United2Act launches action against paper mills

Paper mills are a real threat to the integrity of the scholarly record. Collective effort is needed because no individual stakeholder can solve this problem alone.

A virtual summit in May 2023 engaged research bodies, publishers, researchers/sleuths, universities and the publishing infrastructure from 15 countries. As a result of the summit, United2Act, an international collaboration committed to addressing the challenge of paper mills in scholarly publishing, released its Consensus Statement outlining five key areas of action against the impact of paper mills on the integrity of academic research and publishing.

International stakeholders supporting the Consensus Statement are actively working to develop and execute the plans supporting the five key areas of action in the statement.

Consensus Statement

The participants of the United2Act Summit agreed on five key collaborative multi-stakeholder actions to address the problem of paper mills.

  1. Education and awareness

To create new educational tools and resources, and to promote education and awareness activities to make researchers, journal editors, reviewers, journals, and publishers aware of the problem of paper mills.

  1. Improve post-publication corrections

To investigate and agree ways to improve communication with those who report misconduct to journals, and to agree ways in which the correction of the literature can be speeded up when misconduct is discovered.

  1. Research paper mills

To work with interested parties to facilitate and organise research to be carried out on paper mills, with particular attention to regional and subject specific aspects.

  1. Enable the development of trust markers

To work with the various suppliers who are developing tools which verify the identity of authors, reviewers, and editors to ensure that the solutions work for the variety of authors and author choices and are fit for purpose.

  1. Continue to facilitate dialogue between stakeholders about the systematic manipulation of the publication process

To continue to bring together the many voices in this area through joint projects and initiatives.

United2Act is a group of international stakeholders committed to addressing the collective challenge of paper mills in scholarly publishing. It is supported by COPE and STM. A Nature article provides additional information.