May 1st, 2010
Could this be the world’s most excruciatingly ironic conference? The Second International Symposium on Peer Reviewing (ISPR 2010) is soliciting papers. Their call for papers emphasizes the sorry state of peer-review, calling for ”more research and reflections [that] are urgently needed on research quality assurance and, specifically, on Peer Review.” What could be more reasonable than a conference to improve the quality of peer review and the standards of research dissemination?
The conference itself is part of the 14th World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics: WMSCI 2010, and organized by the same institution, the International Institute of Informatics and Systemics (IIIS). Here’s the irony: IIIS and the WMSCI conferences are notorious for their lax standards for paper acceptance, as a cursory web search testifies. For example, Justin Zobel has described his experience in submitting three papers to the 2002 WMSCI conference, all three completely unsuitable for publication in any venue whatsoever. (One, for instance, consisted of alternating sentences from two other papers on different topics. Zobel’s excerpts of the papers form very entertaining reading.) All three were accepted for publication with no reviews or comments provided, even after repeated prompting. The WMSCI 2005 conference even accepted a computer-generated paper without review.
More suspicious signs: The conference charges a registration fee per accepted paper, not per participant. And presentation of the paper, even attendance at the conference, seems to be optional (but you still have to pay the registration fee). WMSCI’s hounding of researchers for papers is also legendary. It led to David Mazières, a computer science professor at Stanford, submitting a paper to WMSCI 2005 entitled “Get me off Your Fucking Mailing List“, complete with topic-appropriate charts and graphs.
Clearly, the organizers of the WMSCI conference and its many satellite conferences are not too concerned with optimizing peer review and solving problems with “research quality assurance”. Yet these are the very organizers of the 2010 International Symposium on Peer Reviewing. The cynicism undergirding this “symposium” is truly jaw-dropping.