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[ RESEARCH INTEGRITY ] January 17, 2024

Tackling the paper mill proliferation

Academia is currently witnessing a concerning trend with the rise of paper mills. Explore how Morressier is taking proactive measures to counteract this issue.

What are paper mills?

Paper mills engage in the production and selling of fake manuscripts, often featuring manipulated data and ghostwritten content, all in the name of generating profit. When these fraudulent papers find their way into reputable journals, they not only consume the valuable time and resources of peer reviewers and editors but also tarnish the credibility of genuine research. This is particularly concerning given the erosion of public trust in science, with only 29% of U.S. adults expressing a high level of confidence in medical scientists acting in the public's best interests as of 2022.

But, the consequences extend beyond the academic world, also posing a threat to the financial health of journals. Decreased trust in science results in reduced subscriptions and readership, directly impacting the revenue streams of these publications.

Paper mills are not merely harmless scams, they have the potential to disrupt the entire academic publishing process. 

So, how can we confront paper mills and uncover the research generated by these entities before it’s too late?


The dark rise of sham papers

Paper mills present challenges for publishers, as they not only churn out fabricated research but also target desperate researchers by selling counterfeit manuscripts. In the academic world, the longstanding "publish-or-perish" mantra has driven scholars to not waste time in documenting their innovative ideas for timely dissemination. However, at its worst, this pressure can lead authors to academic shortcuts, fraud, misconduct, and even resorting to paper mills to artificially boost publication counts when time is tight. For instance, in China, physicians facing publication quotas for promotions may turn to paper mills to meet these requirements.

The paper mill phenomenon is not going away on its own,  with approximately one in five articles in journals potentially containing falsified data from paper mills commissioned to fabricate scientific submissions, according to a study led by German researchers.

With the surge of deceptive papers reaching its peak in 2022, the year 2023 marked a historic high in retractions, underscoring the escalation of fraudulent practices in academic publishing.


Elevating standards of detection in paper mill fraud

At Morressier, our commitment to maintaining the highest standards of integrity extends to every element of our platform. Considering the serious implications of the paper mill crisis, we recognize the challenge of discerning deceptive content disguised as legitimate research, especially with the human eye alone.

In response to this pressing issue, we are proud to announce our collaboration with Clear Skies. Clear Skies' Papermill Alarm: Public stands as the world's premier tool for identifying organized research fraud across all scientific domains. By seamlessly integrating this cutting-edge tool into the Morressier platform, we are reinforcing our capabilities to detect fraudulent research content at every stage of the research lifecycle. This ensures that publishers can continue to innovate while protecting the integrity of their output.



With every partnership and integration, Morressier strengthens its capabilities to confront misinformation, misconduct, and fraud head-on. Our strategic collaboration with Clear Skies is currently integrated into our Integrity On Demand, and will be available in our Journal Manager, which we are currently developing with IOP Publishing. 

Make sure to stay tuned as we continue our journey toward upholding integrity at every turn!

guide to research integrity