Need a paper? Fake it

For untenured professors, the pressure to publish is intense.

Jeffrey Perkel
May 8, 2005

For untenured professors, the pressure to publish is intense. But it's unlikely any professor would be desperate enough to use a tool that a trio of Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate students recently dreamed up. Fed up with announcements for conferences they deemed of dubious scientific integrity, Jeremy Stribling, Max Krohn, and Dan Aguayo produced a Web-based application called SCIgen to generate random, nonsense computer science papers-complete with figures, graphs, and references. It worked: One of their papers, entitled "Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy," was accepted without review for the 9th World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics, to be held in July in Orlando, Florida.

The system relies on "skeleton sentences" and a lexicon of computer science buzzwords. Stribling, Krohn, and Aguayo combed the computer science literature to compile the lexicon, which Stribling says contains 3,500 or so phrases and terms....

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