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Taylor & Francis Welcomes the Launch of STM’s Paper Mill Detection Tool

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Joint Initiative by Academic Publishers is a Significant Step Forward in Protecting Research Integrity and Publishing Ethics.

A sophisticated new tool has been developed to tackle one of the biggest challenges to the integrity of published research: paper mills. Supported by Taylor & Francis and a range of scholarly publishers, STM’s new Paper Mill Detection Tool will scan journal manuscripts for indications of potential misconduct.

Paper mills are defined by STM and the Committee on Publication Ethics as, “the process by which manufactured manuscripts are submitted to a journal for a fee on behalf of researchers with the purpose of providing an easy publication for them, or to offer authorship for sale”. Not only can paper mill articles pollute the scholarly record with a range of integrity issues, including duplicate submission and image manipulation, they ultimately risk undermining trust in the genuine research they are published alongside.

Paper mills continually evolve, and over recent years have been growing in number and sophistication. However, there is a range of characteristics that may indicate a research article is the product of a paper mill. The Paper Mill Detection Tool uses innovative internally-developed and third-party technology, combined with shared intelligence and data, to spot these signals and identify submissions that require further investigation and possible action.

The MVP (minimum viable product) of the Paper Mill Detection Tool is part of STM’s Integrity Hub, a collective initiative of academic publishers to safeguard the integrity of research. The Hub takes a holistic approach to detect manuscripts that breach research integrity through a combination of shared data, experiences and technology.

Dr Sabina Alam, Director of Publishing Ethics and Integrity at Taylor & Francis, said: “Taylor & Francis is committed to combatting all unethical publishing practices. In the last year alone, we’ve doubled the size of our publishing ethics and integrity team, invested in new technology, and delivered publishing ethics training to more than 40,000 researchers. Paper mills make up about half of our ethics cases, and we are continually improving our systems and processes to detect and deal with paper mill articles more quickly.”

Alam added: “Of course, paper mills target the journals of every publisher in every discipline, so tackling the problem effectively also requires coordination across our industry. We’ve therefore been enthusiastic participants in STM’s Integrity Hub project and part of its paper mills and image manipulation working groups. We were able to test earlier prototypes of the Paper Mill Detection Tool and have high expectations for the impact of integrating this MVP and later iterations into our processes”.