We all know that Lisa Simpson is smart, and Edna Crabapple’s a teacher so maybe she’s intelligent too, but when it comes to the likelihood of them publishing peer-reviewed academic papers there’s at least one catch: Lisa and Mrs. Crabapple are both fictional characters on The Simpsons. Two academic journals didn’t seem to notice that when they ran papers written by the cartoon characters — nor did they notice that the papers don’t make any sense.
Engineer Alex Smolyanitsky was actually the author of the papers that he filled with fuzzy, science-y sounding jargon and submitted to Journal of Computational Intelligence and Electronic Systems and the Aperito Journal of Nanoscience Technology. Both of the so-called academic journals are part of a rising pay-for-publishing industry. Simply by a having a legitimate-sounding name and looking nice, these journals pass off whatever the hell their paid to publish as real scientific research.
According to Slate, the industry has recognized a problem:
Even journals that attempt to maintain high standards have problems with things like fraudulent peer review rings and lack of proofreading, but predatory journals will basically publish anything, and that’s damaging. Many reporters and scientists like Smolyanitsky have intentionally caught journals in the act by submitting phony papers to expose how lax the standards are. And this tactic has (unfortunately) become an important tool for ferreting out scam journals.
In Smolyanitsky’s case, he just generated random text using the website SCIgen.
Regardless of whether the papers were fake or not, you can now add “Published Academic Research” to the ever-growing “Simpsons Did It” list.
(Photo: The Simpsons Promo)