Scientific Reports

Scientific Reports is an online peer-reviewed open access scientific mega journal published by Nature Research, covering all areas of the natural sciences. The journal was launched in 2011. The journal has announced that their aim is to assess solely the scientific validity of a submitted paper, rather than its perceived importance, significance or impact.

In 2016, a blog post on the Scholarly Kitchen stated that the journal was becoming the largest one in the world, overtaking PLOS ONE. This occurred in September 2016. Some have suggested that Scientific Reports has a tendency to publish junk science, and have questioned the review process.

Abstracting and indexing

The journal is abstracted and indexed in the Chemical Abstracts Service, the Science Citation Index, and selectively Index Medicus/MEDLINE/PubMed. According to the Journal Citation Reports, the journal has a 2-year impact factor of 4.011 in 2018 and a 5-year impact factor of 4.525.

Peer review and acceptance rate

The journal has been described as a megajournal, conceptually similar to PLOS ONE, with a business model based on article processing charges. The journal's editorial board is extremely large, with several thousand listed members. The Guide to Referees states that to be published, "a paper must be scientifically valid and technically sound in methodology and analysis", and reviewers have to ensure manuscripts "are not assessed based on their perceived importance, significance or impact", but this procedure has been questioned.

The acceptance rate for Scientific Reports was reported to be 55%, based on the self-reported findings of a 2015 study in PeerJ.


Controversial articles

It took Scientific Reports more than four years to retract a plagiarized study from a bachelor's thesis of a Hungarian mathematician. The paper entitled, "“Modified box dimension and average weighted receiving time on the weighted fractal networks" was published in December 2015, and the plagiarism was reported in January 2016 by the former bachelor student. In April 2020, the paper was eventually retracted.

A study published in Scientific Reports on 24 June 2019 claimed that the sun was causing global warming. Based on severe criticism from the scientific community, Scientific Reports started an investigation on the validity of this study and it was retracted by the editors in March 2020.

A 2018 paper claimed that a homeopathic treatment could attenuate pain in rats. It was retracted 8 months later after "swift criticism" from the scientific community.

A controversial 2018 paper suggested that too much bent-neck staring at a cell phone could grow a “horn” on the back of someone's head. The study also failed to mention the conflict of interests of the first author. The paper was later corrected.

The face of Donald Trump was hidden in an image of baboon feces in a paper published in 2018. The journal later removed the image.

Allegedly duplicated and manipulated images in a 2016 paper that were not detected during peer review led to criticism from the scientific community. The article was retracted in June 2016.

A 2016 study proclaimed that a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine caused impaired mobility and brain damage in mice. This paper alarmed public health advocates in Japan and worldwide because of the potential side effects of the HPV vaccine on humans. The study was retracted two years later because ‘the experimental approach does not support the objectives of the study’.

Resignations of editorial board members

In November 2017, 19 editorial board members stepped down due to the journal not retracting a plagiarised 2016 study. The article was eventually retracted in March, 2018.

In 2015, editor Mark Maslin resigned because the journal introduced a trial of a fast-track peer-review service for biology manuscripts in exchange for an additional fee. The trial ran for a month.