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So much for ‘peer review’ — Wiley shuts down 19 science journals and retracts 11,000 gobbledygook papers

So much for “peer review” — Wiley shuts down 19 science journals and retracts 11,000 gobbledygook papers

By Jo Nova

Proving that unpaid anonymous review is worth every cent, the 217 year old Wiley science publisher “peer reviewed” 11,300 papers that were fake, and didn’t even notice. It’s not just a scam, it’s an industry. Naked “gobbledygook sandwiches” got past peer review, and the expert reviewers didn’t so much as blink.

Big Government and Big Money has captured science and strangled it. The more money they pour in, the worse it gets. John Wiley and Sons is a US $2 billion dollar machine, but they got used by criminal gangs to launder fake “science” as something real.

Things are so bad, fake scientists pay professional cheating services who use AI to create papers and torture the words so they look “original”. Thus a paper on  ‘breast cancer’ becomes a discovery about “bosom peril” and a ‘naïve Bayes’ classifier became a ‘gullible Bayes’. An ant colony was labeled an ‘underground creepy crawly state’.

And what do we make of the flag to clamor ratio? Well, old fashioned scientists might call it ‘signal to noise’. The nonsense never ends.

A ‘random forest’ is not always the same thing as an ‘irregular backwoods’ or an ‘arbitrary timberland’ — especially if you’re writing a paper on machine learning and decision trees.

The most shocking thing is that no human brain even ran a late-night Friday-eye over the words before they passed the hallowed peer review and entered the sacred halls of scientific literature. Even a wine-soaked third year undergrad on work experience would surely have raised an eyebrow when local average energy became “territorial normal vitality”. And when a random value became an ‘irregular esteem’. Let me just generate some irregular esteem for you in Python?

If there was such a thing as scientific stand-up comedy, we could get plenty of material, not by asking ChatGPT to be funny, but by asking it to cheat. Where else could you talk about a mean square mistake?

Wiley — a mega publisher of science articles has admitted that 19 journals are so worthless, thanks to potential fraud, that they have to close them down. And the industry is now developing AI tools to catch the AI fakes (makes you feel all warm inside?)

Flood of Fake Science Forces Multiple Journal Closures tainted by fraud


By Nidhi Subbaraman, May 14, 2024

Fake studies have flooded the publishers of top scientific journals, leading to thousands of retractions and millions of dollars in lost revenue. The biggest hit has come to Wiley, a 217-year-old publisher based in Hoboken, N.J., which Tuesday will announce that it is closing 19 journals, some of which were infected by large-scale research fraud.

In the past two years, Wiley has retracted more than 11,300 papers that appeared compromised, according to a spokesperson, and closed four journals. It isn’t alone: At least two other publishers have retracted hundreds of suspect papers each. Several others have pulled smaller clusters of bad papers.

Although this large-scale fraud represents a small percentage of submissions to journals, it threatens the legitimacy of the nearly $30 billion academic publishing industry and the credibility of science as a whole.

Scientific papers typically include citations that acknowledge work that informed the research, but the suspect papers included lists of irrelevant references. Multiple papers included technical-sounding passages inserted midway through, what Bishop called an “AI gobbledygook sandwich.” Nearly identical contact emails in one cluster of studies were all registered to a university in China where few if any of the authors were based. It appeared that all came from the same source.

One of those tools, the “Problematic Paper Screener,” run by Guillaume Cabanac, a computer-science researcher who studies scholarly publishing at the Université Toulouse III-Paul Sabatier in France, scans the breadth of the published literature, some 130 million papers, looking for a range of red flags including “tortured phrases.”

Cabanac and his colleagues realized that researchers who wanted to avoid plagiarism detectors had swapped out key scientific terms for synonyms from automatic text generators, leading to comically misfit phrases. “Breast cancer” became “bosom peril”; “fluid dynamics” became “gooey stream”; “artificial intelligence” became “counterfeit consciousness.” The tool is publicly available.

Generative AI has just handed them a winning lottery ticket,” Eggleton of IOP Publishing said. “They can do it really cheap, at scale, and the detection methods are not where we need them to be. I can only see that challenge increasing.”

The ABC in Australia even wrote about this, but only because it worries about the loss of public faith in its pet universities:

For the ABC, peer review is like the Bible, and universities are the Church. The public must believe!

So the ABC makes excuses… Oh! Those poor poor universities, forced to become billion dollar businesses selling defacto Australian-citizenships to children of rich Chinese families.  If only they got more money, their Vice Chancellors wouldn’t have to make do with million dollar salaries, and punishing professors who pointed out fraud, and they’d have time to do research and prevent the fraud instead.

Wiley’s ‘fake science’ scandal is just the latest chapter in a broader crisis of trust universities must address

By Linton Besser, ABC News

It [the Wiley debacle] also illustrates what is just another front in a much broader crisis of trust confronting universities and scientific institutions worldwide.

For decades now, teaching standards and academic integrity have been under siege at universities which, bereft of public funding, have turned to the very lucrative business of selling degrees to international students.

Grappling with pupils whose English is inadequate, tertiary institutions have become accustomed to routine cheating and plagiarism scandals. Another fraud perfected by the internet age.

This infection — the commodification of scholarship, the industrialisation of cheating — has now spread to the heart of scientific, higher research.

With careers defined by the lustre of their peer-reviewed titles, researchers the world over are under enormous pressure to publish.

Suffer the researchers who are forced to pay for fake papers just so they can “do their job”? Sack the lot.

The ABC is part of the reason science is corrupt to the core. The ABC Science Unit is paid to hold junk-science’s feet to the fire, instead it provides cover for the pagan witchcraft that passes for modern research.

The rot at Wiley started decades ago, but it got caught when it spent US $298 million on an Egyptian publishing house called Hindawi. We could say we hope no babies were hurt by fake papers but we know bad science already kills people. What we need are not “peer reviewed” papers but actual live face to face debate. Only when the best of both sides have to answer questions, with the data will we get real science:

In March, it revealed to the NYSE a $US9 million ($13.5 million) plunge in research revenue after being forced to “pause” the publication of so-called “special issue” journals by its Hindawi imprint, which it had acquired in 2021 for US$298 million ($450 million).

Its statement noted the Hindawi program, which comprised some 250 journals, had been “suspended temporarily due to the presence in certain special issues of compromised articles”.

Many of these suspect papers purported to be serious medical studies, including examinations of drug resistance in newborns with pneumonia and the value of MRI scans in the diagnosis of early liver disease. The journals involved included Disease Markers, BioMed Research International and Computational Intelligence and Neuroscience.

The problem is only becoming more urgent. The recent explosion of artificial intelligence raises the stakes even further. A researcher at University College London recently found more than 1 per cent of all scientific articles published last year, some 60,000 papers, were likely written by a computer.

In some sectors, it’s worse. Almost one out of every five computer science papers published in the past four years may not have been written by humans.

Even if one in five computer science papers are written by computers, this is just the tip of the iceberg of the rot at the core of “peer reviewed research”. The real rot is not the minor fraudsters making papers that no one reads to pad out their curriculum vitae. It’s the institutional parasites taking billions from taxpayers to create modeled garbage to justify the theft of trillions. But that’s another story.

PS: Who knew, academic journals were a $30 billion dollar industry?