120 computer-generated gobblygook research papers got published in scholarly journals

A researcher in France, Cyril Labbe, found a slight problem with some 120 papers that were published either by Springer or the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE).

The thing is, the “papers” were all computer-generated fakes.

The papers were made with software that creates random official-looking research papers on various topics in the computer sciences. The software, called SCIgen, produces nonsense results that are presented in correct format, and often have accompanying tables and graphs. References for the “paper” are also included.

This software was developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (of course).

And not only did the papers make their ways into various research journals, but 30 of the research papers made their way into various conferences as well.

Springer and IEEE are now in the process of withdrawing those papers. Fraud in scientific papers is not new, but seems to be gradually increasing. This, however, is a huge number to have been released at the same time. We will have to read papers more skeptically in the future.

Just to show you how these “papers” can be created, I generated several “written” by some very famous authors. Here are the intros of each article, then at the bottom of the page I include an entire “research paper” that the computer generated, so you can see what the entire thing looks like. It’s a pretty amazing fake.

Fake paper 1



Fake Paper 2



Fake Paper 3



Fake Paper 4



Fake Paper 5



Fake Paper 6



Fake Paper 7


And here’s one of the fake research papers in its entirety – check out the footnotes, they’re particularly good.

Mark Thoma, MD, is a physician who did his residency in internal medicine. Mark has a long history of social activism, and was an early technogeek, and science junkie, after evolving through his nerd phase. Favorite quote: “The most exciting phrase to hear in science... is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!) but 'That's funny.'” - Isaac Asimov

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