>Seems like an impressive conference, and getting a paper published in this conference should be a big achievement on any student’s resume, right?
No, absolutely not. Looking at the web site immediately raises two red flags:
1) It's a multi-topic conference. Usually these fall into two categories: Undergrad conferences and money-making scams. Participating in neither of them is "a big achievement"
2) The submission deadline is 9 days before the conference starts and three days before the registrations deadline. This would give them 2-3 days for the peer review process? That's is close to impossible.
Original author here. The two things you pointed out were exactly the two things that first caused me to get suspicious of this conference.
However, as notthetup points out, there are lots of people in the Indian education system who don't know this. And the statement I made: Seems like an impressive conference, and getting a paper published in this conference should be a big achievement on any student’s resume, right? is actually something many students and faculty in our engineering colleges actually think.
This must be corruption at work. It's unrealistic to demand that Master's level students have two good quality published papers. There's no research benefit in publishing poor quality papers. So the reason must be fake prestige or scamming money. Keep spreading the word about this. If you embarrass your authorities (especially amongst the wider International scientific community), then things will change.
My only feedback would be that to communicate to non-Indians, you need to make it clear early on that this is a widespread problem that students can't avoid because of the pressure to publish. On first reading your post I thought you were just upset about a single fake conference - which didn't seem like big news to me.
This is definitely important, since I had the same impression and was a bit suprised how you could be that angry about a single conference.
Btw, is it also a requirement for students in India to send out a specific number of applications? I get a lot of phd position applications from indian students as response to my publications. They look like mass emails and are usually absolutely unrelated to the field.
Thanks. I've updated the intro of the post to make this clearer.
The PhD applications problem is a different issue. We're churning out a million engineers every year, and a good fraction of them are convinced that getting into a Masters/PhD program in the US is the gateway to riches and a better life. A few of these students are smart enough to know where to apply and how to apply, but most of them are clueless enough to actually spam any faculty email addresses they can find from any US university. And yes, they're mass emails, in the sense that they send out these mails to 10s of people without bothering to customize them.
The important thing to remember is that India is a vast and varied country. We have the worst students, but we also have the best students - so don't completely ignore all emails from all Indian sounding names; one of them might just be from the next superstar at your school :-)
Well, I do agree that students can have different quality, and we shouldn't discriminate Indian students. But the problem is that enough Indian students have made bad reputation for all Indian students here (U.S), and to avoid future loss (time and effort of the faculties), we just start to reject any Indian students (at least in my own circle).
I know that this is a problem, and I don't blame you.
However, one of the admissions committee members of a top-10 US university told me how they deal with this problem.
That they keep track of good universities in India, and what GPA is considered good in India. Occasionally, they take a chance with a student with an interesting resume from an unknown University, and continue selecting from there if that student does well. Repeat this process, and over time they end up with a good list of sources of good students from India; and they ignore applications from all other Indians.
Have you tried putting a test in your CV web page? For example, "I welcome inquiries from prospective students. I get a lot of advertising email, so include the phrase 'brown M&Ms' in the subject line so I will know you are a real person." That should weed out a lot of the email blast applicants.
As an academic myself, we get spam emails advertising conferences just like this. It is not an achievement (of any sort), and what you're doing poorly represents both the academic system, and yourself.
Well I mean.... calm down, this was done as an experiment by the author to see what kind of corrupt shakedown his students were being run through.
These things need to be tested in order to improve the academic system. Otherwise the misinformation continues (in the form of some actually believing the claims of peer review etc.) and people may be duped by a paper that is seemingly innocuous but where the research is faked.
I know that getting a paper in a conference like this is not an achievement. However, I know lots of students who do not know this. I know faculty in Engineering colleges who do not know this. I know many people who actually pay money to get published in such conferences because they really believe it's an achievement.
Hence, this expose to improve awareness.
I am not sure how I have poorly represented the academic system and myself by doing that, so could you elaborate?
