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Publishers Withdraw More Than 120 Gibberish Conference Proceedings

Update Date: Mar 01, 2014 03:43 PM EST

Springer and IEEE - two leading publishers - are withdrawing more than 120 papers from their subscription services after a researcher found those works were computer generated nonsense. 

Cyril Labbé a computer scientist of Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France, catalogued computer generated papers that appeared into more than 30 published conference proceedings between 2008 and 2013. Labbe´ then developed a technique that would automatically detect manuscripts composed by a piece of software called SCIgen. The software combines a string of words to produce fake computer-science papers. 

In 2005, SCIgen was invented by the researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge for the purpose of proving that conferences would accept meaningless papers. SCIgen is free to use and download and the answer to the question how many people have used it remains unclear. 

"I wasn't aware of the scale of the problem, but I knew it definitely happens. We do get occasional e-mails from good citizens letting us know where SCIgen papers show up," says Jeremy Stribling, who co-wrote SCIgen when he was at MIT and now works at VMware, a software company in Palo Alto, California, according to Scientific American

According to Labbe,"the papers are quite easy to spot." He has also created a website where users can test whether the papers have been written using SCIgen. His detection technique is described at length in the Scientometrics in 2012.

A detailed report has been published in the journal Nature

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