How & Why Are Journal Authors Faking Co-Authors on Research Papers?
Among the many schemes that continue to plague the world of scientific research and publishing is the practice of faking co-authors on research papers. Although it may seem counterproductive to give authorship credit away when the goal of those who do so is usually prestigious publication, there are seemingly logical reasons why the benefits of faking co-authors could outweigh the risks for those researchers willing to game the scholarly publishing system. I explain here how this new form of plagiarism is achieved and why some researchers might choose to pursue such an unwise course of action.

Faking co-authors on research papers takes different forms. In some cases the names of prestigious scientists who have not contributed to the paper and may not even know about it are used along with their institutional affiliations, but fake email addresses are provided, sometimes with only minor changes from the real institutional email addresses of the scholars whose names have been borrowed. In other instances the names of co-authors are entirely fictional, but these nonexistent researchers will be affiliated by the fraudsters with prestigious institutions, and again inauthentic email addresses will be used. In all cases the email addresses belong to the perpetrators of the misconduct, who are therefore able to manage the correspondence from journal editors that otherwise might reveal the scam to honest researchers. The risk is significant, as getting caught can mean a cessation of funding, dismissal from employment, expulsion from an educational programme, and the loss of professional respect and career potential as well as retraction of the publications attained using the fraudulent information.

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