25 November 2016

The problem with "open access" publications

From a report in The Guardian back in 2014:
An open-access “predatory” academic journal has accepted a bogus research paper submitted by an Australian computer scientist titled Get Me Off Your Fucking Mailing List.

The paper, originally written by American researchers David Mazières and Eddie Kohle in 2005, consisted of the title’s seven words repeated over and over again.

Dr Peter Vamplew, a lecturer and researcher in computer science at Federation University in Victoria, submitted the paper to the International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology earlier this year after receiving dozens of unsolicited emails from the publication and other journals of dubious repute.

“There’s been this move to open-access publishing which has often meant essentially a user-pays system,” Vamplew said. “So you pay to have the paper published and it’s available to the public for free.”..

Vamplew said he submitted the paper expecting the journal’s editors would “read it, ignore it, and at best take me off their mailing list”.

Weeks later he received good news: “It was accepted for publication. I pretty much fell off my chair.”
My career was in the academic world, including doing peer-review of manuscripts submitted to several professional journals.  There is a role for open-access publications in the scientific community, but they are subject to all sorts of abuse.  Some people in academia (or those pretending to be so) pad their curriculum vitae with "publications" that have never been peer-reviewed and have no scientific credibility.  It's also a way for corporations or politicians or anyone who wants to sway public opinion to bring fake "facts" to the public's attention.  These journals may also contribute to the public's distrust of "scientists" and "researchers."

The story above happened in 2014.  Here's a more recent example, also reported in The Guardian:
A nonsensical academic paper on nuclear physics written only by iOS autocomplete has been accepted for a scientific conference... “Since I have practically no knowledge of nuclear physics I resorted to iOS autocomplete function to help me writing the paper,” he wrote in a blog post on Thursday. “I started a sentence with ‘atomic’ or ‘nuclear’ and then randomly hit the autocomplete suggestions.
“The atoms of a better universe will have the right for the same as you are the way we shall have to be a great place for a great time to enjoy the day you are a wonderful person to your great time to take the fun and take a great time and enjoy the great day you will be a wonderful time for your parents and kids,” is a sample sentence from the abstract.
The nonsensical paper was accepted only three hours later, in an email asking Bartneck to confirm his slot for the “oral presentation” at the international conference.
Further details at The Guardian.

1 comment:

  1. i use https://pdos.csail.mit.edu/archive/scigen/ SCIgen - An Automatic CS Paper Generator to write and publish all of my research papers that are published.


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