The AI ​​research work was real. The “co-author” was not

An MIT professor found his name in two papers with which he had no connection

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David Cox, co-director of a prestigious artificial intelligence laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was scanning Computer Bibliography online in December when he noticed something strange: his name was listed as the author along with three researchers in China whom he did not know in two articles he did not recognize, published by Arstechnica.

At first, he did not give it much importance. The name Cox is not uncommon, so he figured there must be another David Cox doing artificial intelligence research. “So I opened the PDF and saw my own image looking at me,” says Cox. “It was incredible”.

It is unclear how prevalent this type of academic fraud can be or why someone would include someone who is not involved in the research as a co-author. By checking other articles written by the same Chinese authors found a third example, where the photo and biography of an MIT researcher were.

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It may be an effort to increase the chances of publication or gain academic prestige, says Cox, who says that He has heard rumors that academics in China are being offered a financial reward for publishing with researchers from prestigious Western institutions.

Whatever the reason, it highlights weaknesses in scholarly publishing, according to Cox and others. It also reflects a broader lack of rules on publishing articles in AI and computing, especially where many articles are published online without prior review. things wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t undermine public trust in peer review, “says Cox.” It really shouldn’t be possible. ”

Cox, who heads the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab, a collaboration exploring fundamental challenges in AI, was credited as a co-author of two articles in the trade journal Cluster Computing. One article concerned a machine learning method to protect mobile networks from cyber-attacks; another outlined a network scheme for an intelligent transport system in Macau.

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The article identified another intelligent transport project, included as an author, “Bill Franks “, supposedly a professor in MIT’s department of electrical engineering. The article, which appeared in IEEE Transactions on Industrial Informatics, featured a biography and a photograph of a real MIT professor, Saman Amarasinghe, along with the assumed name. Amarasinghe did not respond to email requests for comment and an MIT spokesperson.

“The article in question has been withdrawn”

All three articles have now been withdrawn and the publishers say they are investigating. But Cox was upset that the magazines would publish anything so obviously wrong in the first place. He says IEEE quickly withdrew the article, Bill Franks.

“Our investigation found evidence of a violation of IEEE guidelines and, in accordance with our editorial procedures, the article in question was withdrawn,” said Monika Stickel, director of corporate communications and branding at IEEE.

But Cox says Springer Nature, the editor of Cluster Computing, removed his name from the two newspapers and issued a retraction before threatening legal action. He was told that the magazine had received an email confirming that he was the author. However, this was done via a Hotmail address.

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“The fundamental challenge we are facing is that publishing has been trustworthy for decades,” says Suzanne Fa Riley, Director of Research Integrity at Springer Nature: “Unfortunately, it has become clear that there are some individuals and groups who want to deceive and abuse this trust, and cases where there are honest errors and misunderstandings. ”

Farley says sometimes academics do not use an institutional email address. In this case, an attempt is made to confirm that the address and author are legitimate.

According to Retraction Watch, a website tracking cases of academic fraud, one of the Chinese authors, Daming Li, has made a researcher from the City University of Macau a junior writer, Xiang Yao, who is affiliated with a Zhuhai Da Hengqin Science and Technology Development company, was responsible for the situation. Li told the publication that Yao added Cox’s name after “listening to his good ideas,” and said the researcher had been fired. Li and Yao didn’t respond to email requests for comment.

Ruixue Jia, a professor at UC San Diego who studied Chinese According to the scholars, the authors may have wanted to “fake international collaboration, often sponsored by universities.

“Fabricating the Appearance of Scholarly Dialogue”

In a previous example of academic fraud, more than 1,000 articles were withdrawn between 2012 and 2015 because one or more of the peer reviewers turned out to be false, according to Retraction Watch.

Cox says the incident shows “In a sense, I think what happened to me was that the system was working as it should,” he says. “The whole thing is to fabricate the appearance of scholarly dialogue. Brent Hecht, a researcher at Microsoft and Northwestern University who focuses on ethical issues related to IT, says the lax approach is broader: many papers are first published without peer review on arXiv, a server where researchers can read the latest work. without peer review, authors’ affiliations to these articles can serve as an indicator of legitimacy and quality. “Science works on a credit economy, so when credit is misallocated or obtained, everyone loses,” Hecht says.

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