From Richard Stone at Science:
It’s unknown how many papers and theses are ginned up under false pretenses. In 2014, a member of Iran’s Academy of Sciences estimated that each year as many as 5000 theses—roughly 10% of all master’s and Ph.D. theses awarded in Iran—are bought from dealers. In a recent Google search, Behzad Ataie-Ashtiani, a civil engineering professor at Sharif University of Technology here who has shined a light on the practice (Science, 18 March, p. 1273), says he found 330,000 links to paper sellers in Farsi. (paywall) – Science 16 Sep 2016: Vol. 353, Issue 6305, pp. 1197 DOI: 10.1126/science.353.6305.1197More.
Of course, the problem is slightly different from the one we discussed with China because the papers bought in Iran may be better than the ones the students would have written. It’s the Iranian students that are fakes, not necessarily their data.
It’s troubling that we so many exhortations to “trust science” when there is much less evidence than there used to be that a prudent person should do so. These days, it’s like trusting sausage without knowing what goe into it.
See also: Oh joy! 80+% of Chinese pharma data fabricated