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Written inPerl
Available inEnglish
TypePaper generator
LicenseGNU General Public License

SCIgen is a paper generator that uses context-free grammar to randomly generate nonsense in the form of computer science research papers. Its original data source was a collection of computer science papers downloaded from CiteSeer. All elements of the papers are formed, including graphs, diagrams, and citations. Created by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, its stated aim is "to maximize amusement, rather than coherence."[1] Originally created in 2005 to expose the lack of scrutiny of submissions to conferences, the generator subsequently became used, primarily by Chinese academics, to create large numbers of fraudulent conference submissions, leading to the retraction of 122 SCIgen generated papers and the creation of detection software to combat its use.[2]

Sample output[edit]

Opening abstract of Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy:[3]

Many physicists would agree that, had it not been for congestion control, the evaluation of web browsers might never have occurred. In fact, few hackers worldwide would disagree with the essential unification of voice-over-IP and public/private key pair. In order to solve this riddle, we confirm that SMPs can be made stochastic, cacheable, and interposable.

Prominent results[edit]

In 2005 a paper generated by SCIgen, Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy, was accepted as a non-reviewed paper to the 2005 World Multiconference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics (WMSCI) and the authors were invited to speak. The authors of SCIgen described their hoax on their website, and it soon received great publicity when picked up by Slashdot. WMSCI withdrew their invitation, but the SCIgen team went anyway, renting space in the hotel separately from the conference and delivering a series of randomly generated talks on their own "track". The organizer of these WMSCI conferences is Professor Nagib Callaos. From 2000 until 2005, the WMSCI was also sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. The IEEE stopped granting sponsorship to Callaos from 2006 to 2008.

Submitting the paper was a deliberate attempt to embarrass WMSCI, which the authors claim accepts low-quality papers and sends unsolicited requests for submissions in bulk to academics. As the SCIgen website states:

One useful purpose for such a program is to auto-generate submissions to conferences that you suspect might have very low submission standards. A prime example, which you may recognize from spam in your inbox, is SCI/IIIS and its dozens of co-located conferences (check out the very broad conference description on the WMSCI 2005 website).

— About SCIgen[4]

Computing writer Stan Kelly-Bootle noted in ACM Queue that many sentences in the "Rooter" paper were individually plausible, which he regarded as posing a problem for automated detection of hoax articles. He suggested that even human readers might be taken in by the effective use of jargon ("The pun on root/router is par for MIT-graduate humor, and at least one occurrence of methodology is mandatory") and attribute the paper's apparent incoherence to their own limited knowledge. His conclusion was that "a reliable gibberish filter requires a careful holistic review by several peer domain experts".[5]

Schlangemann [edit]

The pseudonym "Herbert Schlangemann" was used to publish fake scientific articles in international conferences that claimed to practice peer review. The name is taken from the Swedish short film Der Schlangemann.

  • In 2008, in response to a series of Call-for-Paper e-mails, SCIgen was used to generate a false scientific paper titled Towards the Simulation of E-Commerce, using "Herbert Schlangemann" as the author. The article was accepted at the 2008 International Conference on Computer Science and Software Engineering (CSSE 2008), co-sponsored by the IEEE, to be held in Wuhan, China, and the author was invited to be a session chair on grounds of his fictional Curriculum Vitae.[6] The official review comment: "This paper presents cooperative technology and classical Communication. In conclusion, the result shows that though the much-touted amphibious algorithm for the refinement of randomized algorithms is impossible, the well-known client-server algorithm for the analysis of voice-over-IP by Kumar and Raman runs in _(n) time. The authors can clearly identify important features of visualization of DHTs and analyze them insightfully. It is recommended that the authors should develop ideas more cogently, organizes them more logically, and connects them with clear transitions." The paper was available for a short time in the IEEE Xplore Database, but was then removed. The entire story is described in the official "Herbert Schlangemann" blog,[7] and it also received attention in Slashdot[8] and the German-language technology-news site Heise Online.[9][10]
  • In 2009, the same incident happened and Herbert Schlangemann's latest fake paper PlusPug: A Methodology for the Improvement of Local-Area Networks was accepted for oral presentation at the 2009 International Conference on e-Business and Information System Security (EBISS 2009), also co-sponsored by IEEE, to be held again in Wuhan, China.[7]

In all cases, the published papers were withdrawn from the conferences' proceedings, and the conference organizing committee as well as the names of the keynote speakers were removed from their websites.

