Smart Software and Academics

January 19, 2019

In a world overcome with scientific studies that make life-changing claims, only to be debunked, maybe it is time for AI to throw a life preserver. Nowhere is this more obvious than in higher education, where there is virtually no oversight of academic studies, as we discovered in a recent Chronicle of Higher Education story, “Sokal Squared: Is Huge Publishing Hoax.”

According to the story, a group of academics:

…spent 10 months writing 20 hoax papers that illustrate and parody what they call “grievance studies,” and submitted them to “the best journals in the relevant fields.” Of the 20, seven papers were accepted, four were published online, and three were in process when the authors “had to take the project public prematurely and thus stop the study, before it could be properly concluded.”

While some think this prank snuffs out the fallibility of academia, others claim it is destructive to the trust of those outlets. Either way, this seems like an optimal time for big data and AI to step in to help verify things. Schools already use similar software to check whether students are plagiarizing papers.

With non reproducible results and bogus research finding their way into august professional journals, smart software has its work cut out for its zeros and ones.

Patrick Roland, January 19, 2019

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