I think the real point of this article is that it's not realistic to expect every one of these students to have two high-quality published papers as a graduation requirement. This leads to and fuels the bogus conferences.
You should never submit any work to a conference or journal you do not know and follow beforehand.
To be more explicit: a good rule of thumb is that if you are not familiar with the publications of at least some of the committee or, if you were asked to suggest reviewers for you research out of the scientific committee members, you'd be hard pressed to name a few, you should not submit anything.
Your students should know that. If none explained something similar to the above, then you should have.
As you get older, I find I only follow 1-2 quality publications. I often get invited to dubious / shady conferences and I just hit the spam button. All of my peers do the same.
Why shouldn't you submit to such a conference? Because you don't know if it's legit or not?
I don't think the students care if it's legit or not. They care about getting papers published so they can graduate. And apparently their schools don't care if the conferences are legit or not either. So everyone is happy, we all win!
heh i know u were. i get what youre saying here but my issue with that is it just leads to like watered-down pseudo-journals of questionable reputation.
it almost feels like a better alternative would be for the students to run their own informal conferences & publish through an open publishing network (a lot of these are emerging in academia to subvert all the licensing BS from the journals)
What the OP has done certainly does present a poor representation of the academic system, as a corrupt shakedown system that's milking students for easy cash. Is this incorrect? No. As you said, we get spam emails for conferences like this -- but if students think it's a requirement to publish in order to graduate, why not answer that spam?
Corruption is a huge factor in academic publishing, which relatively well-off and well-connected academics in the UK and US may not realize. A lot of countries trying to increase the visibility and prestige of their academic programs have stupid publishing quotas set by bureaucrats that make less-connected or less-knowledgeable academics ripe targets for these scams. Even in Italy, an EU country with a long academic history in mathematics, rules put in place to combat nepotism favor publication rates that are at best simply orthogonal to measuring the quality of a mathematician's output. India has tons of new colleges and universities and many young academics trying to prove themselves, as well as a recent influx of state funding. The OP's post is an important expose of some of the shenanigans occurring in this new ecosystem.
I think it is the job of the advisor of the student to guide him in the choice of conferences to go to or journals to publish in. He should know the truly important ones in his field, and be able to make a judgment of the quality of a conference or journal based on familiarity with the work of the organizers/editors and other participants.
Everybody can put up a conference web page: It is completely hopeless to expect to be able judge the quality of a conference by what they claim on their web page, as the scam ones will be the ones boasting with their internationality and prestige, while the actually prestigious have no need to do so. The same goes for journals. I regularly get "calls for papers" from scammy journals that claim to be world class journals, but which are essentially a money making scheme (usually using some open access author pays model).
Of course, I agree with you that the requirement of having your bachelor's or master's thesis published is idiotic, and driving students into to be victims of these scams. The universities need to stop this practice, and the advisors need to guide the students who have something that is truly worth publishing in their choice of venue.
That explains how hollow is the pride of M. Tech teachers in our country who pat their own backs about their papers getting published. So many research papers are just crap and add nothing to the existing knowledge.
Tell me something, is this true for Ph. D. as well? Because that would feel like an opener against people proudly wearing "Dr." in their titles.
Reminds me of when Alan Sokal wrote a paper full of buzzwords and co-opted scientific language and name-dropping then submitted it to a prestigious cultural studies journal . Thesis: quantum gravity is merely a social and linguistic construct.
The humanities are still trying to recover from that one.
> The humanities are still trying to recover from that one.
In much the same way that 'science' is still recovering from prestigious journals publishing results that mysteriously fail to replicate and software engineering is still recovering from the fact that there are 85 randomly generated papers published by the IEEE, yes.
