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posted by janrinok on Monday March 03 2014, @09:30PM   Printer-friendly
from the twas-brillig-and-the-slithy-toves dept.

AnonTechie writes:

"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 Labbe 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 Labbe, say that they are now removing the papers.

 
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  • (Score: 5, Informative) by bd on Monday March 03 2014, @10:13PM

    by bd (2773) on Monday March 03 2014, @10:13PM (#10281)

    For many conferences, proceedings are actually not peer-reviewed at all. They just check for the format. They think it would be embarassing enough if you put your name next to gibberish that will be associated with you henceforth.

    On conferences, you usually report on what you are doing right now, what the problems are and what new stuff you are working on, so that others in your field know what you are doing. You try to do that without revealing what you have not yet published. The proceeding is supposed to summarize your talk, but often written before you even know exactly what you will say. It sometimes is seen as a hassle by many and some people think no one will ever read it.

    When you make an actual scientific discovery, you publish a proper paper, that is why you usually cite peer-reviewed papers rather then conference proceedings.

    I think I read an abstract a while back that was about the applications of dilithium crystals in warp engines.

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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by weeds on Monday March 03 2014, @10:28PM

    by weeds (611) on Monday March 03 2014, @10:28PM (#10288) Journal

    "For many conferences, proceedings are actually not peer-reviewed at all."

    That may be true, but from the article:

    "Ruth Francis, UK head of communications at Springer, says that the company has contacted editors, and is trying to contact authors, about the issues surrounding the articles that are coming down. The relevant conference proceedings were peer reviewed, she confirms - making it more mystifying that the papers were accepted."

    So those "reviewers" have some explaining to do.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by bd on Monday March 03 2014, @11:25PM

      by bd (2773) on Monday March 03 2014, @11:25PM (#10325)

      "Ruth Francis, UK head of communications at Springer, says that the company has contacted editors, and is trying to contact authors, about the issues surrounding the articles that are coming down. The relevant conference proceedings were peer reviewed, she confirms - making it more mystifying that the papers were accepted."

      So those "reviewers" have some explaining to do.

      What do you expect the publisher to say ;-). Fact of the matter is, it is already well known that "peer-review" for proceedings is - let's say - not very rigorous. Actually, IEEE proceedings are sometimes one page of abstract and a page filled with figures not related to the abstract, that seem like the author had flying around on his desk. I don't know whether humans read them, I have until now never got interesting information out of one. Computer generated or not.

      But you are right, someone was probably given the designation "peer-reviewer" for each of the sessions these talks were in, and I would not want to be him right now.

      • (Score: 2) by weeds on Tuesday March 04 2014, @01:29AM

        by weeds (611) on Tuesday March 04 2014, @01:29AM (#10386) Journal

        Yeah, they seem to be backing themselves into a corner don't they?

      • (Score: 2) by TheRaven on Tuesday March 04 2014, @10:24AM

        by TheRaven (270) on Tuesday March 04 2014, @10:24AM (#10541) Journal
        That's highly dependent on the field. In computer science, the top publication venues are in conferences (especially the ACM SIG* conferences) and journal articles tend to be retrospectives on longer-running projects. In physics, conferences are where you talk about your work, then you publish the preliminary work directly in the arxiv and eventually might bother with a journal paper. In many humanities subjects, journals are the only valued form of publication.
        --
        sudo mod me up
    • (Score: 1) by goose on Tuesday March 04 2014, @07:58AM

      by goose (3266) on Tuesday March 04 2014, @07:58AM (#10502)

      This is not the first time that a scientific publisher got trolled (nor would it be the last). The sad reality is that getting published has little to do with actual new research. For example, I wrote this - safe link [lelanthran.com] - but have no place to submit for publication. All the places that have an audience who might be interested have strict guidelines about the submitter.

  • (Score: 2) by VLM on Monday March 03 2014, @11:02PM

    by VLM (445) on Monday March 03 2014, @11:02PM (#10310)

    "They just check for the format."

    I've seen enough conference proceedings to know they don't even bother with that. Typographical / graphics arts epic fails.

    • (Score: 1) by lx on Tuesday March 04 2014, @07:23AM

      by lx (1915) on Tuesday March 04 2014, @07:23AM (#10492)

      Dammit Jim, I'm a doctor not a typographer!

  • (Score: 1) by axsdenied on Tuesday March 04 2014, @03:23PM

    by axsdenied (384) on Tuesday March 04 2014, @03:23PM (#10673)

    I have reviewed proceedings at a conference in the past (Physics). We were given the papers on the 2nd day and asked to finish reviewing before the end of the conference which in total lasted 3 days.

    The best I could do in the limited time was to read the paper and comment on the obvious things. There was no time to follow references and read more about the topic. But I doubt most of people even bothered to do that much...