Your next paper could be computer-generated

Are you tired of writing a paper, based on real experiments? SciGen could come to the rescue, at least if you do computer science research. SciGen is a program that creates random papers, complete with results, discussion, graphs and references. Some of these random papers have been accepted at conferences or even for publication.

SciGen is of course a hoax. There are other famous hoaxes in science, including the 1996 Alan Sokal paper “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity”.

What do these hoaxes have in common? They randomly generate pseudo-scientific language. Important ingredients are buzzword frequently used in the field and standard phrases. If we look carefully, we find examples of this random-talk in our own work as well.

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2 Responses to Your next paper could be computer-generated

  1. Andrew Sun says:

    English being the most important second language in my country, I was trained to read English texts as fast as possible. Teachers repeat that English texts should not be read word by word. There are many blocks that can be omitted when reading. For example words after ‘for example/instance’ are only supporting the idea presented previously so you can omit them (and…Ha, you failed! You didn’t omit this sentence). Tricks of this kind are applied more when I am reading a research paper. Sometimes I feel I have omit half of a paper without any difficulties in understanding it. And indeed, in the science writing class I was taught to use the simplest words and grammar in a research paper, so you don’t change the way of expression when you refer to the same thing many times in a paper.
    Putting some ‘buzzword frequently used in the field and standard phrases’ in can increase the writer’s confidence on his work. (?!?)

  2. Heather Etchevers says:

    This is fascinating, and thanks to Massimo for bringing it to our attention. I certainly read the way Andrew describes, though I don’t think redundancy or variations in the importance of certain words over others is limited to English. Such variation is the music of a language.
    Anyhow, this line of parody is completely new to me, and I’m amused.