presence of fake entities and faked research is nothing new to academia, but in recent years, in conjunction with the rise of open-access scholarship, reports of fraudulent research have been gaining more and more attention. In 2011, the news that a Dutch psychologist had spent years fabricating his research made international headlines. Last year a study related to gay marriage made the rounds on news sites, only to be revealed this spring as a complete fabrication. Also last year, the International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology (IJACT) attempted to publish a fake paper, created years earlier as a joke, comprised entirely of obscenities. By attempting to publish the paper as a legitimate work of research, the journal outed itself as a scam.