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I think the person should talk with someone on an ethics review board at their own university. Explain their concerns. See how a more impartial person assesses the situation. Also, they can give advice on the next steps, if next steps are required.


This made me lol: "long strings of vaguely sentence-shaped arrangements of words"

Anonymous Abonymous

I confess that my first reaction is to wonder if this is a case of Reviewer 2 getting too excited. From a distance, one might not expect someone who describes themselves as vain and lazy to be especially charitable readers.


If they're as incoherent as described then perhaps they're not actually written by humans, and are (e.g.) output from a comp sci automated text generation project or something. "Make a corpus-scanning algorithm that can write a philosophy dissertation" sounds like a plausible assessment item to me ;)


Are they really gibberish or just very poorly written? There is a difference, although sometimes I guess it can be hard to tell.


I would find a friend or acquaintance in the relevant field and ask them to see if they can make sense of it. I wouldn't share your concerns, but see if it causes any concerns in them on its own.

Christopher Hitchcock

I had a similar reaction to Carl. Perhaps these are not poor quality dissertations written by students and allowed to pass. Perhaps this is a scam of some kind. Perhaps, e.g. the faculty members/dept./school get paid by the number of dissertations they supervise, so there are fictitious students writing "dissertations". Perhaps there are students enrolled in dummy courses because they need to credits to maintain their scholarship/immigration status/athletic eligibility. Perhaps this is a citation ring designed to generate theses citing the faculty in question to drive up their counts on Google Scholar.


Perhaps it's unrelated, but I think it's not: I've recently been cited, together with other papers on the philosophy of lying, in what looks like a bot-generated paper "Artistic Study of Elegant and Concise Chorus Conducting Style". My Google Scholar newsletter was then flooded with recommendations of similar fake papers in musicology, all quoting *exclusively* recent papers in philosophy of language. My impression is that we're experiencing a wave (dare I say pandemic?) of spam publications, and that Google hasn't yet stepped in to weed them out of the system.
(Oh, and of course, in case you want to know more about elegant and concise conducting style: http://www.studiamusicologica.com/index.php/path/article/view/277/278 )

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