November 1, 2018

DEF CON 26 - Svea, Suggy, Till - Inside the Fake Science Factory

"Fake News has got a sidekick and it's called Fake Science. This talk presents the findings and methodology from a team of investigative journalists, hackers and data scientists who delved into the parallel universe of fraudulent pseudo-academic conferences and journals; Fake science factories, twilight companies whose sole purpose is to give studies an air of scientific credibility while cashing in on millions of dollars in the process. Until recently, these fake science factories have remained relatively under the radar, with few outside of academia aware of their presence; but the highly profitable industry is growing significantly and with it, so are the implications. To the public, fake science is indistinguishable from legitimate science, which is facing similar accusations itself. Our findings highlight the prevalence of the pseudo-academic conferences, journals and publications and the damage they can and are doing to society. "

July 26, 2018

New international investigation tackles ‘fake science’ and its poisonous effects - ICIJ

Hundreds of thousands of scientists worldwide have published studies in self-described scientific journals that don’t provide traditional checks for accuracy and quality, according to a new journalistic investigation.
Dozens of reporters from media outlets in Europe, Asia and the United States have analysed 175,000 scientific articles published by five of the world’s largest pseudo-scientific platforms including India-based Omics Publishing Group and the Turkey-based World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, or Waset.  In addition to failing to perform peer or editorial committee reviews of articles, the companies charge to publish articles, accept papers by employees of pharmaceutical and other companies as well as by climate-change skeptics promoting questionable theories.
Some of those publishers send targeted emails to scientists who are under pressure to publish as many articles as possible in order to obtain promotions and improve their curriculum, according to the findings by Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR), WDR and Süddeutsche Zeitung.
In addition to the German outlets, a group of more than a dozen media organizations including the New Yorker, Le Monde, the Indian Express and the Korean outlet Newstapa took part in the investigation. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists facilitated the collaboration.
Although the existence of these internet-based pseudo-scientific journals is not new and has been warned against by universities and research institutions, its recent rapid growth — with the number of publications put out by the top publishers tripling since 2013 and involving some 400,000 scientists – set off alarms among former Nobel Prize winners.
The credibility of science is at stake, said U.S. physician Ferid Murad, the 1998 winner of the prize in physiology or medicine. Randy Schekman, a U.S. cell biologist who was among the 2013 winners of the Nobel prize, said that he was horrified that scientists were publishing in such journals. “This kind of thing has to be stopped,” said Robert Huber of Munich, who was awarded the prize in 1988. “If there is a system behind it, and there are people who aren’t just duped by it but who take advantage of it, then it has to be shut down,” said Stefan Hell, a Nobel laureate in chemistry.
Those journals contribute to the production and dissemination of “fake science” by failing to uphold basic standards of quality control, the report said. In Germany alone, more than 5,000 scientists — including those supported by public funding — have published their articles in such predatory journals, which have been increasing for the past five years.
While those journals’ publishers claimed that a panel of scientists is in charge of verifying the accuracy of the papers, the investigation showed that articles are published within a few days of submission without any vetting process.
In one case, an article in the Journal of Integrative Oncology stated that a clinical study had shown the extract of propolis, a secretion that bees use to glue hives together, was more effective than chemotherapy in treating colorectal cancer. The study was fake and the authors were affiliated with a research center that doesn’t exist, Le Monde reported.
After the journalists questioned the journal about those findings, the article was deleted but an archived version is still available online.
Omics, which published the journal in question, claims to have published over 1 million articles and is currently being investigated by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for alleged fraudulent claims, according to the Indian Express. A spokesman has denied any wrongdoing and defended the integrity of its publications.
Reporters from the media outlets involved in the investigation successfully published numerous non-scientific papers with the publishers whose practices they were examining and also participated in several of their conferences.

July 1, 2016

Plagiarism scandal hits Turkish academia - Hürriyet Daily News

Some 34 percent of academic theses in Turkey have high plagiarism rates, according to a report by the Education Policy Research and Application Center (BEPAM) of Istanbul’s Boğaziçi University. 
In its study on the “quality of academic writing,” BEPAM examined 600 theses in total, including 470 master’s theses and 130 doctoral theses written between 2007 and 2016, daily Cumhuriyet reported.  
Some 477 of these theses were written in public universities, 123 were in private universities, 89 were written in English and 511 were written in Turkish. The researchers used the “Turnitin” plagiarism program and similarity index to examine the theses selected. 
The study revealed “heavy plagiarism” in 34 percent of the theses. The rate was 46 percent in private universities and 31 percent in public universities. 
Meanwhile, in a similarity index that indicates whether scientific studies are “original,” Turkey’s average was found to be 28.5 percent, compared to a world average of 15 percent. This similarity index rate was 24 percent in English theses and 29 percent in Turkish ones. It was 28 percent in public universities and 31 percent in private universities, showing that theses written in public universities are in a slightly better condition than those written in private universities. 
The initial aim of the BEPAM study was not to examine plagiarism rates, but the high number of plagiarized theses led researchers to look more closely. 
The number of plagiarized studies in public universities was 150 (31 percent) and 57 (46 percent) in private universities. This number was 173 (36 percent) in master’s theses and 34 (26 percent) in doctoral theses. It was 25 (28 percent) in English theses and 182 (35 percent) in Turkish ones. 
Institutions such as Boğaziçi University, the Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) and Bilkent University provide education in English, and seem to be in a relatively better condition in terms of plagiarism and similarity. 
‘Serious ethical issue’ 
Researcher Dr. Ziya Toprak, who conducted the study, said the results showed that many Turkish students “do not know how to write theses,” while academics do not know how to teach thesis writing. 
Toprak noted that there are no Academic Writing Centers at any university in Turkey that see writing as a primary instrument of knowledge production.
“Unfortunately there are serious ethical issues in our country. Certainly, there are many who unknowingly plagiarize. The findings of the research focus mainly on the theses that have high levels of plagiarism, so clearly plagiarism is at serious levels. We are not talking about a few lines or a paragraph. It was done deliberately, indicating a serious ethical issue,” he said.

