Retraction Watch created a leaderboard of researchers who had the highest number of published papers retracted from academic journals. Those numbers are also presented here:
Of course these are from the researchers who were caught. In each instance, a single fake article was found. And only THEN would there be an investigation going backward to look at previous articles, which again, calls into question the vetting process going in.
And of course, it’s certainly possible that the VERY highest of the high scores are held by someone who hasn’t been caught, and may never be caught and thus never make it onto the leaderboard 🙁
On a related note, here’s a rather goofy set of images from a paper that got into a Journal called “Nano Letters”:
The researcher did some zany photoshop tricks and fooled the researchers who didn’t notice the super-obvious square artifacting around the cells. Imagine if the fake was more competent – we would never even know about it! And remember, this wasn’t caught right away. This passed peer review. It was caught by bloggers.
At the time, the impact factor was 12.94, which is above-average. So this can’t be written off as just being from a bad journal.
And in general, 1.97% of researchers openly admit to having falsified data. Who knows how many actually have!
For more information about the wacky world of peer reviewed journals, check out this article.