When Scientific Papers Are, Literally, Gibberish


More than 120 scientific papers have been removed from electronic databases of such papers published by Springer and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. The papers contain fraudulent research findings—but not exactly of the kind that you might expect.

Apparently, the papers were generated using a program called SCIgen, or some knock-off. Developed by scientists at MIT almost a decade ago, SCIgen works from a database of existing scientific papers and strings common but arbitrarily phrases together to create papers that superficially sound like genuine scholarship but are actually absolute gibberish.

The developers of the program wanted to demonstrate that papers for presentation at professional conferences could be accepted simply because they sounded “scientific.”

The current demonstration of the program’s efficacy was provided by Cyril Labbé, a computer scientist at Joseph Fourier University, in Grenoble, France, who has developed a method for identifying papers produced with SCIgen.

The revelation…

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