Fabricated research papers

Holy Else writing for Nature

To get a sense of how many papers are affected, the researchers ran a search for 30 tortured phrases in journal articles indexed in the citation database Dimensions. They found more than 860 publications that included at least one of the phrases, 500 of which were published in a single journal: Microprocessors and Microsystems.

“Tortured phrases”

This is the “deep-fake moment” for academia. How can humans measure up to reams of gibberish text pumped out by algorithms. It is not new. There are tons of AI “writers and re-writers” available for WordPress that are used to create affiliate websites and drive up advertising revenue online. This represents a new low; especially for researchers from China, where I understand, is “intense” competition to scale up “publications”. The quality of research remains questionable.

To dig deeper, the group downloaded all papers published in Microprocessors and Microsystems between 2018 and 2021, a time frame they chose because an upgraded version of GPT was released in 2019. Analysis revealed that papers published after February 2021 had an acceptance time that was five times shorter, on average, than those published before that date.

A high proportion of these papers came from authors in China.

And a subset of papers had identical submission, revision and acceptance dates, the majority of which appeared in special issues of the journal. This is suspicious, the authors say. Unlike standard issues, overseen by the editor-in-chief, special issues are usually proposed and overseen by a guest editor, and focus on a specific area of research.

(emphjasis mine)

The journal is published by Elsevier. There’s a clarification from the journal:

A spokesperson for Elsevier told Nature in a statement that the Microprocessors and Microsystems investigation has found that the authors probably used reverse-translation software to disguise plagiarism, and that this is the likely source of the tortured phrases.

There is no word around the retractions. As there is no law against the “misinformation”, the quality of research will always remain suspect. Academia needs to clean up its act collectively.

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