Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Annals of Balderdash

Some academic and scientific papers read like incomprehensible babble, as though their authors randomly plucked erudite jargon and squashed it together into a sandwich with citations and graphs, and then some papers are quite literally just that.

More than 120 papers consisting of computer-generated balderdash were published by the Springer and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, and the publishers now are trying to expunge all that babble, Nature reports.

Computer scientist Cyril Labbé at Joseph Fourier University sleuthed out the nonsense papers, and has previously discovered computer generated articles in more than 30 published conference proceedings over a five-year period.

These papers were created by a piece of software called SCIgen, an MIT-borne program that fits chains of words together at random specifically to produce fake computer science papers. SCIgen's creators wanted to prove that conferences will publish meaningless papers.

Labbé has found a way to identify these articles by searching for specific words that SCIgen puts together, and he has created a website where you can test whether or not a paper is a SCIgen creation.

It is unclear why the papers were created and submitted, or whether the 'authors' listed actually know about them, Nature's Richard van Noorden writes.

As Retraction Watch sees it, the discovery can be viewed as "the ying to the yang" of a recent sting of open-access publishers that ran in Science late last year, in which a fake academic managed to get over 150 papers accepted at more than 300 journals.

Retraction Watch points out that the dumping of these 120 drivel papers could lead 2014 to be "another record-breaking year" for academic retractions.