Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Peerless Prank

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-06-12

It’s a little too striking to merely share in Ecletica, so worth mentioning here.

"Spoof paper accepted by ‘peer-reviewed’ journal" (2009-06-11, New Scientist) gives some details about Philip Davis (assisted by a member of the New Eng J Med publishing team), who had a computer-generated "research" paper accepted for publication (providing $800 was deposited in a middle-eastern tax haven by the author).

It’s also worth looking at the software used to generate the bogus paper.  Simply go to the main page of SCIgen at MIT, enter between one and five author names, push a button, and voila!  (Source code available, along with lots of other samples – including acceptances!)

I’m unsure whether Bentham Science Publishers should be labelled mere scammers or scientific fraud.  (I regard scientific fraud as an evil attack on the foundations of rational society, but then I got caught in the backwash of the scandal about my then-dean Michael Briggs, and my favorite lecturer who did a lot of the legwork exposing him suffered tremendously.  If there’s a heaven, Jill Blunk is there with a bench of the spiffiest research kit, a top-of-the-range stereo belting out opera, with an exercise bike to use when she reads journals.)

Not mentioned in the New Scientist article is the page of apparent endorsements by Nobel laureates.  Was this a reputable publishing house that got taken over by unscrupulous so-and-sos?  …Or are the endorsements as bogus as the peer review?

Anyway, dive around the SCIgen site for giggles, "write" a computer science research paper to impress your friends, and also visit the Scholarly Kitchen post "Open Access Publisher Accepts Nonsense Manuscript for Dollars" (2009-06-10) from the "author" of the bogus paper.

As if any reputable and ethical publisher wouldn’t at least question the legitimacy of a computer science paper with authors apparently affiliated with the Center for Research in Applied Phrenology!

Even a QuadRant editor wouldn’t fall for that one!

See Also

  • There is a great "Ernie’s 3DPancakes" post here about a 2005 conference that was sokalized.  Read it.
  • The odd thing about Briggs is that his papers on side effects of the contraceptive pill were good guesses.  The only thing in his favor is that no rabbits were harmed in his research.

2 Responses to “Peerless Prank”

  1. Jacques Chester said

    That Russian bloke, C. Markov, seems to author a lot of papers these days.

  2. […] – Bentham Publishers infamously accepted a nonsense paper recently as discussed in "Peerless Prank" (2009-06-12), seemingly more interested in the money from authors than the quality of the […]

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