February 9, 2016


Our precious Press, 
According to the information stated in the press recently, Higher Education Council (Yüksek Öğretim Kurulu (YÖK)) abdicates its duty to investigate plagiarism and scientific fraud (*). Either it abdicates or continues to share its authorization with the universities as they’ve done so far, it doesn’t matter, indeed. However, it has been proven with the experiences so far that Higher Education Council tends to cover up its own academicians’ scientific corruption with the ‘don’t let it go out of this room’ mentality.
On the other hand, Higher Education Council encourages the attempts of plagiarism by ignoring them so far (**) (***).
Although the situation is desperate in terms of both HEC and universities, that Higher Education Council fades from the scene passing the buck to the universities and trying to make a law meaning ‘don’t mix me with this work’ threatens that the future of science ethics will be even worse.
Instead of suggesting an objective (x independent) scientific investigation and inspection method to prevent scientific theft, Higher Education Council tries to say ‘may each university cover up its plagiarism on his own’ by declaring that they will abdicate its duty to investigate this.
Whether Higher Education Council abdicates investigating scientific fraud or it continues to take responsibility with the universities, scientific malpractice will continue to be ignored and therefore increase rapidly unless an objective National Science Ethics Council (NSEC) is founded.

Provided that it will protect and supervise of science ethics in the basis of universal science ethics norms, an independent National Science Ethics Council should be founded which will serve as an academic honour council and will work with special methods apart from the scope of authority of universities and Higher Education Institute which focuses on ignoring. Higher Education Council should keep “plagiarism and scientific fraud crimes” separate (x and independent of the investigation of these crimes), while transferring its authorization about discipline regulations, with a law which they are trying to make, to the universities and Higher Education Council should transfer investigating these crimes to the independent ‘NATIONAL SCIENCE ETHICS COMMITTE’ which will be founded, not to the universities.
Universities, other research institutes and Higher Education Council should only be responsible for implementing the decisions taken by this new council NSEC. It should be arranged as a legal arrangement about how this kind of new council will occur, working procedures, what the actions and sanctions, which are against the scientific ethics, are and more importantly, what kind of responsibilities Higher Education Council and the directors of universities will have, while performing this new council's decisions with a consensus of universities, academics’ organizations and Science Academy. Scientific fraud can only be prevented with such an independent formation in earnest.

Emeritus Prof. Dr. Kayhan KANTARLI 

All Academics Association (TÜMÖD) / Representative of Izmir



(**) as it can be seen in the archive section of the most reliable portal on plagiarism
( of our country, it has been published 402 essays and news about scientific fraud and plagiarism in the last decade and almost all of them are being criticized and condemned due to the irresponsibility of Higher Education Council and the universities which focuses on cover up. Only in 2007, there had been 82 news and articles regarding to plagiarism which academics got involved in and most of their names were stated clearly. This internet portal shows that plagiarism is still very common in the universities. There are numerous people who has the title as professor, associate professor, assistant professor, research assistant involved in these lots of plagiarism cases and there have not been any obstacles for those to be appointed to the academic and administrative services.

(***) Also see

November 25, 2015

200 South Korean Professors Charged in Massive Plagiarism Scam - TIME

Some 200 professors from up to 50 universities are implicated.
South Korea is set to indict 200 professors from several of the country’s universities for alleged copyright violations after they republished books by other authors under their own names, the Korea Herald newspaper reported Wednesday.
Professors from 50 universities, as well as four employees of a publishing company, are implicated in the scandal, Korean prosecutors said, with most of them having already confessing their involvement.
The professors’ actions were reportedly done in a bid to boost their academic standing before rehiring-related assessments. The Herald also reported that many of the original authors were also complicit in the scheme for fear of invoking the publishers’ displeasure over future book deals.
If found guilty, the accused will likely face immediate dismissal as well as up to five years in prison and fines equivalent to over $43,000.
[Korea Herald]

May 27, 2015

Fluid mechanics article retracted with no explanation - Retraction Watch

An article published earlier this year has been retracted from the Journal of Heat Transfer. But the retraction notice gives no information about what was amiss.
The article is entitled “Neural Network Methodology for Modeling Heat Transfer in Wake Flow,” and the retraction notice, in full, reads:
The above referenced paper is being retracted from the Journal of Heat Transfer.
We are unable to find a copy of the article online, despite the fact that the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) recommends leaving retracted articles available online.
We contacted the manager of journals for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the journal’s publisher (who is listed as the author of the retraction), as well as the journal’s editor, but have received no reply. We also reached out to the first and last authors, located at university engineering departments in Turkey and Bahrain, who we were able to identify in a listing on a Chinese library search engine. We’ll circle back if anyone responds with more information.
The article has not been cited.

