Highlights from STM’s Research Integrity Master Class

Maverick Senior Associate, Edward Newman, attended last week’s STM Research Integrity Master Class at the annual STM Week conference and shares some of his highlights.

The two areas of focus on the day’s agenda were paper mills and image manipulation. With presentations from some of the largest commercial publishers on their mass retractions, supported by lively discussions from the conference participants, it was clear that these types of ethical misconduct need addressing urgently.

To tackle paper mills, the STM Association presented on its development of the ‘STM Integrity Hub’. Due to launch next year, this AI tool will integrate into a publisher’s peer-review workflow and detect paper mills by identifying ‘signals’ in an article (e.g., ‘tortured phrases’ and suspicious references.) The Integrity Hub should prove to be an effective tool for identifying paper mill articles but relying solely on this product could have limitations in the longer-term as paper mills adapt to avoid triggering the system’s ‘red flags’.

Image manipulation, most commonly associated with duplication and splicing, is becoming increasingly common for publishers. It was agreed that spotting a manipulated image is both challenging and very time consuming, and as a result, some of the larger publishers have been trialling new AI based products to support their efforts (e.g., Proofig, ImageTwin, Imachek, and Figcheck.) Whilst these products produce impressive results, affordable options will need to be considered to enable the lower-income publishers to utilise this technology.

The key takeaway from the conference was that AI technology has come a long way to address the threat of paper mills and image manipulation. However, there are limitations with these products so there is still the need for well-trained humans to be involved.

Maverick offers a program of research integrity services to help publishers achieve and maintain best practice
research integrity standards. Download the Research Integrity service sheet.

By Edward Newman, Maverick Senior Associate

Edward is a publishing professional with over 10 years’ experience in journals publishing. With a particular focus on open access (OA), he has provided strategic advice, planning, financial forecasting/pricing, and project management for numerous partner clients looking to adapt to the rapidly changing journals market. With the use of data analytics, Edward provides expert guidance on how best to commission new content, engage with a broad geographic market, and take journals to the top of their disciplines.