Nature and Elsevier are agog and aghast that hundreds of junk papers filled with random word salad have been published in their esteemed journals.
It’s as bad as it sounds — one retracted title was: “‘Sea level height based on big data of Internet of Things and aerobics teaching in coastal areas’. “
They are shocked that scammers who were “organised” and “sophisticated” found tricks to get published — wait for it — not just by hyping up, adjusting and exaggerating their cherry-picked papers and incompetent models, but with nothing more than fake e-mails “with ‘univ’ instead of ‘uni’ and ‘-ac.uk’ instead of ‘.ac.uk’”. That’s right, the highest and most intellectual “peer review” journals in the world have such inadequate, nonexistent standards, that not only do they fail to weed out weak papers, they couldn’t even defend themselves against randomized nonsense coming from fake professors with dodgy emails.
In other words, no one who matters even reads the papers before they are published.
Indeed, no one even read the titles…
Hundreds of articles published in peer-reviewed journals are being retracted after scammers exploited the processes for publishing special issues to get poor-quality papers — sometimes consisting of complete gibberish — into established journals. In some cases, fraudsters posed as scientists and offered to guest-edit issues that they then filled with sham papers.
Elsevier is withdrawing 165 articles currently in press and plans to retract 300 more that have been published as part of 6 special issues in one of its journals, and Springer Nature is retracting 62 articles published in a special issue of one journal. The retractions come after the publishers each issued expressions of concern earlier this year, covering hundreds of articles.
Guillaume Cabanac, a computer scientist who uncovered nonsense papers, was shocked:
…it is shocking to see such papers in journals from ‘flagship’ publishers and that “it is not only predatory journals that publish bullshit”.
The papers are computer generated junk:
71 articles have abstracts or titles that contain the words ‘dance’, ‘aerobics’ or ‘sports’ in relation to geoscience, including the articles ‘Sea level height based on big data of Internet of Things and aerobics teaching in coastal areas’ and ‘Rock stress and deformation characteristics based on SVM and sports high-intensity interval training’.
And it’s all happened before — in 2014 at least 120 papers were “computer generated nonsense” and were published and later retracted. It’s emblematic of the entire academic sector really. An industry using AI to produce nothing, discover nothing, get published, and then write papers about it?
So who benefits?
But the scammers’ motivations remain a mystery to Ivan Oransky, a journalist who runs Retraction Watch. Even the article titles, which would be listed as part of an individual’s publication record, often do not make sense, he says. “The papers are so obviously terrible, so why would you want them on your CV?”
Many of the papers were from authors based at Chinese institutions, and most contained nonsensical phrases that Elsevier thinks came from the use of reverse-translation software to disguise plagiarism.
Perhaps Western professors are trying to plump out their bios with statements about “publishing 412 Nature papers” and just paid a paper-scam generator in China. But who’d really want their name on papers like these? These papers are so bad, they look like the hoax papers done purposely to expose the rot in academia.Will a team appear next week admitting the papers were faked to test the system? Or are there just too many incentives for Chinese or other academics to “publish or perish”?
Either way, Western Civilization is paying trillions of dollars to change the weather based on “The Science” according to peer review — which appears to have no more intellectual prowess than a Nigerian 419 email scam.
Peer review is anonymous and unpaid and worth every cent.
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Holly Else (2021) Scammers impersonate guest editors to get sham papers published doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-021-03035-y