Tumor Biology, a Springer journal, retracted 107 articles in a single notice Thursday.
The supposedly peer-reviewed papers did not appropriately go through the peer-review process, the publisher and editor of the paper writes in a terse note accompanying the list of discredited studies.
“After a thorough investigation we have strong reason to believe that the peer review process was compromised,” they write.
The papers are predominantly authored by scientists from China, and were published from 2012 up until last year.
The subjects span from the impacts of smoking on cancer, to gene-specific effects on tumors. The variety of cancers spans the gamut, from the gastric system to bones, the prostate, lung, liver and other tumors.
The site Sixth Tone first reported on the massive retraction. One of Springer’s editorial directors told the Chinese media outlet that the studies had been submitted with suggestions from reviewers with real names – but with fabricated email addresses. Follow-up determined that the real scientists were never contacted to review their peers’ work, according to the report.
Springer is not the first major publisher to discover widespread peer review problems prompting mass retractions. BioMed Central retracted 43 papers in one action in November 2014, and Hindawi Publishing Corporation announced in 2015 that three editors had “subverted” the entire editorial process in publishing 32 papers.