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Two journals have plenty of tough questions to answer for after it was discovered that 120 published research papers were computer-generated and essentially "gibberish." The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and Springer, a publisher of scientific journals and research, agreed to remove more than 120 fake studies following an investigation by Cyril Labbe of Joseph Fourier University.
Labbe spent two years analyzing research papers and discovered that more than 120 conference proceedings, as well as research papers attached to specific conferences, were published in 30 different journals, reports Nature. This occurred over the course of five years, from 2008 to 2013, and 16 studies were published in Springer journals and in journals published by the IEEE.
According to Slate, the source of the problem is a prank devised in 2005 by students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. MIT students created a program, SCIgen, that could create fake research papers as a way to test the review process for conferences. The program is free and can be downloaded by anyone to create a fake research paper.
Researchers also submit a SCIgen (or similar program) paper as a way to expose and raise awareness of unsound procedures. Open-access journals accept a fee for publication and that could lead to fake research articles being published as long as they receive payment. One such example occurred in 2009, when a graduate student submitted a computer-generated paper that was accepted after the author paid the $80 submission fee, reports Nature. It turns out that, despite claims of oversight, many conferences accept these research papers and Labbe's investigations have led to serious questions about the approval process.
Among the works were, for example, a paper published as a proceeding from the 2013 International Conference on Quality, Reliability, Risk, Maintenance, and Safety Engineering, held in Chengdu, China. (The conference website says that all manuscripts are “reviewed for merits and contents”.) The authors of the paper, entitled ‘TIC: a methodology for the construction of e-commerce’, write in the abstract that they “concentrate our efforts on disproving that spreadsheets can be made knowledge-based, empathic, and compact”.
Most of the papers were in China or from Chinese or Chinese-affiliated authors:
That is just broken English
That explains a lot, not that you can't get a fake paper through elsewhere, but they have plagiarism detecting software and could use fake-detecting software too if they wanted, which i suspect we may eventually see more of.
Labbé does not know why the papers were submitted — or even if the authors were aware of them. Most of the conferences took place in China, and most of the fake papers have authors with Chinese affiliations.
reply to post by GetHyped
Thank you for taking the time to explain it to me. I still don't understand how the jibberish got past the peers, though. In theory, the review process should work if everyone stops up to the plate with integrity.
And peer reviewed doesn't really help much when your mates at a few other universities are in on it and write in saying that it seems fine
Interesting link, thanks for sharing it. I can't say I'm surprised by the statement, but I'm a little surprised by the prominence and candidness of the author. Whenever research is linked to big corporation profits, there is reason for skepticism. There was a time when big tobacco companies denied adverse health effects of their products and they paid people to lie about the adverse effects. Now we have a similar situation in medicine where some folks ignore adverse effects of more dangerous and more profitable drugs when there are less dangerous and less profitable drugs available, as described here:
reply to post by Indigent
This is being discussed on another site concerning the New England Journal of Medicine. It's from 2009 but relevent, maybe.
NEJM editor: “No longer possible to believe much of clinical research published”
The bribery is rampant in the US too, but it's made in "legal" but unethical forms, like speaking fees, which are only awarded if you say good things about the drug but fail to mention adverse side effects.
Bribery is the lubricant that helps keep China’s public hospitals running, and the health system would struggle to function without illegal payments to poorly paid doctors and administrators, say medical practitioners and industry experts.