Fake and fun in writing research papers

The IMRaD (you know, Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion) as many other stereotypical structures, presents some disadvantages. The main one is that just by replicating its sequence you can endorse your content. Any content.
This is the basis of SCIgen, a program first developed in 2005 by some students at the Parallel and Distributed Operating Systems Group of MIT, that generates nonsense in the form of computer science research papers. Hard to believe ?.  Maybe, but the authors got a paper accepted at that year World Multiconference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics. And ever since, some 120 fake, computer generated papers have been withdraw from Springer and IEEE published conference proceedings.
The Spanish botanist José Angel Lemus (Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Madrid, Spain) and the solid-state circuits expert Adrian Maxim ( Silicon Labs., Austin, Texas) have falsified experimental data in addition to fabricating co-authors. Alirio Meléndez (Department of Physiology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore) followed in their steps and has seen 14 of his papers retracted.
But we don’t want to refer to the fake or nonsense papers either. Today, December 28th is our “Día de los Santos Inocentes”, an equivalent to your April first “Fools’ Day” or “la Fete des Fous” that French people celebrate every January 6th,at least in Victor Hugo work. Why not play a prank in the form of a top list of crazy or just imaginative research papers ?.
Stop reading if you’re an irreproachable, quite serious researcher with no time to waste. If you are not, here you are some suggestions:

A laconic abstract

One of the briefer abstracts reads just “Probably not” answering the question posed in the title of the corresponding original:  Can apparent superluminal neutrino speeds be explained as a quantum weak measurement? . We will not remind (and bore) you about the experiment by Adam et al. with the OPERA detector. But we must recognize that as a surrogate of the article content, this laconic abstract doesn’t encourage to proceed to the full text, does it ?.

The double phagocytosis
Researchers from FUCK (Felixe University of Chemistry and Kinetics) described in 2006 a double phagocytosis process under the title “Lobo feroz induce a Caperucita por la vía larga, mientras éste se transporta a través de la vía corta, produciendo fagocitosis de abuelita y caperucita, las cuales son rescatadas de este destino por cazador”. As you can guess, the classic tale by Charles Perrault is here turned into a nicely structured (if descriptive) research paper.

Fighting style

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) usually publishes very interesting and original papers in one of its December issues every year. In “Debunking the curse of the rainbow jersey” Thomas Perneger MD tries to understand the lack of wins that affects the current cycling world champion. For their part, ten authors published a randomized controlled trial on the “Effect of monthly vitamin D3 supplementation in healthy adults on adverse effects of earthquakes” (the results were negative). This year, however, a brief publication overcomes those and other imaginative attempts to master the deepest mysteries of Nature. Cath Chapman and Tim Slade (aussies, we fear) proposes a template for a rejection of rejection letter. The following fragment enlightens its content:
As you are probably aware we receive many rejections each year and are simply not able to accept them all. In fact, with increasing pressure on citation rates and fiercely competitive funding structures we typically accept fewer than 30% of the rejections we receive.” Anyhow, it is very difficult to reach the quality standard that the same journal offered with “Parachute use to prevent death and major trauma related to gravitational challenge: systematic review of randomised controlled trials”.

The shortest article

Finally, we turn back to the mid seventies to find “The unsuccessful self-treatment of a case of “writer’s block”, another very sad account of a failure published in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis by Dennis Upper. Please, don’t miss the comments from the (true) reviewer of the paper that, on the other hand, got its own entry in the English edition of Wikipedia, notwithstanding the fact that “portions of this paper were not presented at the 81st Annual American Psychological Association Convention, Montreal, Canada, August 30, 1973”.

December 28: have fun !!!!

With comments and suggestions from P Abad and N. Rodriguez.

Thank you both.


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