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Busted: 120 gibberish science papers withdrawn — so much for “peer review”

Written by Jo Nova, jonova.com.au

At least 120 computer generated nonsense papers have been reviewed and published in publications of the  Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and Springer, as well as conference proceedings. The fakes have just been discovered by a French researcher and are being withdrawn.junk Science

Cyril Labbé found a way to spot artificially-generated science papers, and published it his website and lo, the fakes turned up en masse. In the past, pretend papers have turned up in open access journals–this time the fake papers appeared in subscription based journals. But the man who caught the fakes says he cannot be sure he’s caught them all, because he couldn’t check all the papers behind paywalls.

According to Nature:

The publishers Springer and IEEE are removing more than 120 papers from their subscription services after a French researcher discovered that the works were computer-generated nonsense.

Over the past two years, computer scientist Cyril Labbé of Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France, has catalogued computer-generated papers that made it into more than 30 published conference proceedings between 2008 and 2013. Sixteen appeared in publications by Springer, which is headquartered in Heidelberg, Germany, and more than 100 were published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), based in New York. Both publishers, which were privately informed by Labbé, say that they are now removing the papers.

One paper was called “TIC: a methodology for the construction of e-commerce”. In the abstract it claimed they “concentrate our efforts on disproving that spreadsheets can be made knowledge-based, empathic, and compact”.

The system IS the problem. Peer review is not rigorous, the incentives are all wrong, but it is given huge social and financial importance far beyond what it is capable of.

Labbé says that the latest discovery is merely one symptom of a “spamming war started at the heart of science” in which researchers feel pressured to rush out papers to publish as much as possible.

These fakes were generated by software and so blatant that they were spotted by software too (did anybody read them?):

Labbé developed a way to automatically detect manuscripts composed by a piece of software called SCIgen, which randomly combines strings of words to produce fake computer-science papers. SCIgen was invented in 2005 by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge to prove that conferences would accept meaningless papers — and, as they put it, “to maximize amusement” (see ‘Computer conference welcomes gobbledegook paper’). A related program generates random physics manuscript titles on the satirical websitearXiv vs. snarXiv.

Labbé has been in this game on both sides. He used SCIgen to create 102 fake papers which were published four years ago. He invented a fake author and got the imaginary scientist’s rank up to the the 21st most highly cited scientist. So much for the Google Scholar ranking…

Is it a hoax, or  are real researchers using SCIgen (a program that writes “papers”) as a way of quickly polishing a half done paper, or writing an invented paper? “Most of the papers were submitted to conferences based in China and were published with Chinese affiliations.” We know in China there is great pressure, and many rewards given for scientists to publish.

Science is not process that can be bureaucratized, commodified, bottled and boxed. The success of an idea cannot be measured by a publishing index.

Read more at jonova.com.au

Comments (4)

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    Doug  Cotton



    Then the IPCC uses 1980’s assertive statements from books which claim there is a runaway greenhouse effect on Venus. Well, the temperature of any location on the equator of Venus falls by 5 degrees at night (so Venus could have cooled right down by now) but it then rises by 5 degrees in the four-month-long Venus day. How does the required energy get into the surface? The radiation from the Sun has been measured and is less than 20W/m^2, whereas about 16,000 W/m^2 would be required to cause the temperature to rise. No radiation from the colder atmosphere can do so.

    Then you may wish to turn your attention to the nominal troposphere of Uranus where it is hotter than Earth’s surface at the base thereof, even though there’s no surface or solar radiation.

    There is no science reviewed by suitable peers which can be correct if it concludes that back radiation from carbon dioxide (one molecule in 2,500 other molecules) is causing Earth’s surface to be warmer than it otherwise would have been.

    In the field of climatology, “science” is blatantly corrupt, as revealed in Climategate emails. There has been no warming since 1998 and this period of slight net cooling will be about 30 years in duration. There is no reason to assume that the long term 1,000 year cycle of warming and cooling by about two degrees will not continue, being regulated by planetary orbits, and it is due to start 500 years of cooling within the next century or so.

    According to Dutch Professor Richard Tol (who has resigned from the Climate Panel of the UN) “The Panel is directed from within the environment lobby and not from within the science.”

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    Doug  Cotton


    The IPCC has a political agenda emphasised by Al Gore. It seems every country has failed in its duty of paying due diligence to proper analysis of the physics involved. Climatologists are not physicists. The issue relating to the effect of carbon dioxide is deeply entrenched in the physics of radiative transfer and thermodynamics. Would you go to a medical practice to have your teeth filled? Why then do you consider climatologists (who have very limited knowledge and usually mistaken understanding of physics) to be suitable peers of a physics-related matter?

    For example, one of the problems involves incorrect understanding of the process described in modern statements of the second law of thermodynamics which states that the entropy of an isolated system never decreases, because isolated systems always evolve toward thermodynamic equilibrium, a state with maximum entropy. The process described explains why gravity induces a thermal gradient in any planet’s atmosphere, crust and mantle, just as we see evidence thereof in a Ranque-Hilsch vortext tube which you can read about in the article talk pages on Wikipedia. This thermal gradient would produce surface temperatures about 10 degrees hotter on Earth than we observe, but fortunately water molecules in the atmosphere reduce the magnitude of the gradient so that the supported temperature at the surface boundary is cooler. Studies show this to be the case. If the IPCC were correct about their “greenhouse effect” of water, then moist rainforests would be expected to be about 20 to 30 degrees hotter than dry regions at similar altitudes and latitudes. That is not the case, and so the IPCC greenhouse effect is fiction.

    Another major problem is that the IPCC authors assume that back radiation can help the Sun warm the oceans. But it is well known that back radiation from a cooler atmosphere does not penetrate water, whereas the solar radiation reaches down into the ocean thermoclines. But, the very fact that solar radiation does penetrate several metres into the oceans, means that over 99% of it is transmitted right through the thin surface layer which could be considered perhaps just 1 centimetre in depth. But a black or grey body is not transparent, and, in any event, there is no adjustment in the models and NASA / Trenberth / IPCC energy budget diagrams that reduces the intensity of solar radiation by 99% or more for the 70% of Earth’s surface that is ocean. So they use Stefan-Boltzmann calculations quite incorrectly to “prove” that their combination of back radiation and solar radiation supposedly raises the surface temperature by 33 degrees from an isothermal state. Even that assumption of an isothermal state is wrong because it is not the state of thermodynamic equilibrium with no unbalanced energy potentials. It would have unbalanced energy in that it would have more gravitational potential energy per molecule without any compensating reduction in mean kinetic energy per molecule – that is, without a reduction in temperature at the top.

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    I am surprised to see JoNova published here, since she describes herself as a moderate, on climate science.
    However I presume that she has given her permission to have this article reposted.

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    Pat Obar


    So much for the so called peer review process, that “only” discards any opposing POV!

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