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Romanian Science Journal Punked By Serbian Academics 95

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the groundbreaking-research dept.
schwit1 writes "A group of Serbian academics, disgusted with the poor state of their country's research output, have scammed a Romanian science journal by getting it to accept their completely fabricated hoax article. From the article: 'The paper is replete with transparent gimmicks — obvious, that is, had anyone at the publication been paying attention — including a reference to the scholarship of [singer Michael] Jackson, Weber, [porn star Ron] Jeremy and citations to new studies by Bernoulli and Laplace, both dead more than 180 years (Weber died in 1920). They also throw in references to the "Journal of Modern Illogical Studies," which to the best of our knowledge does not and never has existed (although perhaps it should), and to a researcher named, dubiously, "A.S. Hole." And, we hasten to add, the noted Kazakh polymath B. Sagdiyev, otherwise known as Borat.' Their paper is hilarious and completely ridiculous, and yet it was published in a so-called serious journal without question. The best part is that they list Alan Sokal's hoax paper from 1996 as one of their sources."
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Romanian Science Journal Punked By Serbian Academics

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  • Great idea! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Narcocide (102829) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @05:09AM (#44932179) Homepage

    Disgusted with the poor state of Serbia's research output, I will now also scam a Romanian science journal.

    • by Chrisq (894406)

      Disgusted with the poor state of Serbia's research output, I will now also scam a Romanian science journal.

      Sounds like a cunning plan.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Disgusted with the poor state of Serbia's research output, I will now also scam a Romanian science journal.

        Sounds like a cunning plan.

        Yes, now Serbia can be proud of not publishing such rubbish. If you can't do well yourself make sure someone else does worse

        • Re:Great idea! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @06:04AM (#44932379)

          Disgusted with the poor state of Serbia's research output, I will now also scam a Romanian science journal.

          Sounds like a cunning plan.

          Yes, now Serbia can be proud of not publishing such rubbish. If you can't do well yourself make sure someone else does worse

          The entire point of this stunt obviously fell 20 feet short in your mind(s). I suppose you all fail to see the larger issue here with them being able to get away with this, as I now have to question every process to publish a paper in every country, as I'm willing to bet most review processes are just as pathetic. In fact, I'd love someone to pay this group to exercise this test on a global scale just to prove how much "published" papers have a hell of a lot more to do with revenue than they do results.

          In that way, this reminds me of Amazon product reviews. The difference is we're not using Amazon reviews to create laws and legalize products.

          • Re:Great idea! (Score:5, Interesting)

            by zmooc (33175) <zmooc@z m o o c.net> on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @07:46AM (#44932725) Homepage

            as I now have to question every process to publish a paper in every country

            Since when does papers being published have any value? I suggest not trusting reviews based solely on them being done by popular entities such as "scientific" journals. Instead, get advice from experts and think for yourself. See what experts think, not what a commercial entity that earns money by publishing stuff thinks.

            There should not be a place "scientific" journals in modern science. They have no added value whatsoever and in fact harm free sharing of knowledge and information. It's not 1956 anymore - all scientific papers could easily be made available in a free open standardized way. The same goes for reviews. The scientific world failing to get this right is utterly sad.

            Even if this scientific journal would have refused to publish this specific hoax, why would we need them? What's added value do they provide?

            • by sjames (1099)

              There should not be a place "scientific" journals in modern science. They have no added value whatsoever and in fact harm free sharing of knowledge and information. It's not 1956 anymore - all scientific papers could easily be made available in a free open standardized way. The same goes for reviews. The scientific world failing to get this right is utterly sad.

              And we know the journals provide no value because of original research such as the subject of TFA. At one time there was value as it provided some assurance that the papers had been reviewed for quality.

            • Re:Great idea! (Score:4, Insightful)

              by jwdb (526327) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @10:20AM (#44934719)

              They have no added value whatsoever

              I've just had a paper accepted in a journal, and the multiple reviews it went through distinctly improved the quality of the paper. The idea remained the same, but my explanation could have been better, and multiple emails with the reviewer discussing if it was correct helped me improve and refine it. *Maybe* I would have gotten that from an open access database as well, but the added value of a reputable journal is that they can't get away with publishing poor and sloppy work.

