The goal of all professors is to get tenure, and right now, tenure continues to be awarded based in part on how many peer-reviewed publications they have. Tenure committees treat these publications as evidence that the professor is able to conduct mature research.
Sadly, however, many academic articles today are merely exercises in what one professor I knew called “creative plagiarism” — rearrangements of previous research with a new thesis appended on to them.
When a handful of authors were caught reviewing their own papers, it exposed weaknesses in modern publishing systems. Editors are trying to plug the holes.
While 100 retractions over a short period of time may be eye-popping, it’s also not surprising, and is a reminder that PLOS ONE has invested in expanding its research integrity team in recent years. It began issuing more retractions around 2018 as its team worked through hundreds of reports from Elisabeth Bik about papers with duplicated images, at least some of which are clearly linked to paper mills.