Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Fake Conferences News

More Fake and Predatory Conferences
John Leicester Williams(The University of Memphis Björn) and Thrandur Björnsson (University of Gothenburg) reported in some blog some fake, bogus, predatory conferences:
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Tuesday, 14 February 2017

IEEE and Elsevier withdraw more than 120 gibberish papers

IEEE and Elsevier  withdraw more than 120 gibberish papers

Conference proceedings removed from subscription databases after scientist reveals that they were computer-generated.

by Richard Van Noorden (Read:

The publishers Springer and IEEE are removing more than 120 papers from their subscription services after a French researcher discovered that the works were computer-generated nonsense.

Over the past two years, computer scientist Cyril Labbé of Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France, has catalogued computer-generated papers that made it into more than 30 published conference proceedings between 2008 and 2013. Sixteen appeared in publications by Springer, which is headquartered in Heidelberg, Germany, and more than 100 were published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), based in New York. Both publishers, which were privately informed by Labbé, say that they are now removing the papers.

Among the works were, for example, a paper published as a proceeding from the 2013 International Conference on Quality, Reliability, Risk, Maintenance, and Safety Engineering, held in Chengdu, China. (The conference website says that all manuscripts are “reviewed for merits and contents”.) The authors of the paper, entitled ‘TIC: a methodology for the construction of e-commerce’, write in the abstract that they “concentrate our efforts on disproving that spreadsheets can be made knowledge-based, empathic, and compact”. (Nature News has attempted to contact the conference organizers and named authors of the paper but received no reply*; however at least some of the names belong to real people. The IEEE has now removed the paper).

*Update: One of the named authors replied to Nature News on 25 February. He said that he first learned of the article when conference organizers notified his university in December 2013; and that he does not know why he was a listed co-author on the paper. "The matter is being looked into by the related investigators," he said.

How to create a nonsense paper

Labbé developed a way to automatically detect manuscripts composed by a piece of software called SCIgen, which randomly combines strings of words to produce fake computer-science papers. SCIgen was invented in 2005 by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge to prove that conferences would accept meaningless papers — and, as they put it, “to maximize amusement” (see ‘Computer conference welcomes gobbledegook paper’). A related program generates random physics manuscript titles on the satirical website arXiv vs. snarXiv. SCIgen is free to download and use, and it is unclear how many people have done so, or for what purposes. SCIgen’s output has occasionally popped up at conferences, when researchers have submitted nonsense papers and then revealed the trick.

Labbé does not know why the papers were submitted — or even if the authors were aware of them. Most of the conferences took place in China, and most of the fake papers have authors with Chinese affiliations. Labbé has emailed editors and authors named in many of the papers and related conferences but received scant replies; one editor said that he did not work as a program chair at a particular conference, even though he was named as doing so, and another author claimed his paper was submitted on purpose to test out a conference, but did not respond on follow-up. Nature has not heard anything from a few enquiries. 

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“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.

“The papers are quite easy to spot,” says Labbé, who has built awebsite where users can test whether papers have been created using SCIgen. His detection technique, described in a study1published in Scientometrics in 2012, involves searching for characteristic vocabulary generated by SCIgen. Shortly before that paper was published, Labbé informed the IEEE of 85 fake papers he had found. Monika Stickel, director of corporate communications at IEEE, says that the publisher “took immediate action to remove the papers” and “refined our processes to prevent papers not meeting our standards from being published in the future”. In December 2013, Labbé informed the IEEE of another batch of apparent SCIgen articles he had found. Last week, those were also taken down, but the web pages for the removed articles give no explanation for their absence.

Ruth Francis, UK head of communications at Springer, says that the company has contacted editors, and is trying to contact authors, about the issues surrounding the articles that are coming down. The relevant conference proceedings were peer reviewed, she confirms — making it more mystifying that the papers were accepted.

The IEEE would not say, however, whether it had contacted the authors or editors of the suspected SCIgen papers, or whether submissions for the relevant conferences were supposed to be peer reviewed. “We continue to follow strict governance guidelines for evaluating IEEE conferences and publications,” Stickel said.

