Public broadcasters in Germany are reporting that more than 5000 of the country’s scientists have published work in what they call ‘pseudo-scientific’ or predatory journals.

NDR and WDR, together with the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, found papers authored by German researchers from across academia and industry in online publications that charge large upfront fees to publish open access work that does not undergo full peer review or proper editorial checks. In Germany, they report, the number of such publications is five times higher than five years ago and the scale of predatory publishing activity continues to grow. Globally, they estimate 400,000 scientists have been involved.

They found papers published in suspect journals that had been authored by prominent German academics caught up in the scandal, including Peter Nyhuis, a professor at Leibniz University of Hanover who told them he had been ‘unknowingly victimised’ by the system. They also found papers authored by employees from large German pharmaceutical companies.

The findings were broadcast in a documentary, Fake Science, on 23 July.