Gibberish Research Paper Quotes My Cousin Vinny, Tells The Reader (Repeatedly) The Paper Is A Fraud... Gets Accepted At Academic Conference

from the high-standards dept

Via the always excellent Retraction Watch, we learn of the story of Navin Kabra, an entrepreneur in India who was realizing that the requirement placed on many students in India that they must get two papers "published" at various conferences was really just a huge scam to get students to pay the fees for the submissions and the conferences. In order to expose all of this, he created two gibberish papers, mostly using the infamous SCIgen app which generates gibberish scientific sounding text. Both papers were accepted, and he paid the fees to have one "published." You can read Kabra's astounding account of all of this on his own blog, or read the incredible paper that was both accepted and published by the conference.

Kabra even went to extra lengths to find out the criteria for accepting papers to the conference, wondering if they basically just accepted everything from anyone who paid. Yet, the organizers of the conferences insisted they had high standards. According to Kabra's recorded interview with the organizers:
  • The conference received 130 submissions out of which only 60 were selected.
  • All the papers were reviewed by panelists from a panel of international experts using a double-blind review methodology.
  • Only high quality papers were accepted
  • All accepted papers were sent reviews from at least 3 reviewers each and the authors were then asked to update the papers based on the review comments. (No such thing happened with the 2 papers we submitted to the conference.)
Back to the paper, though. In the very second paragraph the paper straight out tells the reader that it's a gibberish paper generated by SCIgen:
As is clear from the title of this paper, this paper deals with the entertainment industry. So, we do provide entertainment in this paper. So, if you are reading this paper for entertainment, we suggest a heuristic that will allow you to read this paper efficiently. You should read any paragraph that starts with the first 4 words in bold and italics – those have been written by the author in painstaking detail. However, if a paragraph does not start with bold and italics, feel free to skip it because it is gibberish auto-generated by the good folks at SCIGen.
Then there's a ton of absolute gibberish, followed by:
But the motivated reader is encouraged to not read too much into the previous paragraph, because it was copy-pasted from a random document on the internet.
Even when the paper actually pretends to discuss the official topic it's so obviously ridiculous. The paper's title is "Use of Cloud-Computing and Social Media to Determine Box Office Performance" and discusses its special "UIB" and "AAF" algorithms, which it later reveals:
The real key to the UIB algorithm is this: UIB stands for "Use IMDB.com via a Browser" and in this method we simply go to IMBD.com, navigate to the page for the movie we're interested in and check whether the box office performance has been listed there. If yes, we report that number. If not, we try again after a few days.

[....] Figure 2, which is supposed to give an overview of the AAF algorithm is simply a random image that we downloaded off of Google's image search using the search string "how to use Facebook". By now you must be clearly wondering what AAF stands for and how does it work. The full form of AAF is ask a friend, and we do that by posting a status update on Facebook. When someone replies with an answer we simply note that down. If more than one person gives an answer, we take an average.
This is not the only time both are defined. It is repeated multiple times, just in case any human readers somehow missed it. There is no way any human read this paper before it was accepted or published. Later on, it admits directly in the paper that the named author is "not really the author of this paper" and names Kabra as the real author. And that's before it fills a section with dialogue from the famous movie, My Cousin Vinnie. They don't hide this either. After discussing his wife's favorite movie, Sholay (an Indian film), he notes that he would include dialogue from that movie, but since it's not in English, the squiggly spell check lines might alert someone to the fact that something was up:
Another problem is that if we indeed insert Sholay dialogues here, they will all show up in red due to the spell check, and we are a little worried that someone might hit pagedown and notice that section. So, instead, we are replacing it with dialogues from our wife's favorite English movie, My Cousin Vinnie.
And, the paper lives up to that promise.

