Wiley closes 19 scientific journals due to AI paper mill issues

US publishing house Wiley this week shut down nineteen scientific journals overseen by its Hindawi subsidiary, at the center of a long-running scientific publishing scandal.

In December 2023, Wiley announced that it would stop using the Hindawi brand acquired in 2021, following the decision in May 2023 to close four of its magazines “to combat the systematic manipulation of the publishing process”.

Hindawi’s magazines were found to publish articles from paper mills – organizations or groups of individuals that seek to undermine the academic publishing process for financial gain. Over the past two years, a Wiley spokesperson said The registerthe publisher has withdrawn more than 11,300 articles from its Hindawi portfolio.

As detailed in a Wiley-authored white paper published last December, “Tackling publication manipulation at scale: Hindawi’s journey and lessons for academic publishing,” paper mills rely on several unethical practices – such as the use of AI in manuscript production and image manipulation. and gaming the peer review process.

The Hindawi affair coincided with the departure of Wiley president and CEO Brian Napack in October 2023. In the second quarter 2024 earnings report [PDF] Last December, Wiley admitted that the $18 million decline in research publishing revenue was “primarily due to the disruption of Hindawi publishing.”

In January, Wiley signed with United2Act – an industry initiative to combat paper mills.

But concerns about the integrity of scientific research are not limited to Wiley’s publications. A study published in Nature last July found that as many as a quarter of clinical trials are problematic or completely fabricated.

The increasing availability and sophistication of generative AI isn’t the only factor contributing to the academic publishing crisis, but AI tools are making faking easier.

“The industry recognizes that AI is being used by paper mills to generate fraudulent content,” Wiley’s spokesperson told us. “We recently introduced a new screening technology that helps identify articles with potential misuse of generative AI before the time of publication.”

According to a preprint paper published in February, the number of papers submitted to ArXiv increased significantly in the top three categories between 2019 and 2023 – a period that roughly coincides with the debut of tools like ChatGPT. The number of computer science articles increased by 200 percent in these four years, followed by physics articles (45 percent) and mathematics (22 percent).

However, academic publishers seem to want the benefits of AI writing assistance without the drawbacks. Springer Nature, for example, last October launched Curie – an AI-powered writing assistant aimed at helping scientists whose native language is not English. That is why there is a need for better instruments [PDF] to detect generative AI output – a call answered by recent efforts to improve the watermarking of AI content – ​​which some researchers claim won’t work.

A spokesperson for Wiley characterized the decision to close the 19 magazines as part of the previously announced plan to integrate the Hindawi and Wiley portfolios, and separate from the paper mill issue.

“As part of this integration, and as usual, we reviewed our magazine portfolio and decided to close 19 Hindawi magazines that no longer serve their communities,” the spokesperson said. The register.

“It is important to distinguish between the journal closures taking place now as part of our portfolio integration and the four journal closures that closed in May 2023. The magazines closed in May 2023 were so badly affected by paper mills that they were in the best of conditions. interest of the scientific community to stop them immediately.”

Meanwhile, in Wiley’s third-quarter 2024 earnings report, the publisher noted that revenues for its learning division are expected to be at the higher end of forecasts due to “content rights deals in the fourth quarter for training AI models.” ®

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