List of works with notable acceptance[edit]

In conferences[edit]

  • Rob Thomas: Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy, 2005 for WMSCI (see above)
  • Mathias Uslar's paper was accepted to the IPSI-BG conference.[11]
  • Professor Genco Gulan published a paper in the 3rd International Symposium of Interactive Media Design.[12]
  • A 2013 scientometrics paper demonstrated that at least 85 SCIgen papers have been published by IEEE and Springer.[13] Over 120 SCIgen papers were removed according to this research.[14]

In journals[edit]

  • Students at Iran's Sharif University of Technology published a paper in Elsevier's Journal of Applied Mathematics and Computation.[15] The students wrote under the surname "MosallahNejad", which translates literally from Persian language (in spite of not being a traditional Persian name) as "from an Armed Breed". The paper was subsequently removed when the publishers were informed that it was a joke paper.[16]
  • Mikhail Gelfand published a translation of the "Rooter" article in the Russian-language Journal of Scientific Publications of Aspirants and Doctorants in August 2008. Gelfand was protesting against the journal, which was apparently not peer reviewed and was being used by Russian PhD candidates to publish in an "accredited" scientific journal, charging them 4000 Rubles to do so. The accreditation was revoked two weeks later.[17][18][19][20] (See Dissernet for related information.)
  • Springer Science+Business Media and IEEE were also the subject of similar pranks.

Spoofing Google Scholar and h-index calculators[edit]

Refereeing performed on behalf of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers has also been subject to criticism after fake papers were discovered in conference publications, most notably by Labbé and a researcher using the pseudonym of Schlangemann.[21][22][23][24][25][26]

Cyril Labbé from Grenoble University demonstrated the vulnerability of h-index calculations based on Google Scholar output by feeding it a large set of SCIgen-generated documents that were citing each other, effectively an academic link farm, in a 2010 paper. Using this method the author managed to rank "Ike Antkare" ahead of Albert Einstein for instance.[27]

2013 retractions[edit]

In 2013, over 122 published conference papers created by SCIgen were retracted by Springer and the IEEE, unlike previous submissions that were intended to be pranks, this submission were largely made by Chinese academics, who were using SCIgen papers to boost their publication record.[28]


In 2015, SciDetect was released by Springer. This software, developed by Cyril Labbé, is designed to automatically detect papers generated by SCIgen.[2]

2021 report[edit]