There is, also, the required shout out to Douglas Adams.
Lastly, but not the leastly, my friend Shrikant, who is likely to read this paper will never forgive me if I don't mention in this paper that the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42.
And, of course, in the "conclusion" of the paper -- just in case someone skipped right to the conclusion, they again make what they're doing quite obvious to the point of directly saying that no one read the paper:
In this position paper we described UIB, a method to use the browser to check IMDB.com to lookup box office performance of movies, and AAF, a method to ask friends on Facebook about how a movie is doing, and a hybrid algorithm AAFtUIB in which we ask a friend to use IMDB.com. And we've managed to reference Hilbert, HHGTTG, Sholay, My Cousin Vinny, Jeff Naughton, the Wisconsin Database Performance Paper, Xeno's paradox, Meeta Kabra and the wogma.com website, and we even referenced the Sokal Affair in the heading of the paper (actually in the name of the institute that the authors are from, but you get what I mean, right?) proving once and for all that nobody has read this paper.
Kabra's writeup notes that this entire experience has been quite depressing.
My original intention of doing this was to spread awareness amongst students about the true nature of such conferences.

But now, after having gone through the experience, I am a bit depressed. I don’t know how awareness about this issue is going to help.
As he points out, since students are still required to have papers accepted by conferences this kind of crap is only going to continue. Of course, at least some of them may now realize that it really doesn't matter what they submit.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    art guerrilla (profile), Jan 6th, 2014 @ 5:48am

    and for his exemplary efforts in exposing this...

    ...i'm sure he'll be 'thanked' by some sort of legal threat, or charged with abusing the system, or otherwise punished for exposing the graft of his betters...

    like night follows day, so persecution follows exposure of the crimes of our 'superiors'...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 5:57am

    Well, my research indicates that 90% of stats are made up on the spot. Anyways, no one reads the article anyways and so no one reads the comments so I might as well just make things up since everything is madeup anyways. why should I wory bout speling and gramar since no one reads this all the techdirt shils don't read the article so you might as well just post anything sence non of it is gonna be red. the sky is not blue, it's asdfojawer. Yes, that's a color. I might as well be speaking greek anyways since I will be just as easily understood since no one reads this nayways.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 6:00am

    Re:

    I think my comment above deserves to be published in a top ranking scientific paper and referenced by every scientist around. It's about as credible as half the other stuff published and it could inform people that half of it is not even read, that is assuming people even read it to be aware of that fact.

     

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  4.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jan 6th, 2014 @ 6:02am

    If you think /that's/ creative...

    Just wait until you see what excuse(if any) the people at the conference come up with to explain how the paper made it past their stringent standards, that included '...panelists from a panel of international experts using a double-blind review methodology ', followed by '3 reviewers each [paper]'.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 6:12am

    Re: If you think /that's/ creative...

    I'm still waiting for all the shills to jump on this in their defense.

    Cricket ... Cricket ... cricket.

    Where are all the shills?

    It wouldn't surprise me if they don't even read the article (half the time they don't seem to) and simply make up some fake defense that has nothing to do with the article at all.

    Shill: Mike, you are jumping the bandwagon here again, you know. You bandwagon jumper only wanting pageviews.

    and, of course, the mainstream media, not wanting to do anything to criticize publishers, IP extremists, and other middlemen when they do something wrong, will not give this story the attention it deserves.

     

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  6.  
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    Clownius, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 6:21am

    Re: Re: If you think /that's/ creative...

    Nah you forgot ootb who will suggest google is at fault and Mike is shilling for them

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 6:23am

    Re: Re: Re: If you think /that's/ creative...

    Well, yeah. Read the article

    "a random image that we downloaded off of Google's image search"

    Google is clearly at fault here ... being a conduit to fraud ...

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 6:24am

    Re: Re: Re: If you think /that's/ creative...

    This article has convinced me that OTTB should be a scientist since all you need to do to become one is to publish gibberish that no one will read and he's real good at posting gibberish.

     

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  9.  
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    Pat, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 6:37am

    Jeez

    You'd think a paper like that would stick out like a sore thumb around there... you know?

     

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  10. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 6:46am

    Old news to me and Mike: his Ivy League "school" was no better.

    Just more expensive and prestigious. Especially in his alleged field: Economics is the non-science of telling fantasies to flatter plutocrats by omitting the real effects on laborers. It's an easy degree path for the lazy but well-off, requiring skill only at unctuous re-writing.

