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Publishers Withdraw More Than 120 Fake Papers 62

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the trolling-journals-for-no-particular-reason dept.
bmahersciwriter writes "Over the past two years, computer scientist Cyril Labbé of Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France, has cataloged computer-generated papers that made it into more than 30 published conference proceedings between 2008 and 2013. Sixteen appeared in publications by Springer, which is headquartered in Heidelberg, Germany, and more than 100 were published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), based in New York. Both publishers, which were privately informed by Labbé, say that they are now removing the papers." Looks like journal trolling is really easy.
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Publishers Withdraw More Than 120 Fake Papers

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  • by fermion (181285) on Monday February 24, 2014 @08:57PM (#46329923) Homepage Journal
    I recall when someone went down my block and the window of every car parked on the street. It was a crime, but really there was no easy way to catch the perp, and we just replaced the glass. We continued to park on the street, did not pay for huge security expense, and it never really happened again. Some kids probably just goofing off. No real profit in the crime. Just hooliganism.

    Which is what this seems like. The process of science is not going to jeopardize itself just because some board kids want to vandalize the walls and get attention. If we change the process not to improve it, but just to defend against the Justin Beibers of the world, what good would that do?

    As it is there are safeguards in place. As much as people deride the cost of publishing, this reduces the incentive of hooligans to publish purely fake papers. Peer review, which does not protect against purposeful fraudulent papers, does keep a reign on the problem. Then there is simple principle that a single paper is just that, a single paper. It is one data point, and even if referenced widely, is in no way fact.

    This also makes me recall the 'confusing' health debate. Like what to eat, what not to eat, etc. The problem is that many people read a popular media report based on a single piece of research and think it is true. This misconception indicates the problem with science education in America. That one result is meaningful. That our basic principles of science were developed fully in one paper, with no background, and no adjustment as more data was taken. For instance, relativity was based on at least hundred years of research. Einstein pretty much observed single discrepancy in the magnetic/electrical field and formulated a correction.

  • by Obfuscant (592200) on Monday February 24, 2014 @09:20PM (#46330129)

    Just hooliganism. Which is what this seems like.

    This. Someone found a system that was based on trust and decided to try to beat it. Yawn.

    Conferences are not journals. The peer-review comes during the presentation, not when the abstract is submitted. If the session moderator doesn't know the submitter, maybe he'll look at the abstract a bit more closely, but he's not going to send the abstract out to three other people in the field to vet it. So it gets published.

    A very long time ago someone did this as a joke at a conference I went to. The talk was about "a hole in the bottom of the ocean. There's a log in the hole in the bottom of the ocean. There's a frog on the log in the hole in the bottom of the ocean..." OMG! How awful. A bit of fun on the session moderator's part. Nobody got shot or fired. We all survived.

  • by hey! (33014) on Monday February 24, 2014 @09:38PM (#46330271) Homepage Journal

    I recently did some literature research into ontology technology, and was shocked by how many papers were pot-boilers that disguised trivial ideas with inflated language. These were papers that had absolutely no discernible academic value other than to pad a resume, and collect but a smattering of citations, mostly from similar papers. In comparison the seminal papers, the ones that get tons of citations for years to come are robust, thought-provoking and well-written.

    Granted the well-written part probably has something to do with attracting future citations, but I think the trivial nature of the useless papers probably has something to do with their obscure style.

  • Reject this Crap (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DrNico (691592) on Monday February 24, 2014 @10:43PM (#46330689)
    As someone who reviews papers (by humans) for conferences and regularly says "reject this crap" (politely, and with reasons) only to see the paper accepted, I'm not too surprised.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 24, 2014 @11:12PM (#46330879)

    In CS, well-refereed conference proceedings often exceed journal publications in their contemporaneous impact and prestige value to authors. CS journals typically take 2 years to process a manuscript to publication. Way too slow for a fast-moving field. Good conferences will have a 20% manuscript acceptance rate (been there, done that, as author and reviewer, many times) with only useful papers presented and put into proceedings, only a few months after research results have been written up.

    I had the privilege of educating a dean about the value of selectively-refereed conference proceedings for academic computer scientists. It worked. Also educated about the adjunct value of releasing research software to the specialized communities, if the usage and impact can be documented.

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