Saturday, May 20, 2017

Sokal v.2017

I am crying simultaneously from laughter and sadness.

I can't even pick a favorite quote:
  • After completing the paper, we read it carefully to ensure it didn’t say anything meaningful, and as neither one of us could determine what it is actually about, we deemed it a success.
  • We cited and quoted from the Postmodern Generator liberally; this includes nonsense quotations incorporated in the body of the paper and citing five different “papers” generated in the course of a few minutes.
  • Five references to fake papers in journals that don’t exist is astonishing on its own, but it’s incredible given that the original paper we submitted had only sixteen references total (it has twenty now, after a reviewer asked for more examples).
  • Another cites the fictitious researcher “S. Q. Scameron,” whose invented name appears in the body of the paper several times.
  • For example, one reviewer graded our thesis statement “sound” and praised it thusly, “It capturs [sic] the issue of hypermasculinity through a multi-dimensional and nonlinear process”.
  • The other reviewer marked the thesis, along with the entire paper, “outstanding”
    in every applicable category.
  • [W]e suspected that gender studies is crippled academically by an overriding almost-religious belief that maleness is the root of all evil. On the evidence, our suspicion was justified.
My only objection is calling this "social science". Don't give real social science a bad name by associating it with crap that is entirely unhinged from the scientific method.


Steve said...

"In sum, it’s difficult to place Cogent Social Sciences on a spectrum ranging from a rigorous academic journal in gender studies to predatory pay-to-publish money mill." If the latter, the hoax says almost nothing about the field of gender studies. (The article was actually rejected by the first journal they submitted to!) The latter category exists and accepts nonsense in every field of inquiry. The exposé makes some arguments that Cogent Social Sciences is not the latter, but I don't find the arguments very convincing. Legitimate scholars publish in it? Sure, some journals accept everything, whether legitimate or not, and maybe there is confusion in the field about what journals are to be shunned. After all, the publication landscape is constantly changing. And legitimate scholars may actually want rubber-stamp-peer-review sometimes, e.g. if the tenure deadline is coming up or if journal prestige is not important for their professional development for whatever reason. The journal has the "legitimizing imprimatur of Taylor and Francis"? Well maybe they give too much credit to Taylor and Francis. And on and on. I'm only really convinced that two anonymous people (or one person twice!) said they liked the paper, something which AFAIK they say about literally every paper they get. I'm not convinced that I should change my opinion about gender studies.

Vera L. te Velde said...

Yeah I agree - I don't know why journals in which these hoaxes are published are consistently described as "respected" or something similar. Hilarious regardless.

Vera L. te Velde said...

On the other hand, what is the closest thing that has succeeded in a scientific (not "scientific") field? I don't actually know - there is a list of such hoaxes on wikipedia but without information about which were peer-reviewed.

Dan said...

I recommend this post and the commentary here. The authors are more credulous than the field (the initial journal they targeted rejected them right away! And there are plenty of similar hoaxes in harder science fields).

Dan said...

Several other hoaxes in seemingly harder sciences are listed in this post (also a good criticism of this particularly bad hoax attempt):

Why don't we apply the same standards to take downs like this that we apply to day audit studies? Define a good sample population, a research protocol, etc? Much like the Nature take down of for profit predatory journals and the fake editor application.

Vera L. te Velde said...

It's a waste of time to attempt to hold up funny hoaxes to the same scientific standards as, well, science :)