    Besides the "Streisand Effect", what are Mike's visible accomplishments? ... Fifteen years of trying to do away with all copyright so grifters can "monetize" content they didn't pay to produce nor reward the creators? (I shouldn't even put a question mark on that! It's all I've been able to find! Mike doesn't even have a bio listing his academic McQualifications.)

    How is being given a trust fund different from welfare -- except for larger "entitlement"? A trust fund is just paper: every bit of food those kids eat is produced by the actual laborers TOO. It's only laborers who are burdened by parasites at both ends of the scale, but at least the poor MIGHT one day earn their own keep: The Rich never will.

    02:45:51[c-026-6]

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 6:58am

    Re: Jeez

    I should use SCIgen to generate a patent application. Most patents are gibberish anyways.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 7:04am

    Re: Old news to me and Mike: his Ivy League "school" was no better.

    Mike played a huge role in stopping SOPA. Mike has kept me and others informed about many important issues that we care about. What did you accomplish?

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 7:04am

    Re: Old news to me and Mike: his Ivy League "school" was no better.

    Ah there you are! I was hoping you'd supply some twisted defense as to why the actions of the conference are okay and why Mike is wrong that we could pick apart. But no all you've got is a desperate ad hominem against Mike with no basis in the article you're commenting on whatsoever. *Sigh*
    ------------------------------------------------------
    Still the flat out exploitation on display here seems sadly typical these days.

     

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  14.  
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    Easily Amused (profile), Jan 6th, 2014 @ 7:31am

    Re: Old news to me and Mike: his Ivy League "school" was no better.

    You are going to have to try harder with the trolling this year... weak adhoms are not going to get it done.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 7:35am

    I have a friend with a doctorate

    And he claims its pointless. He said he was working with someone on their paper, and found a critical flaw in it that made it all wrong.

    No one cared and the person got a doctorate aswell. You can publish anything and no one reads it. Made all of his own effort seem pointless.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 7:43am

    Re: If you think /that's/ creative...

    The stringent standards probably consist of the ideal number of pages for delivery in a conference session. After all, like the number of papers published it can be measured.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 7:47am

    What is sad is that this doesn't stop with "research papers", you see it all the time everywhere.

    "Your water is safe to drink with have the highest standards of quality", "your food is safe we have the highest standards of quality", and so on.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    Adrian, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 7:49am

    Re: If you think /that's/ creative...

    Obviously the double-blind review methodology is the number of blindfolds worn by the reviewers whilst reading the papers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    nasch (profile), Jan 6th, 2014 @ 7:56am

    Effect

    The university is now publishing a notice that publishing papers is not mandatory for engineering students, so apparently this is having an effect.

    http://smritiweb.com/navin/education-2/fake-paper-impact-uop-vc-to-issue-circular-clarifying- that-publications-are-not-mandatory

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Reality Check (profile), Jan 6th, 2014 @ 8:36am

    Re: Old news to me and Mike: his Ivy League "school" was no better.

    Methinks this post was created using the SCIgen app.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    Niall (profile), Jan 6th, 2014 @ 9:17am

    Re: Re: Old news to me and Mike: his Ivy League "school" was no better.

    No, that would make sense and be more to the point!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 10:23am

    Re: I have a friend with a doctorate

    Just because there was a fatal fault doesn't mean the effort, time, and research was for naught. In science, wrong answers are just as enlightening as right ones.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 10:26am

    Re: I have a friend with a doctorate

    that, atleast, sounds more like something else (a report with a completely nullifying flaw in the calculations or fundamental arguments can easily pass since it is about showing that you are able to handle the scientific methodology. Therefore getting a doctorate is not an argument here).
    Publishing has always been a fickle business of vultures feeding on academia and it will continue to be so for a long time.

