Second update on SCIgen-generated papers
Berlin, 14 April 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.
On 27 February 2014, we posted a statement on springer.com with the facts at that point and a promise to provide further information. On 20 March 2014, we issued an update as to what we were doing to investigate the matter.
Working with Dr. Labbé
In February we reached out to Dr. Cyril Labbé, a researcher at Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France and an expert in the detection of SCIgen-generated articles for advice and collaboration. In the meantime, we have had far-reaching and exhaustive discussions with Dr. Labbé and, on 1 April 2014 a number of Springer representatives met with him in Heidelberg, Germany, to discuss the progress to date of the system implemented and currently running through the hundreds of thousands of documents on SpringerLink that have been published since the creation of the SCIgen program.
We are also pleased to announce that we will be formalizing our relationship with Dr. Labbé, who, with his team of PhD students, will work intensively with Springer on detection mechanisms for any future programs that are similar to SCIgen.
More fake papers found
A first content check on SpringerLink has flagged two more papers in addition to the 16 that were mentioned initially. Both of these papers have been retracted and retraction notices are up in their places. This means that, so far, we have found 18 fake papers across 15 conference proceedings (books) which were published between 2010 and 2014 in four proceedings book series – two in Engineering and two in Computer Science.
The SCIgen article authors
Those authors of the 18 articles that we have been in contact with have confirmed that their submissions were not intended as a hoax. The intention seems to have been to increase their publication numbers and to increase their standing in their respective disciplines and at their institutions.
There will always be individuals who try to undermine existing processes in order to benefit personally and, unfortunately, scientific publishing is not immune to fraud. We are taking this issue very seriously, and have implemented the measures below.
Additional measures taken
- More rigorous minimum requirements have been implemented and will apply to all new conference proceedings projects.
- Springer’s editorial processes for conference proceedings are being intensified, and the monitoring of the peer review process of conference proceedings manuscripts accepted for publication will be increased.
- An automatic SCIgen detection system is being integrated in Springer’s submission check system, and we will offer this system to our conference proceedings partners, who will be trained in its use.
We would like to stress that the investigation continues apace, and once it is concluded, a final report will be issued publicly.