An academic paper on nuclear physics that was not supposed to make any sense at all, having been written only through iOS autocomplete and by somebody who practically does not have knowledge on the subject, was accepted for a scientific conference.
Christoph Bartneck, an associate professor at New Zealand's University of Canterbury, received an email inviting him to submit a paper to the International Conference on Atomic and Nuclear Physics to be held in the United States this coming November.
The problem is that Bartneck does not have any knowledge on nuclear physics at all so he resorted to using iOS autocomplete function to help him with the paper. In a blog post, he related how he made the paper starting a sentence with the words "nuclear" and "atomic" and then randomly hitting the autocomplete suggestions.
"The text really does not make any sense," Bartneck wrote, adding that the first illustration on nuclear physics that he used was taken from Wikipedia. The paper was also titled through autocomplete.
Bartneck submitted the paper under a fake identity using the name Iris Pear, a supposed associate professor and director of a research team that focuses on Atomic Physics and Nuclear Physics at Umbria Polytech University, which apparently does not also exist.
Interestingly, the nonsensical paper was accepted in just three hours, with Bartneck receiving an email informing him that his abstract was approved for oral presentation at the international conference.
"I know that iOS is a pretty good software, but reaching tenure has never been this close," he said.
Although Bartneck did not have to spend money to submit the paper, the acceptance letter informed him to register for the conference at a cost of $1,099 as an academic speaker. Bartneck did not complete this step, saying his impression is that the conference is not a particularly good one.
A commenter on Bartneck's blog, however, pointed out that there is the possibility that the invitation the professor received was spam.
The problem appears to be present in journals as well. In 2014, Australian computer scientist Peter Vamplew managed to submit a bogus paper titled "Get me off Your F---ing Mailing List" to what he described as a "predatory" journal.
"There's been this move to open-access publishing which has often meant essentially a user-pays system," Vamplew said. "So you pay to have the paper published and it's available to the public for free."