"[T]hey will be removed, not retracted, since they are all nonsense."
June 15, 2014 12:39 PM Subscribe
posted by zittrain (39 comments total)
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Earlier this year venerable academic publishers Springer and IEEE were impelled to remove more than 120 physics papers from their published proceedings
because the papers were computer-generated nonsense. The SCIgen
program (and its math-oriented fork
) is available for the non-discriminating would-be author to generate such word salad. It's previously been used to perform hoaxes (previously
) of the kind that Alan Sokal wrought
on a post-modern journal. (After the papers are published, the hoaxers claim incompetence by editors.) But in this case the papers don't appear to be hoaxes -- they're instead perhaps generated to pad academic CVs
, with the publishers all too willing to take the publication fees.
Springer has responded
by deploying a SCIgen detector
for its papers, and on reflection
decided that even nonsense was worthy of a retraction rather than mere deletion. No word of more qualitative review of the flow of papers going into its journals.
Jeffrey Beall maintains a list of predatory publishers
who write to academics (previously
) in the hopes of collecting publishing fees from authors desperate to be published in prestigious-sounding journals. The list has grown from 18 in 2011 to 477 in 2014.
As early as 1994 there was worry about an increasing volume and price
of scholarly literature, with the Internet and electronic publishing perhaps both the problem and, ultimately, a solution. Outright gibberish in sophisticated journals may inspire continued progress towards alternative means of cultivating scholarly work and dialogue.
[My first attempt at an FPP -- feedback welcome.]