Professional Publishing and Professional Cheaters

June 4, 2021

Collusion Rings Threaten the Integrity of Computer Science Research” is an amusing, if not hilarious, write up. The venerable Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery has discovered that there is a “growing problem.” No kidding. I noted this statement:

Collusion rings extend far beyond the field of computer architecture.

This is a nice academic way of saying that technical papers which are peer reviewed are subject to search engine optimization tricks, cheating, and you-scratch-my-back, I-will-scratch-yours behavior. This is a surprise?

The article explains how a collusion ring works. Among its characteristics are hiding agreements to praise certain papers and threaten individuals who don’t go the monkey thing. Monkeys can be quite violent. Check out chimpanzee wars here.

I think ethical behavior in business is a much discussed topic in some circles. I think those desperate for tenure evidence the type of behavior visible in other “professions”; for example, politicians and experts in medieval literature.

The article includes this statement:

The cheaters run the risk of destroying the very system they depend on for their professional success. It is time to take a close look at the peer-review process and to align the incentives so everyone is working toward sharing the best research work possible.

My hunch is that those engaged in self-promotion are likely to say, “Hey, not my problem.”

I think this is the defining viewpoint of the Age of Thumbtypers. It would be interesting to get Timnit Gebru’s take on collusion rings in the workplace.

Stephen E Arnold, May 31, 2021


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