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February 28, 2014

Academic journals will accept anything if you pay their fees

Over a hundred computer-generated nonsensical academic papers have been published in prestigious journals in the last few years. If an editor actually read these, they would have been rejected. File under: Everything is a scam. How computer-generated fake papers are flooding academia | The Passive Voice | A Lawyer's Thoughts on Authors, Self-Publishing and Traditional Publishing
Like all the best hoaxes, there was a serious point to be made. Three MIT graduate students wanted to expose how dodgy scientific conferences pestered researchers for papers, and accepted any old rubbish sent in, knowing that academics would stump up the hefty, till-ringing registration fees. It took only a handful of days. The students wrote a simple computer program that churned out gobbledegook and presented it as an academic paper. They put their names on one of the papers, sent it to a conference, and promptly had it accepted. The sting, in 2005, revealed a farce that lay at the heart of science. But this is the hoax that keeps on giving. The creators of the automatic nonsense generator, Jeremy Stribling, Dan Aguayo and Maxwell Krohn, have made the SCIgen program free to download. And scientists have been using it in their droves. This week, Nature reported, French researcher Cyril Labb� revealed that 16 gobbledegook papers created by SCIgen had been used by German academic publisher Springer. More than 100 more fake SCIgen papers were published by the US Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). Both organisations have now taken steps to remove the papers. . . . . Academics are under intense pressure to publish, conferences and journals want to turn their papers into profits, and universities want them published. “This ought to be a shock to people,” Krohn said. “There’s this whole academic underground where everyone seems to benefit, but they are wasting time and money and adding nothing to science. The institutions are being ripped off, because they pay publishers huge subscriptions for this stuff.”

February 22, 2014

The CIA ruined American literature

How Iowa Flattened Literature - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
The Iowa Writers’ Workshop emerged in the 1930s and powerfully influenced the creative-writing programs that followed. More than half of the second-wave programs, about 50 of which appeared by 1970, were founded by Iowa graduates. Third- and fourth- and fifth-wave programs, also Iowa scions, have kept coming ever since. So the conventional wisdom that Iowa kicked off the boom in M.F.A. programs is true enough. But it’s also an accepted part of the story that creative-writing programs arose spontaneously: Creative writing was an idea whose time had come. Writers wanted jobs, and students wanted fun classes. In the 1960s, with Soviet satellites orbiting, American baby boomers matriculating, and federal dollars flooding into higher education, colleges and universities marveled at Iowa’s success and followed its lead. To judge by the bellwether, creative-writing programs worked. Iowa looked great: Famous writers taught there, graduated from there, gave readings there, and drank, philandered, and enriched themselves and others there. Yet what drew writers to Iowa was not the innate splendor of a spontaneously good idea. What drew writers to Iowa is what draws writers anywhere: money and hype, which tend to be less spontaneous than ideas. So where did the money and the hype come from?

February 20, 2014

How the creator of 'Vampire Diaries' used Kindle Worlds to get back at her publisher

LJ Smith was the original creator of the Vampire Diaries but labored under a lousy work-for-hire contract that gave her precisely zero rights to the material. She was fired when the tv show launched so that the books could swerve in a different direction. Now she's back writing the series she started but under Amazon's official fanfic imprint. The Daily Dot - How the creator of 'Vampire Diaries' used Kindle Worlds to get back at her publisher
Brace yourselves, fans: Kindle Worlds, Amazon’s write-for-hire publishing platform disguised as a friendly attempt to pay fans for writing fanfiction, has actually led to some amazing writerly justice for the creator of the Vampire Diaries. LJ Smith, the original writer of the popular Vampire Diaries books, was fired from the series in 2011 after churning out regular installments for over two decades. But now, using the Kindle Worlds platform of the company that hired her, then fired her, Smith is writing “fanfiction” of the series she created. In a moment of beautiful karma, Smith’s two installments of Vampire Diaries tie-ins, wryly labeled as “fanfic based on the Vampire Diaries book series—also by L. J. Smith,” are currently topping the list of bestselling stories on Kindle Worlds. Who says fanfic writers aren’t creative? Fans of the hit CW show may not realize that Smith’s name is missing from the credits. Instead, the Vampire Diaries is the product of a clever book packaging company who’s spent decades producing hit Young Adult series and turning them into popular screen adaptations. Although HarperCollins published the series in book form, Smith was actually hired to write the Vampire Diaries for Alloy Entertainment, whose fiction-by-committee efforts have led to some of YA publishing’s most popular series, including Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.