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Peer review: The Simpsons’ gang from TV get themselves a journal paper

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From Vox:

A scientific study by Maggie Simpson, Edna Krabappel, and Kim Jong Fun has been accepted by two journals.

Of course, none of these fictional characters actually wrote the paper, titled “Fuzzy, Homogeneous Configurations.” Rather, it’s a nonsensical text, submitted by engineer Alex Smolyanitsky in an effort to expose a pair of scientific journals — the Journal of Computational Intelligence and Electronic Systems and the comic sans-loving Aperito Journal of NanoScience Technology.

These outlets both belong to a world of predatory journals that spam thousands of scientists, offering to publish their work — whatever it is — for a fee, without actually conducting peer review. When Smolyanitsky was contacted by them, he submitted the paper, which has a totally incoherent, science-esque text written by SCIgen, a random text generator. (Example sentence: “we removed a 8-petabyte tape drive from our peer-to-peer cluster to prove provably “fuzzy” symmetries’s influence on the work of Japanese mad scientist Karthik Lakshminarayanan.”)

Doh!

Laudable goal that, to expose predatory journals. But—as the Vox article also goes on to note—name not-for-profit journals have been scammed by fakery too.

The rot runs deep. We need sophisticated solutions, not cheerleaders waving pom poms in our faces for “science.”

So, in addition to the valuable information in the Vox piece, we recommend making a regular stop at Retraction Watch (to which, hat tip for this lead). RTWatch features provide excellent reads for, er, keeping up on the down side of science.

Note: News blogging will be light for some hours today, as O’Leary for News is working off site on another story.

One Reply to “Peer review: The Simpsons’ gang from TV get themselves a journal paper

  1. 1
    Silver Asiatic says:

    The rot runs deep. We need sophisticated solutions, not cheerleaders waving pom poms in our faces for “science.”

    It’s an honorable goal – getting real solutions and cleaning up the rot.

    I’m tempted to be cynical. Ok, I’ll try to put it in more positive terms. Evolutionary biologists, apparently, are needed for something. Somebody wants to pay them and other people want to read what they have to say. I get quite a lot of amusement from them myself, and it would be a loss if we no longer had their papers to discuss here on UD.

    If peer-review standards were improved, it might mean less publication by evolutionary theorists. Plus, SCIgen would no longer be funny because nobody would recognize the parody.

    It’s like the novels of Dan Brown. Somebody (actually millions of people) want to read them. If tastes ever improved, we’d lose these hilarious parodies:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/cul.....Brown.html

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