The second paper references the Sokal Affair, as a matter of fact - the authors of the paper are from the (obviously fake) "Sokal Institute of Technology, Pune". :)
In fact, it references verbatim dialogues from "My Cousin Vinny", "Sholay" (a superhit Bollywood film), the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the author's wife and her movie-review website and whole lot of other nonsense. :(
The sting was pretty controversial though as they seemed to want to use this evidence to discredit open access publishing rather than to say this is a problem with academia in general. Open access is catching on in the biological sciences (http://biorxiv.org/) and big journals like nature or science are afraid of losing money.
You can argue that they are a natural response to the academic publishing culture where the sole metric of success is the number of papers you publish.
I could not understand why such a journal would exist and why people would publish papers in this. I did not know that having conference papers/journal publications was now a requirement for B.Tech/M.Tech. degrees in India. It wasn't so when I got mine - or maybe just my Institute did not go in for such ridiculous requirements.
Existence of such conferences and Journals is a direct and predictable outcome of such a requirement. Vast majority of Undergrad/Grad students in India earn a degree not because of interest or even ability in their chosen fields, but by knowing how to beat badly drafted exams. If you force these people to "publish", it is just another hurdle to pass, mostly by paying a few thousand Rs. The requirement for "industrial training" during summer has been bypassed the same way for ages.
Edit: To other fellow Indians here: Do you know if there is a regulatory body one can approach against such scammy conferences and journals? I understand that such bodies tend to not be at all willing to help, but I'd still like to pursue this matter. Failing this, maybe we should put together a list of such journals and conferences and have these sent out to colleges and universities as a way to blacklist them?
Maybe there should be merit given to people that self-select themselves to be the 'mystery shoppers' of the academic world.
Perhaps you could get a job where the deciding factor to hire you rather than someone else was your ability to get x papers of utter nonsense in academic journals/conferences. If you think about it there are people doing this already...
I think its more about filling pockets by charging registration fees. One should try out for only IEEE conferences although it is not necessary but "International" in the title really does not make a conference "International"
One of my old professors used to joke that "for every paper, there is a conference that accepts it." Unfortunately this is somewhat literally true. This isn't unique to any one country as the SCIgen successes demonstrate and I don't really see a solution to it.
Of course there are regional IEEE conferences. But in general, the international IEEE conferences and journals by the bigger societies are probably the best ones out there.
I have published quite a bit in the physical sciences/engineering field and in my experience the IEEE journals have a far better peer review process than AIP, ACS, Elsevier and even NPG. The same goes for the conferences.
What makes a conference good isn't the IEEE label but rather the reputation of the conference itself and its corresponding ability to attract a high quality program committee.
The important point here is that there isn't a shortcut to evaluating conference quality. You have to know your field, know who is worth listening to and who isn't, know what the top conferences are, what the mediocre conferences are and so forth. If a new conference springs up, you need to be able to judge whether to pay attention by looking at the PC.
> Of course there are regional IEEE conferences. But in general, the international IEEE conferences and journals by the bigger societies are probably the best ones out there.
And a "regional" conference doesn't mean it's a bad conference. DATE (http://www.date-conference.com/) is probably the second best design automation conference behind DAC. ASPDAC, ATVA, APLAS, FSTTCS are some well-regarded regional conferences and there are plenty more like these. Not all of these are IEEE sponsored either.
> I have published quite a bit in the physical sciences/engineering field and in my experience the IEEE journals have a far better peer review process than AIP, ACS, Elsevier and even NPG. The same goes for the conferences.
I'm not trying to slight IEEE here. I looked through my publication list and it turns out all my papers are in IEEE conferences and journals! But on the other hand, a few of them could easily have ended up in a venue like CAV and this wouldn't magically make them worse papers.
The key point here I want to make here is this: there is no substitute for knowing your field, if you're judging conference quality by the IEEE label, you're doing something wrong.
I used to think if it's IEEE or ACM, they are ok (not good) to publish. Nowadays, I am not so sure after seeing a bunch of low quality "international" conferences in Asian especially in India. ACM seems a little better than IEEE...
Now my rule is to only publish in conferences that I know or are well known in the field....
