The pollution problem has become so great that it poses a serious threat to the "trustworthiness, utility and value of science and medicine," says Arthur L Caplan, director of medical ethics at New York University's Langone Medical Centre.
He points to 'predatory publishers' who charge to publish papers, a practice that now affects around a quarter of all open-access journals, he reckons. The papers are bogus, sub-standard and rarely peer-reviewed.
Then there is research misconduct, which includes the falsifying or fabricating of data, and other "questionable practices".
"All these polluting factors detract from the ability of scientists and physicians to trust what they read, devalue legitimate science, undermine the ability to reproduce legitimate findings, impose huge costs on the publication process, and take a toll in terms of disability and death when tests, treatments and interventions are founded on faulty claims," he writes.
Dr Caplan concludes: "The currency of science is fragile, and allowing counterfeiters, fraudsters, bunko artists, scammers and cheats to continue to operate with abandon in the publishing realm is unacceptable."
(Source: Mayo Clinic Proceedings, April 2015; doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2015.02.017)