    The OP is about how conferences have evolved into something almost pointless. I know several pHd's who chose their conferences from a tourist aspect and held a holiday there after the conference (anything else would be completely abnormal)...
    Conferences has evolved into more of a vacation where academics in specific research areas from around the world see eachother and have fun, than a serious knowledge sharing oportunity (most of the knowledge sharing happens online today!). That the articles can be so randomly accepted further highlight how these previously crucial knowledge sharing opportunities have evolved into something close to a pure R&R industry.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
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    Matthew A. Sawtell, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 10:47am

    Just confirms something already know in the Design/Engineering Communities

    Laughed a little when I saw this, given it has been a 'known issue' in the Design/Engineering communities for Aerospace, Automotive, Heavy Industries, etc. for decades now. Cripes, nothing better than outsourcing an entire project overseas, just to have it be late, over budget, and/or just an 'unsafe at any speed' design. Worse, when a company decides to convert a department to mostly H-1Bs, and find out none of them know what they were brought over for. Either the H-1B goes to a fly by night cram school, or the management attempts to extract what remaining knowledge is left from the existing staff from some sort of 'knowledge retention project'.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 6th, 2014 @ 10:55am

    Re: Re: I have a friend with a doctorate

    In science, discovering that a hypothesis is wrong is much more enlightening than discovering that it's right.

    I've worked amongst scientists most of my professional career, and what gets them really happy and excited is when something that was generally believed to be true is disproved -- because that's when you've actually learned something new.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 10:56am

    Why don't they just remove the two-paper requirement and increase the tuition? Ends up better for everyone.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 10:56am

    Re: Re: Old news to me and Mike: his Ivy League "school" was no better.

    Maybe all his posts are created with SCIgen. That certainly would explain a lot.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    DogBreath, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 11:19am

    Re: Re: If you think /that's/ creative...

    No!

    You Fool!

    D-O-U-B-L-E-B-L-I-N-D.

    It clearly means the reviewers are blind... in BOTH eyes!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    OldGeezer (profile), Jan 6th, 2014 @ 11:27am

    WOW! In my sophomore year of high school I bullshitted my way through a report in one weekend that we were given 6 weeks to write. I picked a subject that I knew the teacher would have little knowledge of. I faked all the references but named recognized publications. For my careful counterfeit I received a B. This was in the 60's long before you could copy past Wikipedia and reword it so automated programs that some teachers use won't catch it. A smart ass report like this would have been in the trash by the second paragraph.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 12:36pm

    This report is actually brilliant. Not the topic, or the writing, or the scigen portions, but rather the underlying purpose.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    art guerrilla (profile), Jan 6th, 2014 @ 1:51pm

    Re: Effect

    well, day-am, won't wonders never cease...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 2:46pm

    A few years ago, someone did the same thing with PD/Sharware software sites. They created a program that did absolutely nothing, named it "Award Me Stars" and included a doc file stating that it was complete bullshit. They submitted it to various software site where it was awarded stars, named the editor's top pick, etc.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 3:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: I have a friend with a doctorate

    Sorry I didn't make this clear - the doctorate had a mistake and was hidden by the writer because they didn't want to bother re-evaluating at the point it was found.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 4:37pm

    Re:

    If you can't dazzle them with brilliance ....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
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    Anonymous, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 5:01pm

    Is Navin any relation to Chupa?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
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    radarmonkey (profile), Jan 6th, 2014 @ 5:16pm

    tl;dr

    I'll wait for the movie.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
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    Bart Gogson, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 6:52pm

    Yeez ... Kanye should have the answer

    Apparently Kanye is using the same app to generate his lyrics. And the prompter text for his TV interviews.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Mojo, Jan 7th, 2014 @ 9:30am

    "The usefulness of a document tends to be inverse to its weight"

    "Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
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    rawcookie (profile), Jan 7th, 2014 @ 10:56am

    Re:

    My guess is that it is far more lucrative to have those who were rejected resubmit and pay again.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2014 @ 11:40am

    Paper #2: A scholarly article on how these conferences are massive scams.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
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    g, Jan 7th, 2014 @ 12:54pm

    It's a better read than my dissertation

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
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    btrussell (profile), Jan 12th, 2014 @ 1:19am

    They must get two papers published?

    Doesn't anyone believe that the copyright system is enough incentive?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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