In 2021, a study was published on 243 SCIgen papers that had been published in the academic literature. They found that SCIgen papers made up 75 per million papers (< 0.01%) in information science, and that only a small fraction of the detected papers had been dealt with.[29][30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ SCIgen - An Automatic CS Paper Generator
  2. ^ a b BohannonMar. 27, John; 2015; Am, 3:00 (2015-03-27). "Hoax-detecting software spots fake papers". Science | AAAS. Retrieved 2020-09-28. Rather than being created as pranks, it seems that many of the fake papers were coming from China where they were "bought by academics and students" to pad their publication records, says the lead researcher behind the investigation, Cyril Labbé, a computer scientist at Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Stribling, Jeremy; Aguayo, Daniel; Krohn, Maxwell. "Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy" (PDF).
  4. ^ "SCIgen - An Automatic CS Paper Generator". MIT.
  5. ^ Stan Kelly-Bootle (July–August 2005). "Call that gibberish?". ACM Queue. 3 (6): 64. doi:10.1145/1080862.1080884.
  6. ^ "CSSE Conference Program" (PDF).
  7. ^ a b "The official Herbert Schlangemann Blog, The whole story behind the paper "Towards the Simulation of E-Commerce"".
  8. ^ kdawson (December 24, 2008). "Software-Generated Paper Accepted At IEEE Conference". Slashdot. VA Linux Systems Japan. Retrieved May 5, 2009.
  9. ^ Peter-Michael Ziegler (December 26, 2008). "Dr. Herbert Schlangemann - oder die Geschichte eines pseudowissenschaftlichen Nonsens-Papiers (in German)". Heise Online. Heise Zeitschriften Verlag. Retrieved May 5, 2009.
  10. ^ Heise Online webpage (in German)
  11. ^ "Mathias Uslar's paper". Archived from the original on 2009-06-15.
  12. ^ "About Genco Gulan's paper".
  13. ^ "Duplicate and Fake Publications in the Scientific Literature : How many SCIgen papers in Computer Science?" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-05-15.
  14. ^ "Publishers withdraw more than 120 gibberish papers". Nature. 24 February 2014. Retrieved 25 February 2014.
  15. ^ Rohollah Mosallahnezhad. "Cooperative, Compact Algorithms for Randomized Algorithms" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-12-29.
  16. ^ Rohollah Mosallahnezhad (2007), "REMOVED: Cooperative, compact algorithms for randomized algorithms", Applied Mathematics and Computation, doi:10.1016/j.amc.2007.03.011
  17. ^ "Mon ordinateur écrit mieux que le tien!". Agence Science-Presse (in French). Canada. 8 September 2009. Retrieved 4 October 2011.
  18. ^ "Rooter invades Russia". SCIgen. 8 January 2009. Retrieved 4 October 2011.
  19. ^ Malozemov, Sergei (7 October 2008). Группа отечественных ученых поставила эксперимент — смешала сложные термины случайным образом, а полученный текст отослала в один из научных журналов. NTV (in Russian). Retrieved 4 October 2011.
  20. ^ "Feedback". New Scientist. 15 August 2009.
  21. ^ Labbé, Cyril; Labbé, Dominique (2013). "Duplicate and fake publications in the scientific literature: how many SCIgen papers in computer science?". Scientometrics. 94 (1): 379–396. doi:10.1007/s11192-012-0781-y. S2CID 6889400.
  22. ^ Oransky, Ivan (February 24, 2014). "Springer, IEEE withdrawing more than 120 nonsense papers". Retrieved April 29, 2014.
  23. ^ de Gloucester, Paul Colin (2013). "Referees Often Miss Obvious Errors in Computer and Electronic Publications". Accountability in Research: Policies and Quality Assurance. 20 (3): 143–166. Bibcode:2013ARPQ...20..143D. doi:10.1080/08989621.2013.788379. PMID 23672521. S2CID 42975675.
  24. ^ Dawson, K. (December 23, 2008). "Software-Generated Paper Accepted At IEEE Conference". Dice. Retrieved April 29, 2014.
  25. ^ Hatta, Masayuki (December 24, 2008). "IEEEカンファレンス、自動生成のニセ論文をアクセプト". (in Japanese). OSDN Corporation. Retrieved April 29, 2014.
  26. ^ Ziegler, Peter-Michael (December 26, 2008). "Dr. Herbert Schlangemann - oder die Geschichte eines pseudowissenschaftlichen Nonsens-Papiers". (in German). Heise Zeitschriften Verlag. Retrieved April 29, 2014.
  27. ^ "Les rapports de recherche du LIG" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-05-15.
  28. ^ Van Noorden, Richard (2014). "Publishers withdraw more than 120 gibberish papers". Nature News. doi:10.1038/nature.2014.14763.
  29. ^ Cabanac, Guillaume; Labbé, Cyril (2021-05-25). "Prevalence of nonsensical algorithmically generated papers in the scientific literature". Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology. 72 (12): 1461–1476. doi:10.1002/asi.24495. ISSN 2330-1635. S2CID 236374033.
  30. ^ Noorden, Richard Van (2021-05-27). "Hundreds of gibberish papers still lurk in the scientific literature". Nature. 594 (7862): 160–161. Bibcode:2021Natur.594..160V. doi:10.1038/d41586-021-01436-7. PMID 34045760. S2CID 235232305.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]