From Josh Fischman's Sept. 30 article in The Chronicle of Higher Education:
In incidents involving four scientists--the latest case coming to light two weeks ago--journal editors say authors got to critique their own papers by suggesting reviewers with contact e-mails that actually went to themselves.
The glowing endorsements got the work into Experimental Parasitology, Pharmaceutical Biology, and several other journals. Fake reviews even got a pair of mathematics articles into journals published by Elsevier, the academic publishing giant, which has a system in place intended to thwart such misconduct. The frauds have produced retractions of about 30 papers to date.
Anyone can open a Gmail or similar account under a name that isn't his or her own, as long as that name hasn't been taken by another user. For instance, Haroldvarmus@gmail.com was available last week, but e-mail sent there will not reach Mr. Varmus, the Nobel Prize-winning virologist and director of the National Cancer Institute.
The medicinal-chemistry journal has now changed its policy to require that every paper have two reviewers not suggested by an author.
On the journal side, editors are handling more submissions than ever--Mr. Supuran said he and three other editors work on 500 to 600 papers each year, about 20 percent more than when he started--and due diligence can be a casualty. When swamped, said Lance W. Small, a member of the ethics committee and a professor emeritus of mathematics at the University of California at San Diego, "editors may cut corners."