            • by Lamps (2770487)

              Since when does papers being published have any value? I suggest not trusting reviews based solely on them being done by popular entities such as "scientific" journals. Instead, get advice from experts and think for yourself. See what experts think, not what a commercial entity that earns money by publishing stuff thinks.

              There should not be a place "scientific" journals in modern science. They have no added value whatsoever and in fact harm free sharing of knowledge and information. It's not 1956 anymore - all scientific papers could easily be made available in a free open standardized way. The same goes for reviews. The scientific world failing to get this right is utterly sad.

              Journals facilitate peer reviews by people with doctorates who specialize in a topic related to the paper you submit. Does a person fitting those criteria qualify as an "expert" by your definition? These academics/experts/specialists, along with the journal's editor, offer extensive critiques of your paper, often several pages long. A paper often goes through a few rounds of reviews, and often ends up a significantly stronger work with each iteration. Journals also provide a copy-editor who can perform a va

              • Re:Great idea! (Score:5, Insightful)

                by binarstu (720435) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @01:19PM (#44938075)

                If I had any mod points to give, I'd mod the parent up.

                The GP states,

                There should not be a place "scientific" journals in modern science. They have no added value whatsoever and in fact harm free sharing of knowledge and information.

                Anybody who makes that claim has no real grasp of how science works. Science journals have come under fire for a variety of reasons in recent years, but the peer review process that is central to scientific publishing is why journals are so important. And I am using "journal" in the broadest sense to include open-access, online-only publications. As long as they include quality peer review, they are science journals.

                As others have pointed out, the process of taking a paper through peer review often leads to substantial improvements to the original manuscript or reveals shortcomings that must be addressed before the work can be published. And, most of the time, it keeps the really bad work from ever being published at all. Is the process perfect? Of course not. But an anecdotal case of spectacular failure by an obscure mettalurgy journal does not mean the whole concept is worthless. It merely means that journal is bad. The peer-review process is the best method we have for ensuring the quality of scientific work, and without it (and the journals that provide the structure for it), scientific progress would be greatly hindered. Until we come up with a better way to filter the good from the bad, journals will remain an essential part of science.

                • The GP states,

                  There should not be a place "scientific" journals in modern science. They have no added value whatsoever and in fact harm free sharing of knowledge and information.

                  Anybody who makes that claim has no real grasp of how science works. Science journals have come under fire for a variety of reasons in recent years, but the peer review process that is central to scientific publishing is why journals are so important.

                  THIS.

                  What bothers me the most is that whenever something, and I mean anything, has problems, some people must shill about throwing it all out. Don't fix it, or even figure out whether the problem is real or not. Just post that it all should get torn down. Ahhh... self-satisfaction.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by chihowa (366380)

              The point of scientific journals is not so much the publication as it is the peer review process. Peer review is important to establish that the experimental methodology and conclusions drawn are well controlled and sound. That's something you don't get with non-peer reviewed self-published papers (and if you've read many of them, it really shows sometimes).

              Of course, the publishers of these journals, as demonstrated in the article, seem to think that the publication is the important part and obviously care

              • by Darinbob (1142669)

                Yup, the whole problem is that there are some bad journals. That does not mean that the concept of journals is bad or that self publishing will improve science.

                That said, I am tempted to submit the Time Cube theory to that Romanian journal.

          • by Lamps (2770487)

            I now have to question every process to publish a paper in every country, as I'm willing to bet most review processes are just as pathetic.

            I take it you've never had the pleasure of publishing a scientific paper. You should really go ahead and try to confirm your theory by publishing a paper in a journal with a reasonable impact factor - if you manage to do so, the results themselves would be worthy of publication.

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        A plan so cunning you could pin a tail on it and call it a weasel!

    • Re:Great idea! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by X.25 (255792) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @05:53AM (#44932353)

      Disgusted with the poor state of Serbia's research output, I will now also scam a Romanian science journal.

      Do you even understand what the story is there?

      This "science journal" has nothing to do with science, they just print anything people pay them to print and call themselves a 'science journal'. This is how various 'scientists' meet their publishing quota.

      By simply publishing shit in a "science journal", they keep their (state funded) privileges.

      3 rebellious guys were tired of watching all those corrupted mediocres get away with it, so they managed to get complete nonsense published in this 'science journal' in order to prove that works published in this piece of shit have no value.

