12 June, 2009

Fake Paper About Nothing Accepted for Publication

This would be hilarious if it weren't for the implications...

A guy called Philip Davis, a Cornell university PhD student, along with Kent Anderson, submitted a scientific paper entitled 'Deconstructing Access Points' to The Open Information Science Journal. The paper was 'peer-reviewed' and accepted for publication pending the $800 fee. Nothing strange about that you say...?


The thing is that the paper is about nothing. That's right. It makes no sense at all. The authors created a computer programme that wrote the whole paper for them. It reads and is presented like a real scientific paper, but on closer inspection it says nothing at all. It's just a mish-mash of non-sensical statments...

As the authors explain:

Using SCIgen, a software that generates grammatically correct, “context-free” (i.e. nonsensical) papers in computer science, I quickly created an article, complete with figures, tables, and references. It looks pretty professional until you read it. For example:

"In this section, we discuss existing research into red-black trees, vacuum tubes, and courseware [10]. On a similar note, recent work by Takahashi suggests a methodology for providing robust modalities, but does not offer an implementation [9]."

So following submission, the fake paper was apparently peer-reviewed and then, without receiving any reviewer comments at all, they received an email confirming that it had been successful:

This is to inform you that your submitted article has been accepted for publication after peer-reviewing process in TOISCIJ. I would be highly grateful to you if you please fill and sign the attached fee form and covering letter and send them back via email as soon as possible to avoid further delay in publication.

They immediately retracted the paper and have explained the whole thing on their blog. It is a a huge embarrassment for the peer-review process and 'open access' publishing and the people involved should be ashamed. Well, it turns out they are because two have already resigned over this debacle, namely TOISCIJ editorial board members Bambang Parmanto and Marc Williams, although apparently neither were involved in this paper's journey through the editorial process. The question is, of course, was anyone involved?

I have to point out this bit:

The manuscript was given two co-authors, David Phillips and Andrew Kent. Any similarity to real or fictitious, living or dead academics is purely coincidental, as was their institutional affiliation: The Center for Research in Applied Phrenology based in Ithaca, New York. If the acronym didn’t reveal the farce right away, phrenology is the pseudoscience of reading personality traits from the lumps on one’s head.

LOL! It's a serious issue, but you've got to laugh at that!!

No comments: