// we are

Want to See a Fake Paper?

Hello readers,

While I’m a bit (actually very) late on my review of damn-whats-its-name-again (yes, that late) Tomoyo Linux, I wanted to share a couple of things with you. As you may know, I’m currently studying in a MSc degree of Research in Computer Science (woohoo). Which implies I read papers on a regular basis, and am asked as part of my studies to summarise and present these papers.

In one of my lectures (on the management of large collections of described data), I was asked to review a survey on the performance of Meta-Search Engines. Sounded interesting… Was much more than expected!

The Paper!

So, the “paper” is named ‘‘A survey on the performance evaluation of Meta Search Engines’’. It is published in IJCSI, which seems a rather strange journal to me (see next section). The paper not only contains several critical English mistakes that make some parts of it quite hard to understand, not only has an absolutely null scientific value (just see for yourself… the conclusion is humorously void of sense, and most valid points raised by the paper are just not addressed at all). It’s not even that they reviewed search engines that don’t exist anymore, that they reviewed as a MSE a service that actually, from its editor’s website, seems to be totally something else. It’s not even that most of the information provided on all the surveyed engines is about their founders, stakeholders, etc. and not their design principles, working, etc.

No, the best part of it, really… is the fact that it contains several copy/pasted Wikipedia pages, as is. They didn’t even notice one of the pages had probably been copy/pasted itself from an editor’s website, containing a description of the engine at the first person of the plural. That’s how good they are. So, if you’re a bored researcher and are looking for a good laugh, please, read the damn paper! I’m not including a link, I don’t want this website associated in any way with that kind of work… This may sound presumptuous from a mere student whose papers were never accepted in a single journal or conference, but please check the title of the authors. Quite stupendous!

Wait, but you said it was published?

Yeah… the second funny part of it is that this thing was published in a journal… The name of the thing? ‘‘International Journal of Computer Science Issues’’. Wow, sounds slick. I’m actually not sure what to think of this journal. I’ve just never heard of it, and I definitely need to ask some of my current and former teachers about it… In the meanwhile, I’ll make myself an opinion based on their website. They seem to be quite begging for anything looking like a publication, which is understandable since they charge authors fees for each paper published. So, considering the previously cited “paper” was published, it’s most likely they don’t peer-review at all. Which means their business model must be something like getting paid to publish anything falling into their hands, regardless of what it is as long as it looks scientific.

I admit I’m too lazy to read other of their publications in order to make myself a more founded opinion, but in the meanwhile, I sent them the following message enquiring about that paper. I’m waiting for their answer, and will update this post when I get it (though not directly disclosing it, as it is forbidden by my country’s legislation).

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am contacting you in order to warn you about a possible case of partial plagiarism in the paper called “A survey on the performance evaluation of meta search engines” [0]. Indeed, this paper directly copy/pastes content from Wikipedia pages. I can hardly believe that such a paper has been reviewed at all, seeing how obviously the content in some paragraphs fits the writing style of any scientific publication. Besides, the many English mistakes as well as the lack of references and context information with regard to the only experimentation of the paper seem to indicate that this paper lacked proper peer review.

I would thus very much like to have the opinion of your ethical board on this topic.

Yours faithfully,

Steve Dodier-Lazaro

First Update

The editorial board of IJCSI answered to my email, assuring me that my claims will be verified and the paper unpublished if I were to be right. They also asked me to indicate which paragraphs were copied and from where, so I computed the alignment scores of some paragraphs with Wikipedia pages.

The paragraphs on Bing and Yahoo! Search are both above 98% of copied characters, which is quite high… I only reviewed sections 2 and 3, but section 5 is also extremely likely a copy/paste. Note that I check at least three copied sources were written prior to the article.

At least I’m happy that, regardless of the bad reviewing process and the apparent scientific quality (or lack thereof) of published papers, the IJCSI editorial seems to be motivated in tracking down and removing fake papers. Let’s see how this ends…

Second Update

Of course, a month after my message was sent, no action was taken. Surprising, huh?

Comments are totally broken on the website, so any insightful contribution you would like to make will have to transit through my mailbox!