Aslo reject any requests to serve as a TPC or reviewer for conferences from this region..The papers are normally low quality and waste of my time to read...
I mentor undergrads on research projects and this toxic environment hurts them. Every undergrad who comes to me wants to paper, and most believe they can do it in a few months while school is running. Often it ends in some kind of pleas to publish any paper no matter how poor quality the journal.
Why is this bad?
Poor research work damages for other reasons, but the mindset hurts the students. In research we often need to choose between doing an learning. If you start by doing you will never learn enough to make a meaningful contribution or come up with something original. These kids want to do work without learning anything.
India, probably, has the worst system that labels people as educated. Personally, college has been a complete waste of time and I have seen many such incidents. At college, I learnt how to get alongwith people. Nothing else is on offer.
This isn't news. There are plenty of poor quality conferences and publications willing to take your money and publish without checking.
Even the good quality conferences send out batches of papers to be reviewed and then the reviewers forward them to their students and colleagues without properly checking the feedback before passing them back to the section chairs. Just be thankful that you didn't have a good quality paper rejected due to a bad review by a tired PhD student who didn't have enough experience in the field to be a reviewer.
The OP blames the education system for putting pressure on students to publish. The problem is more like not teaching the students how to find a reputable path to publication and not weighing the quality of the venue.
He/she should also be complaining to iraj.in for hosting the dodgy conference website and lending credibility to it.
> The problem is more like not teaching the students how to find a reputable path to publication and not weighing the quality of the venue.
Actually, in my opinion, most of the students couldn't care less about publications. They just want their degree, but the system refuses to let them have it without the publication. Hence they're forced to publish at conferences that publish without checking.
The problem is indeed with the system that requires publications, and then accepts publications in dodgy conferences. What else can be expected of the students in this situation?
Predatory publishing does exist, but its damage is mitigated by the fact that papers are judged primarily on the reputation of the journal or publication they're in. That is, an academic in a given field will know all the highest-tier journal titles, and have a good knowledge of mid and lower tiers -- new or obscure titles will always draw scepticism.
Previous blogs or reports with the same conclusions:
The second paper in the post should never have made it past any peer-reviewer had they bothered to read the first two paragraphs.
It all stems from the (supposedly optional) requirement that a Masters' level student get a paper published. Sure, it is somewhat justified - seeing as how they are partially research students themselves - but the absence of a honest and thorough peer-review kinda puts paid to the justification. As a result, most students end up opting for these pay-to-publish scams (sometimes even knowingly) and they continue to thrive.
The aim of the whole exercise was to expose these conferences for what they really are - money-making scams that prey upon the students' desperation. What hurts is the fact that the students (probably) knew about it but they were so desperate to get a publication, they couldn't care less. Such is the state of the education system in India. :(
What depressed me the most was seeing the poor, sincere students who had come to the conference to present. Some of them were tweaking their PPTs. Others were going over notes for their talk. They were clearly (I think) under the impression that presenting at this conference was a major achievement. Of the 22 papers accepted by the conference (i.e. 22 people paid to get their papers published), only about 10 came to present, which leads me to suspect that the remaining 12 knew the true nature of this conference.
Nope. If you can't afford to pay for the conference, your paper does not get published at all (of the two papers I got accepted, I paid for one and that appeared, while the one I did not pay for did not appear). And once you pay, then actually attending the conference is optional.
The education system in India is unimaginably worse. 57 out 60 students who completed Btech IT(aka Software Engineering) in my batch didn't knew even to a write a program to check if a number is palindrome or not.
I had opted for a micro controller elective in a semester. We were only 6 guys in the whole class who did that. I discovered I was pretty good in Assembly language programming(8085) so it made more sense to study and work on that further.
The remain class opted for C++, on the day of the exam I was chatting with a girl as to well she had prepared. She tells she had prepared everything apart from classes(Note this is a C++ exam). I lost all appetite to continue the discussion further.