      Things like this have been done for quite some time now, in many countries. There are quite few journals like this.

      Sadly, probably nothing will change.

      • by Laxator2 (973549) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @06:23AM (#44932439)

        Please check this out:

        http://pdos.csail.mit.edu/scigen/ [mit.edu]

        This is a random paper generator, and its output has been accepted at a conference.
        There are plenty of low-quality conferences and publications.

        • To be fair, quite a few conferences are nothing more than somebody's trying to take your money. I get emails all the time with subjects like "Call for Papers for the Third International Symposium on ." If you submit a paper (or read the fine print), they'll inform you that at least one author must pay to attend the conference or they won't include it in the proceedings. There is, of course, no peer review; every submitted article is accepted, just so long as you pay them.
        • by mikael (484)

          And the commercial version allows you to automatically file patents.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        The other way of looking at it is that much valuable research takes more than 1 year to complete, so releasing X papers per year is not realistic for many scientists. Hence the stream of bullshit filler until their real work produces interesting results.

    • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @07:20AM (#44932631)

      Disgusted with the poor state of Serbia's research output, I will now also scam a Romanian science journal.

      Great. Now even scientific activism has been balkanized.

      • Disgusted with the poor state of Serbia's research output, I will now also scam a Romanian science journal.

        Great. Now even scientific activism has been balkanized.

        I'm pretty sure that the Balkans have been balkanized more or less forever, by the standards of human history.

    • by Andrewkov (140579)

      Great success!!

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @05:12AM (#44932197)
    The "Journal of Modern Illogical Studies" does exist, it's just called slashdot.
    • ...which they also list under references. Or at least it used to exist from 1974 until its cancellation in 2001.

      It was a comic book magazine featuring stories with Disney characters.

      [18] Silja, P. Pronalazac. "Odgovoran zadatak". in M. Meraklija,T. Luftika (eds.) Mikijev zabavnik, no. 1233 pp. 19-21, 2000.

      They referenced Goofy and Gyro Gearloose.

      • After tracking down that particular issue, I've found out that the referenced story is Gyro-less.
        It's a Goofy only story.

        So even their fake reference is referencing fake authors.

    • by mikael (484)

      It's the sister publication to the Schroedinger Journal on Uncertainty. You have to order a copy and wait for it to arrive before you can open the delivery box and find out whether it really exists or not.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "Finally, we give interestingly looking results of a study and show how they could be presented in a visually appealing way."

  • I for one (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cripkd (709136)
    As a Romanian I'd like this to become "a thing".
    Everyone disgusted by their country's research output should scam a Romanian journal. Or, even better, it doesn't even have to be related to science, it can be about everything. And it doesn't have to be a journal, you can all come here and shout it in the public square.
    We can become a stage for anyone who wants to express disgust about everything.
    • by Thanshin (1188877) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @05:38AM (#44932307)

      Everyone disgusted by their country's research output should scam a Romanian journal. Or, even better, it doesn't even have to be related to science, it can be about everything. And it doesn't have to be a journal, you can all come here and shout it in the public square.

      I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to Romania, open a window, stick your head out and yell - 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!

  • Where to start (Score:1, Insightful)

    by oldhack (1037484)
    Serbs are mad at their science establishment so they go off and ridicule Romanians? What, them East Europeans all the same?!
  • The obvious giveaway is the lack equations. Regardless of how aloof the reviewers are to pop culture references, the lack of equations should have forewarned a lack of solid results.
  • I'm not surprised (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The state of current science publishing is rather appalling in general. I review for various conferences and journals in CS (not bad ones), and I can tell you that papers are often accepted based on author names and affiliations, and not on their contents. I can imagine that in a marginal journal in a small country the standards are even lower.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The biggest problem are the reviewers that prefer to judge a paper on interest (read hype) rather than technical soundness. Probably because they are lazy and reading the abstract to judge on interest is much less time consuming than judging it on technical soundness. That's what gets arsenic in DNA papers published in Science.

  • Is this real? (Metallurgia International's web site appears to be gone, so there's no direct proof).

    Surely even the worst kind of journal would ask that the Error! Reference source not found broken cross-references be fixed?

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      Is this real? (Metallurgia International's web site appears to be gone, so there's no direct proof).

