What we have found suggests that some third party agencies may be providing services to authors which include fabricated contact details for peer reviewers during the submission process and then supplying reviews from these addresses.
COPE has issued a statement. We will be working with COPE and other publishers to find ways to address this situation and will now proceed with the retraction of the affected articles that were published and rejection of those that are currently held in our systems.
We are contacting all institutions where researchers suggested fabricated peer reviewers on submission to a BioMed Central journal, and are working with all of our external editors, particularly those whose journals were affected, to ensure we aren’t affected in the future. We are in the process of reviewing our policy on author suggested reviewers.
A separate issue also possibly involving third-party agencies is reported here in Scientific American. These articles will be dealt with at the same time as those compromised by fabricated peer reviewers and will be included in our guidance going forward.