A long history of fakes

Labbé is no stranger to fake studies. In April 2010, he used SCIgen to generate 102 fake papers by a fictional author called Ike Antkare [see pdf]. Labbé showed how easy it was to add these fake papers to the Google Scholar database, boosting Ike Antkare’s h-index, a measure of published output, to 94 — at the time, making Antkare the world's 21st most highly cited scientist. Last year, researchers at the University of Granada, Spain, added to Labbé’s work, boosting their own citation scores in Google Scholar by uploading six fake papers with long lists to their own previous work2.

Labbé says that the latest discovery is merely one symptom of a “spamming war started at the heart of science” in which researchers feel pressured to rush out papers to publish as much as possible.

There is a long history of journalists and researchers getting spoof papers accepted in conferences or by journals to reveal weaknesses in academic quality controls — from a fake paper published by physicist Alan Sokal of New York University in the journal Social Text in 1996, to a sting operation by US reporter John Bohannon published in Science in 2013, in which he got more than 150 open-access journals to accept a deliberately flawed study for publication.

Labbé emphasizes that the nonsense computer science papers all appeared in subscription offerings. In his view, there is little evidence that open-access publishers — which charge fees to publish manuscripts — necessarily have less stringent peer review than subscription publishers.

Labbé adds that the nonsense papers were easy to detect using his tools, much like the plagiarism checkers that many publishers already employ. But because he could not automatically download all papers from the subscription databases, he cannot be sure that he has spotted every SCIgen-generated paper.

Nature doi:10.1038/nature.2014.14763 
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Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Journal retracts paper due to image mismatch; one co-author alleges fraud

Journal retracts paper due to image mismatch; one co-author alleges fraudSee:
Researchers have retracted a biology paper that included an image mismatch — despite the fact that, as they claim, another image in the same paper confirms the original findings.
The authors say they plan to resubmit the paper with the corrected figure panel.
The second to last author — Carlo Croce, chair of the department of cancer biology and genetics at The Ohio State University — told us he believes there’s more to the retraction than what the notice says. Specifically, he said that the paper includes an image from a previous paper by the same authors, which he called “fraud.”
Here’s the latest retraction notice, published in Cell Death and Differentiation:

The Editors have agreed to retract the above article in Cell Death and Differentiation (2010) 17, 1908–1916, due to the use of a mismatched image in control lanes of Figure 2c However, the authors wish to note that the results reported in Figure 2c have been reported and confirmed in Figure 2f of the same manuscript. The authors are convinced of the reproducibility of the data presented, which will be resubmitted for publication using the correct panel for Figure 2c. The authors apologize to the scientific community for any inconveniences caused.
The 2010 paper, “c-FLIPL enhances anti-apoptotic Akt functions by modulation of Gsk3β activity,” has been cited 14 times.
The paper has been discussed on PubPeer, with one user suggesting the figure panel in question — 2c —resembles another figure panel in a 2008 paper by some of the same authors.
That’s the main problem with the paper, Croce told us:
After the senior author informed the other authors including me of the problem, I looked at the paper in [Cell Death & Differentiation] and the previous paper in Plos One. There is no doubt that a piece of a figure of the Plos One paper ended up in a figure of the CDD paper. I would call it fraud!!
The newly retracted paper and the 2008 PLOS ONE paper — “Akt Regulates Drug-Induced Cell Death through Bcl-w Downregulation” — share a same first author, Cristina Quintavalle, also listed at ‘Federico II’ University of Naples in Italy. According to her ResearchGate profile, she is now based at Universitätsspital Basel. We were unable to find contact information for Quintavalle.
We’ve contacted the last author on both papers, Gerolama Condorelli — also of ‘Federico II’ University of Naples in Italy — for more information.
This isn’t Croce’s first retraction we’ve covered — last year, he asked a Nature journal to retract a News & Views he wrote, claiming the publisher tried to censor him by asking to remove passages that criticized another journal. He’s also co-authored multiple papers with Alfredo Fusco, a cancer researcher in Italy who has nine retractions under his belt. Fusco is undergoing a criminal investigation for scientific misconduct.
Several papers by Croce and Fusco are being questioned on PubPeer.
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Jeffrey Beall’s blog was shut down for unknown reasons

It has come to our attention that Jeffrey Beall’s blog ( was shut down for unknown reasons. It could be due to lawsuit of US government or simply someone might have hacked it. Whatever it is, his attempt and movement, in general, have been questioned by leading scholars around the world (see previous posts on this blog) and his personal views and opinion are not favored anymore.
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