October 20, 2012

Academic scam (on bogus/fake research publications)

Posted in Computer Graphics, Research tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 2:45 pm by Eon Strife

This all started when one day in the morning, I found this link :

http://thatsmathematics.com/blog/archives/102

Apparently, it is a math paper generator website. Visitors just need to press few clicks and a randomly generated math paper is available. As mentioned in the website, somebody used the engine to generate a random nonsense paper and then submitted it to a journal, and it was accepted ! Apparently, since few years ago there is also an engine that can generate a random Computer Science paper !

http://pdos.csail.mit.edu/scigen/blog/

From those two blogs we can read some interesting ‘success’ stories on how the generated papers could fool the reviewers…or is that the case ? Or maybe the papers were not reviewed at all ?

In either cases, this is a very serious issue and can degrade the academic value. If the paper is indeed reviewed, that means the conference/journal is of low quality as the reviewers are unable to tell if the paper makes sense or not. If the paper is definitely not reviewed, then it is even worse. It is said that one of the main reasons of this dishonesty is : money. In this way, the ‘fake’ publishers make money either by charging the conference registration fee or charging the subscribers. Or … by charging the authors  (in short : pay us some money if you want your paper want to be published) ! These pages from few years ago report this issue :

http://chronicle.com/article/Open-Access-Publisher-Appears/47717
http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2009/06/10/nonsense-for-dollars/

Note that some real and valid conferences or journals also use this practice (even though some people disagree with this practice, but this is a story for another day) but at least the papers are really reviewed, whereas the bogus conferences or journals do not consider the academic value of research at all.

This matter also spreads to my field, Computer Graphics. Somebody tested an alleged bogus conference by submitting a nonsense work, that is rendering of a close room with not artificial light (that means, it should be perfect dark, nothing is rendered at all). And as predicted, this abstract was accepted !

http://www.cg.tuwien.ac.at/~wp/beware_of_VIDEA_mail.txt

So, what will happen, if we accidentally submit our research result to these kinds of conferences/journals ? Here are some possible repercussions I can think of :

  1. Just say our papers are accepted to these conferences/journals, and it’s later found out or reported that these are bogus conferences/journals, we will face serious problems as people may just associate with with cheating or academic dishonesty regardless of we really do the research or not. Worse, if we are already  high-ranking professors, we may plummet hard and we will make scandal headlines in newspapers.
  2. Since the papers do not go through peer-review, there’s a risk that our paper has a great flaw in the techniques and/or methodologies. When having an academic discussion this can be quite embarassing when the colleagues point out the flaws (or maybe they will consider us to be incompetent). For PhD student case, then prepare to face serious problem in the Oral Defence.
  3. Also related to point no.2. If we are working in a research that can affect many people, just say medicine or chemistry, then when somebody apply the work it can be very disastrous (for example, may cause mass poisoning).
  4. Degrade the academic value. Nobody will trust academic research anymore. Civilization and technology will be halted.

Here are some tips on how to avoid the scams :

  1. Search around the internet for the information about the conferences or journals. Here are two example blogs that provide lists of bogus conferences/journals:
    http://fakejournalss.wordpress.com/
    http://netdriver.blogspot.sg/<
    http://scholarlyoa.com/individual-journals/
  2. Consult your supervisor(s) and your colleague(s) about the conferences or journals.
  3. See if there are notable researchers (in your field) in the conference committee list or journal editor list. If the names exist but you still doubt this, then send an e-mail to the researchers,  by using the e-mail address listed on his/her official lab or university website.
  4. Do some random checks on some of the papers of the conference or jounal:
    – Check if the papers in the bibliographies exist or not.
    – Obviously, check if the paper makes sense or not.
  5. Submit the randomly generated paper and see the review results.

Encore : There’s also an interesting web-based Computer Graphics paper generator. No, it does not generate the whole paper for you, instead it only generates a paper title.

http://www.ywing.net/graphicspaper.php

Just keep pressing the refresh buttons, and enjoy the randomly generated title. Some of them can be quite nonsense, but if you are lucky, some of the generated titles can inspire you for a new research project!

Credits to my labmates, Koa Ming Di for some of the links and the tips, and Nicholas Mario Wardhana for the link to the third bogus journal list.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: