Monday, March 3, 2014

Is it possible to publish gibberish in a peer-reviewed journal?

Unfortunately, I would say yes. I find it discouraging that some papers contain rambling speculative sections, particularly about connecting theory and experiment,

However, what I did not know until today is that it is even possible to publish literal computer generated gibberish. This was described in Nature last week

Publishers withdraw more than 120 gibberish papers
"Conference proceedings removed from subscription databases after scientist reveals that they were computer-generated."

The relevant papers were not just in some unheard of "spam" "journal" or "conference", but ones that were published by Springer and IEEE.

The fraud was exposed by a computer scientist, Cyril Labbe.
Labbé is no stranger to fake studies. In April 2010, he used SCIgen to generate 102 fake papers by a fictional author called Ike Antkare. Labbé showed how easy it was to add these fake papers to the Google Scholar database, boosting Ike Antkare’s h-index, a measure of published output, to 94 — at the time, making Antkare the world's 21st most highly cited scientist. Last year, researchers at the University of Granada, Spain, added to Labbé’s work, boosting their own citation scores in Google Scholar by uploading six fake papers with long lists to their own previous work.
My thanks to Anthony Jacko and Ben Powell for bringing this to my attention.

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