December 11, 2014

Breaking news and analysis from the world of science policy : Study of massive preprint archive hints at the geography of plagiarism - ScienceInsider

New analyses of the hundreds of thousands of technical manuscripts submitted to arXiv, the repository of digital preprint articles, are offering some intriguing insights into the consequences—and geography—of scientific plagiarism. It appears that copying text from other papers is more common in some nations than others, but the outcome is generally the same for authors who copy extensively: Their papers don’t get cited much.
Since its founding in 1991, arXiv has become the world's largest venue for sharing findings in physics, math, and other mathematical fields. It publishes hundreds of papers daily and is fast approaching its millionth submission. Anyone can send in a paper, and submissions don’t get full peer review. However, the papers do go through a quality-control process. The final check is a computer program that compares the paper's text with the text of every other paper already published on arXiv. The goal is to flag papers that have a high likelihood of having plagiarized published work.
"Text overlap" is the technical term, and sometimes it turns out to be innocent. For example, a review article might quote generously from a paper the author cites, or the author might recycle and slightly update sentences from their own previous work. The arXiv plagiarism detector gives such papers a pass. "It's a fairly sophisticated machine learning logistic classifier," says arXiv founder Paul Ginsparg, a physicist at Cornell University. "It has special ways of detecting block quotes, italicized text, text in quotation marks, as well statements of mathematical theorems, to avoid false positives."
Only when there is no obvious reason for an author to have copied significant chunks of text from already published work—particularly if that previous work is not cited and has no overlap in authorship—does the software affix a “flag” to the article, including links to the papers from which it has text overlap. That standard “is much more lenient" than those used by most scientific journals, Ginsparg says.
To explore some of the consequences of "text reuse," Ginsparg and Cornell physics Ph.D. student Daniel Citron compared the text from each of the 757,000 articles submitted to arXiv between 1991 and 2012. The headline from that study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) is that the more text a paper poaches from already published work, the less frequently that paper tends to be cited. (The full paper is also available for free on arXiv.) It also found that text reuse is surprisingly common. After filtering out review articles and legitimate quoting, about one in 16 arXiv authors were found to have copied long phrases and sentences from their own previously published work that add up to about the same amount of text as this entire article. More worryingly, about one out of every 1000 of the submitting authors copied the equivalent of a paragraph's worth of text from other people's papers without citing them.
So where in the world is all this text reuse happening? Conspicuously missing from the PNAS paper is a global map of potential plagiarism. Whenever an author submits a paper to arXiv, the author declares his or her country of residence. So it should be possible to reveal which countries have the highest proportion of plagiarists. The reason no map was included, Ginsparg told ScienceInsider, is that all the text overlap detected in their study is not necessarily plagiarism.
Ginsparg did agree, however, to share arXiv’s flagging data with ScienceInsider. Since 1 August 2011, when arXiv began systematically flagging for text overlap, 106,262 authors from 151 nations have submitted a total of 301,759 articles. (Each paper can have many more co-authors.) Overall, 3.2% (9591) of the papers were flagged. It's not just papers submitted en masse by a few bad apples, either. Those flagged papers came from 6% (6737) of the submitting authors. Put another way, one out of every 16 researchers who have submitted a paper to arXiv since August 2011 has been flagged by the plagiarism detector at least once.
The map above, prepared by ScienceInsider, takes a conservative approach. It shows only the incidence of flagged authors for the 57 nations with at least 100 submitted papers, to minimize distortion from small sample sizes. (In Ethiopia, for example, there are only three submitting authors and two of them have been flagged.)
Researchers from countries that submit the lion's share of arXiv papers—the United States, Canada, and a small number of industrialized countries in Europe and Asia—tend to plagiarize less often than researchers elsewhere. For example, more than 20% (38 of 186) of authors who submitted papers from Bulgaria were flagged, more than eight times the proportion from New Zealand (five of 207). In Japan, about 6% (269 of 4759) of submitting authors were flagged, compared with over 15% (164 out of 1054) from Iran.
Such disparities may be due in part to different academic cultures, Ginsparg and Citron say in their PNAS study. They chalk up scientific plagiarism to "differences in academic infrastructure and mentoring, or incentives that emphasize quantity of publication over quality."
*Correction, 11 December, 4:57 p.m.:  The map has been corrected to reflect current national boundaries.


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