On a tangential note my cousin is in his 3rd semester currently. He tells me he did bulk of the engineering drawing my merely copy pasting CAD projects from seniors. And tells that's how nearly every one in his class is doing it.
I only imagine how this works at things like Medical courses. Do these kids really seriously study, or is our life all left to chance as to how much syllabus a person covered to score passing marks in the MBBS exams? Or how little they had to simply memorize to just claim qualifying marks to get a degree?
It really hurt the non-Indians in my American university's MEng program that all the Indians (about 80% of my department) worked collaboratively on all the homework, projects, and exams. Culturally, this had been acceptable for them as Indian undergrads, but it was completely unacceptable cheating in the US and ruined the curve for the rest of the students.
I would like to confirm this. In undergrad I felt like foreign students come to US and ruin our education system. Which is a weird feeling when you weren''t born in the US. But I think this is a subject for another thread.
As long as the participants were keen and serious, the conference still performed a function, as a useful practicum experience for them, and maybe even some learning and sharing got done.
It can be seen as a betrayal of trust to inject nonsense into the proceedings. Like somebody sneaking into the locker room of a ball team in uniform, going on the field and fooling around. "See, the players are not really good! I'm a fool and I got out here!"
Just representing the other side of the coin here. Just because its not prestigious, doesn't means its entirely worthless.
I don't know how conferences work but isn't it the purpose of a conference to discuss a certain paper? Aren't sessions planned in which a paper is taken and dissected? I can very well imagine that papers like this would be quickly discovered and discredited. Sure, it may not happen before the conference starts but at some point either before or after everybody sits down to discuss the paper it should be glaringly obvious.
> isn't it the purpose of a conference to discuss a certain paper?
No. The purpose of a conference  is to have researchers present their results. The timing guidelines for a typical conference talk would look like: 15 minutes for the talk, 5 minutes for questions and comments, and 5 minutes for setting up the next talk. As you can imagine, this doesn't give much time for discussions; dissecting a paper is not part of the agenda. The questions and comments raised in the 5-minute period after the talk usually are along the lines of "Do you think your approach will work for this other problem?", rather than "Can you explain how this step in the argument works?". If you have a question of the latter kind, then you are supposed to discuss it with the author offline, so that the conference schedule is not affected. The conference does not provide you with a forum to discuss papers at any depth.
 All of this pertains to Theoretical Computer Science conferences; I suspect conferences in other fields are similar, but I don't know for sure.
Right. In fact, in my opinion, the most important thing a conference provides is the quality of the peer-review and the selection process. So a conference that claims peer-review, but does not provide it, is really taking your money and not providing value for it.
Most conferences are supposed to have a selection process (in most cases a "peer review" process) in which all submissions are sent to multiple reviewers who are experts in that area, and only papers which are deemed "acceptable" by a majority of the reviewers are published. Usually this means that the paper should be relevant to the conference, should have results that are worth publishing, and should have something new - something that hasn't been done before.
All of this is supposed to happen before the paper is accepted for publication. The proceedings of top conferences in most fields are, in my opinion, more important than the actual conference itself.
While writing supplements for the Common App, I can't help but consider automated essay writing in the context of college applications. The questions are, for the most part, generic and repetitive - one decent A.I. could probably disrupt the entire process.
They claimed that they accepted almost half. My guess is that they accepted 100% of the submissions they received. Because if there was any process for rejection, both my papers should have been rejected.
Almost half is effectively the same as 100%. You're buying a credential. It's like paying $350 for a weekend project management certification that has no test, and then complaining that you didn't learn anything.
Yes, technically they're lying. Yes, technically it should be a higher standard.
But if it's an obvious scam, it's silly to get so angry that you can't see or write straight. Sure it's worth sharing to the world that there are scam artists out there, but to get so worked up about it?
