Fake Conferences

I am quite enthralled by the work of Jeremy Stribling, Max Krohn, and Dan Aguayo with their project SCIgen - An Automatic CS Paper Generator. They had a generated paper accepted at WMSCI 2005. There has been a lot of fuss about this, whether it was legit to so such a thing, or if it was okay because the conference is a fake one anyway. I got many introductions to submit papers to this conference (at different locations) and has it on my list of "fishy stuff" to look at some day. Now that the discussion is going on in earnest, I am corresponding with someone who had a paper accepted and does not think the conference is a fake.

So I've been doing research instead of grading papers, and began wondering who this Nagib Callaos fellow is.

Anthony Liekens has a fake conferences page discussing it, Greg Elin looked at Callaos publication record - one paper. I also found some proceedings that he edited. Callaos is listed in the paper as president of the Venezuelan chapter of the IEEE/Computer Society. Okay, that's the IEEE connection. His dissertation sounds strange, I wanted to have a closer look, but both the OPACs of the National Library of Venezuela and of the University Simon Bolivar seem to be down at the moment.

Out of interest I checked the conferences I could find with Callaos as chair: SCI 1997 (Caracas), SCI1998/ISAS1998 (Orlando), ISAS 1999 (Orlando), SCI2000 IEEE (Orlando), ISAS'2000 (Orlando), SCI 2001 IEEE (Orlando), SCI 2002, SCI 2003 (Orlando), WMSCI (Orlando), WMSCI 2005 (Orlando, Belgrade).

The Sheraton in Orlando must *love* this guy! His organization has a site (http://www.iiis.org/) but that appears to be hacked (check out http://www.iiis.org/isas/).

There are also some "Asilomar Conversations" going back to 1989 (http://www.nhpress.com/isi/lib/proceedings.html) . Hey, here's something: Callaos, N., 1995, Metodología Sistémica de Sistemas, trabajo de ascenso a titular de la Universidad simón Bolivar, Caracas, Cap. 18, p. 649. Hmm. "Trabajo de ascenso", Work of ascent - to what title? I must profess my ignorance here. I googled through the sponsors of the 1998 ISAS and then the sponsors of the 2005 event - they have pretty much stayed the same. Let's run down the current list:

  • WOSC: World Organization on Systemics and Cybernetics (France)
    I can only find this on diverse calls for papers over the past 10 years
  • The Center for Systems Studies (UK)
    Hull University, Director is Jennifer Wilby
  • Systems Society of Poland
    Does not exist. I find a page with a link
    which delivers a 404. But it sure sponsers a lot of conferences!
  • Society Applied Systems Research (Canada)
    Hmm. Maybe this is The International Institute for Advanced Studies in Systems Research and Cybernetics (Canada)? http://www.iias.edu/. Their main job seems to be sponsering conferences
  • Slovenian Artificial Intelligence Society
    They hold conferences, too, but here you submit your camera-ready copy before the registration is due...
  • Pole System Society (Poland)
    Same as above, can't find it.
  • Italian Society of Systemics
    Nada. But they sponser a lot of conferences together with the Polish System Society.
  • ISSS: International Society for the Systems Sciences (USA)
    They organize conferences, too: http://www.isss.org/conferences/cancun2005/callforpapers.html
    "The conference registration form and fees are also due with the abstract submission. The payment will be refunded if the abstract is not accepted." Hmm. I've submitted lots of papers that were rejected and I still attended the conference....
  • ISI: The International Systems Institute (USA)
  • IFSR: International Federation of Systems Research (Austria/USA)
    http://www.ifsr.org/, the board meets biannually. The page is rather full of mundane stuff, may be legit, may not be.
  • Cybernetics and Human Knowing: A Journal of Second Order Cybernetics and Cybersemiotics (Denmark)
    I can find a CYBERNETICS & HUMAN KNOWING A Journal of Second Order Cybernetics, Autopoiesis & Cyber-Semiotics. Lost some Autopoiesis there...(Definition from Wikipedia: "self-production". How fitting, how strange that it is missing.
  • Concurrency and Architecture Group, the Telematics Engineering Department of the University of Las Palmas of Gran Canaria (Spain).
    Sponsers a lot of conferences together with above groups, but I can't find such a department. There's a telecoms department, but they don't appear to have a concurrency group.
  • CUST, Engineer Science Institute of the Blaise Pascal University (France)
    A polytechnic in France http://cust.univ-bpclermont.fr/
  • The Tunisian Scientific Society (Tunisia).
    Hmm. I only find one in Canada. But their webpage is broken.
  • American Society for Cybernetics (Canada)
  • ANS (Academy of non-linear Sciences, RUSSIA)
  • University Politehnica of Bucharest, Department of Mathematics, and Balkan Society of Geometers (Romania)
    http://www.mathem.pub.ro/ and http://www.mathem.pub.ro/dept/bsg.htm
17 sponsors, of which I find 6 non-existant. Maybe I am just a bad googler.

The discussion with my email partner has centered on the topic of minority inclusion in research. It seems that you have to be a white person at a big-name school to get published. People with "foreign" names at little schools throughout the globe have to make their own conferences so that they have a chance to publish, and Callaos is the champion of the small guy.

Well, that is a thought, but I would feel better if I felt that these conferences were actually well-reviewed.

There are other fake conferences around, I attended one myself. I found it strange to be paying my fee together with the submission, but was happy the paper was accepted with no further criticism by the referees. I felt great! At the conference there were many people who did not show up, the talks were never held (one had paid and the proceedings were printed, what more did I want?), the venue was not really comfortable for all the money we paid. I had some nice discussions with people from small countries, but no really great talks. (Except my own, of course!).

I had another paper that a student had written with me - we wanted to have it published, so we used the same conference again, this time, he went and gave the talk. He reported on the same situation. I decided that it was unethical to continue to support this conference (which has the same General Chair year after year after year) and so I tear up their invitations when they arrive. They invited me to be invited speaker this year if I could pay my own airfare, they would let me sleep in the guest bed of one of the organizers. I declined. If I am invited speaker I want my travel expenses covered.

What is to be done about this situation?


Copy & Paste Culture

I'm so honored - I have been invited to the University of Linz in Austria to speak about plagiarism at a seminar on "Copy & Paste Culture". Plagiarism and unethical behavior in research seems to be running rampart these days.

I just got a link to a blog about a guy jerking around a woman who is using him as her ghostwriter [A week of kindness] . It is so utterly shocking to see this woman's complete disregard for what she is supposed to be in college for - to learn. She only cares about getting good grades and has made the dean's list. I sincerely hope that her professor discovers the plagiarism!

For readers of German, my own portal on plagiarism: http://plagiat.fhtw-berlin.de/