ATG Article of the Week: “Publishers withdraw more than 120 gibberish papers”

by | Feb 26, 2014 | 0 comments

Written by Richard Van Noorden and posted on the Nature website “Publishers withdraw more than 120 gibberish papers” spotlights the efforts of  Cyril Labbé of Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France, who has uncovered “computer-generated papers that made it into more than 30 published conference proceedings between 2008 and 2013.”

These “nonsense papers” are created by freely available software called SCIgen which “was invented in 2005 by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge to prove that conferences would accept meaningless papers.”  These MIT researchers have had their contention reinforced as 120 papers previously accepted for publication in a number of conference proceedings have been removed.  After being informed by Mr. Labbé, who has created a website to detect SCIgen produced papers, science publisher Springer removed 16 papers from its publications and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers removed more than 100 from it’s published proceedings.

The article goes on to point out that this incident is only one in a long line of successful efforts in “getting spoof papers accepted in conferences or by journals to reveal weaknesses in academic quality controls.”  The proceedings where the SCIgen articles were accepted claim to be peer reviewed and these problems only add to the mounting evidence that the peer review process may be in serious need of tightening.


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