When Didier Raoult published several studies last year purporting to show the promise of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, critics quickly denounced his methods. Raoult, a microbiologist at Aix-Marseille University, now faces disciplinary action by a French medical regulator, and the drug has largely been discredited as a COVID-19 treatment.
But some researchers had another concern: Raoult’s astonishingly prolific publication in the journal New Microbes and New Infections, where some of Raoult’s collaborators serve as associate editors and editor-in-chief. Since the journal’s creation in 2013, Raoult’s name appeared on one-third of its 728 papers. Florian Naudet, a metascientist at the University of Rennes, wondered how common the pattern was. He and his colleagues teamed up with University of Oxford psychologist Dorothy Bishop, who had developed a method to identify prolific authorship, to explore its extent in the biomedical research literature.
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