Actually, I did not get worked up about the existence of such conferences. My main gripe is against the education system and the ridiculous requirement that makes it mandatory for all post-graduate students to have 2 published papers before they are granted their degree. Given the current state of research and higher education in India, the inevitable result of this requirement would be that students will be forced to pay to publish at such conferences.
could it be possible that there are many scentific papers written by phd and masters which are simply garbage?
All this time I thought, "but these guys are smart, they went and got phd and masters and their thesis sounds really intriguing", but reading through the paper, absolutely nothing is presented but just words for the sake of filling up space?
Also papers that seems to skew their quantitative results, multiple papers claiming higher success rates than the previous while in small letters acknowledging crucial items that distort the results.
Am I crazy for thinking I am making this up in my head?
p.s. is there a way to get access to scientific papers without paying $24 each time or a subscription fee? google scholar is good but some of the papers really insist on you paying. I thought knowledge was supposed to be free!
That doesn't mean that the majority of masters/PhD papers aren't scientific and intellectual achievements the likes of which aren't often found outside academia or the upper echelons of industry (nobody else can justify the risk profile of academic research). It also doesn't mean that the aggregate value of the results is small.
Many/most papers present useless (to society) results that only appear meaningful when viewed in a very narrow light. Again, that's not really a problem: just like the startup world, science has a very low yield of very high value results. Scope-narrowing is actually a method which allows us to avoid unjustly punishing legitimate null results. A feature, not a bug. Also, what appears to be narrow scope to an outsider might be of incredible importance to someone who has a better sense of perspective. Many of today's most important innovations would be impossible without thousands of yesterday's "useless" results.
You aren't crazy, but you are missing the big picture.
To work around paywalls, try emailing authors, visiting /r/scholar, making friends at academic institutions, or getting a side-job that will permit you journal access.
In my experience the ratio is no where near that of successful startups to unsuccessful ones. The majority of papers from good universities are valuable. But to put all of this in perspective, the number of startups or companies that try to advance our collective knowledge is close to nonexistent.
Hacker news appears to love to criticize science and cheer industry. Yet almost no one here even attempts to perform the most basic of experiments, let alone write something close to an actual science experiment. On that note, I'd like to address the vocal subgroup of HN that feels science is best left to industry.
There has been absolutely nothing stopping companies from doing science since the scientific revolution hundreds of years ago. Yet the majority advances still come from publicly funded efforts. There is nothing to do to create industry science. Our current state already reflects what happens when you leave science to those who are primarily profit focused. There is almost no science from them.
In the past there were a few great industry research labs, we all know their names, but all of that is long gone. A few of the largest firms still do some basic science, but it's a shadow of the public effort and little to none of it is free, or even for sale at $30 a paper. A single patent will cost you much much more that that and is not even equivalent to a proper paper in utility.
This is because science is not near term profitable, or even profitable in a century necessarily. It's hugely valuable on longer time scales though, possibly more so than any other human endeavour. This is much too long of a time scale for companies to care about, and it's also impractical to allow law to bury research for centuries to allow individuals to massively profit from it. Industry has already proven it is unwilling to perform good basic science on a large scale.
> could it be possible that there are many scentific papers written by phd and masters which are simply garbage?
Sme of them are OK. Like... Count them on a hand or two.
That's not the point, though. The point is to teach a masters how to write a paper, and the second how to bend over to, think like and behave like their more senior peers -- dog training before allowing you into the herd, if you will.
> Am I crazy for thinking I am making this up in my head?
No. It's mostly hogwash. A large, deep cesspool of ultimately useless noise.
> p.s. is there a way to get access to scientific papers without paying $24 each time or a subscription fee? google scholar is good but some of the papers really insist on you paying. I thought knowledge was supposed to be free!
It mostly is. Visit the researchers' web page, and you'll frequently find the draft paper.
"Undergrads think they know everything. Grad students know they know nothing. PhD's know everybody else knows nothing."
p.s. no, hope the open access movement takes off (I think it is), or find a a friend in a university you can tunnel into. Given knowledge is power, it's not surprising someone is making tons of money off it.