      It used to exist, yes [googleusercontent.com]... as for being real or surreal, I can't say.

  • by fantomas (94850) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @05:44AM (#44932319)

    Poor slashdot article summary, the In Serbia magazine explains more clearly why this was done: the authors did it to ridicule the "hyperproduction of quasi-scientific works by Serbian professors that are published in the magazines of dubious quality" - they are having a pop at Serbian professors knocking out poor quality rubbish with more concern for volume than quality, and to where ever they can get them published. That said, I'd say this implies there's some definitive criticism at the low editorial quality of the Romanian publication for taking the article without identifying it as a hoax, and probably some commentary on the pressures of being a Serbian academic, looks like their universities or national funding bodies put them under pressure to produce volume and don't look too carefully at the quality when deciding how to fund their researchers.

    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @05:53AM (#44932351) Journal
      That makes sense. I get a couple of 'call for papers' emails a day from dubious journals, often with such broad titles as 'The Journal of Modern Research', so it would be completely impossible for them to rate articles. The research establishment in the UK has tried quite hard over the last decade to counter this 'publish loads of crap' incentive. The old Research Assessment Exercise and the new Research Excellence Framework by which departments are assessed requires a small number (about one per year) of 'research outputs'. These can be high-impact papers, books, and so on, and in computer science can include things like published open source software (which counts as technology transfer if you can point to people using it).
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      The number of "researchers" across the globe has increased by an order of magnitude in the last few decades.

      The amount of useful research done has not.

      What do you think is being done by most people...?

      Academia is something venerated only by people not in academia, who like to be associated with it. And sometimes by the younger, less secure people in academia who are not yet experienced enough to question the quality of their own work, let alone others' (this isn't a criticism - it's a standard problem of yo

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      What I recall from my years in a post-Soviet Ukrainian university is a system that works like this. You need to publish N papers and a thesis to get your PhD, then publish M books and a thesis to get your Dr Math / whatever degree, then curate enough students, publish some more books and play some politics to become a Professor. All of this to increase your salary from $200/mo to $300/mo. All this work is judged purely on quantity. There are good scientists that also do something meaningful in parallel, and
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This clearly has nothing to do with being "disgusted with the poor state of their country's research output". Had this really been their intention, they would have published in a Serb science journal, not a Romanian one. Though in a small country like Serbia that would have likely been a career suicide.

    That said, and having now read the links (hey at least I read them), the following is a more accurate description and should have been in the summary instead: "The professors, otherwise experts in the area of

  • Publish or Perish! (Score:5, Informative)

    by physics101 (1031738) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @06:05AM (#44932383)

    In order to get a better bang for their dollar, Serbian government made some radical changes regarding the pay grades of researchers in state universities and institutes. The most important metrics is now the number of publications in the high impact factor journals.

    In principle, the idea is not terribly bad. Academic success is being measured by some quantitative objective criteria.

    Unfortunately, in practice the system is far from ideal. The problem begins with "impact factor". Too many journals are gaming the system. This is a global international phenomenon.

    Upon the introduction of the new system, few unscrupulous Serbian researchers began exploiting the obvious loophole. Namely, there are tons of journals worldwide, who will happily take one's money and publish whatever junk one sends. For whatever reason they carry high impact factor [wikipedia.org]. Few of these "scientists" built entire carriers using this shameful practice.

    The prank has been widely publicized in Serbian news outlets and more than served its purpose.

  • by dltaylor (7510) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @06:54AM (#44932543)
  • by canadiannomad (1745008) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @09:16AM (#44933389) Homepage

    I know this is /. ....
    but you really should take a few peeks at the paper. It made me laugh :)

    Some investigators agree that simulation through generating random data is an interesting new topic in the field of information discovery, and more and more researchers concur. On the sceptic side, many scientists would agree that, had it not been for the necessity of providing meaningful results, many of existing solutions would be self-sufficient, and, sensing this, we set to show that randomness is indeed often used as an opportunistic “golden standard” of appositeness to further recycle the subject at hand.

  • Do your beloved academic friend a prank: ask him/her to review the paper without a previous warning about the scam and see the outcome :-)
  • As always, Hitler parody has the best and most accurate explanation http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3eeeGvWr-8 [youtube.com] Hitler finds out that Metalurgia International has been debunked.

A motion to adjourn is always in order.

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