SCIgen-generated papers in conference proceedings

Berlin | 27 February 2014

As reported in the media, on 11 February 2014 we were alerted to 16 fake submissions that were published in conference proceedings in Springer publications, mostly in computer sciences and engineering. The submissions were generated by the SCIgen computer program, which creates nonsense documents. We were alerted to this fact by Dr Cyril Labbé, a French researcher who has written an article on how to detect SCIgen-generated papers in the Springer journal Scientometrics in January 2013.

We are in the process of taking the papers down as quickly as possible. This means that they will be removed, not retracted, since they are all nonsense. A placeholder notice will be put up once the papers have been removed.

Furthermore, we are looking into our procedures to find the weakness that could allow something like this to happen, and we will adapt our processes to ensure it does not happen again.

For the moment, we are using detection programs and manpower to sift through our publications to determine if there are more SCIgen papers. We have also reached out to Dr. Labbé for advice and collaboration on how to go about this in the most effective manner.

Since we publish over 2,200 journals and 8,400 books annually, this will take some time. We are confident that, for the vast majority of the materials we publish, our processes work. When flaws are detected by us, or brought to our attention by members of the scientific community, we aim to correct them transparently and as quickly as possible.

There will always be individuals who try to undermine existing processes in order to prove a point or to benefit personally. Unfortunately, scientific publishing is not immune to fraud and mistakes, either. The peer review system is the best system we have so far and this incident will lead to additional measures on the part of Springer to strengthen it.

Read subsequent statements here and here.

Contact

Eric Merkel-Sobotta (Global)
Annika Dirks (Berlin)
Ruth Francis (London)
Alexander Brown (New York)
Renate Bayaz (Heidelberg)