Since the fake paper I managed to publish this weekend, I’ve been hearing disturbing reports that even undergraduate students are being forced to publish papers by college authorities.
It is my understanding that there are no University requirements that make it mandatory for undergraduate engineering students to publish papers either as a part of their BE Project, or anything else.
Update: Looks like I was partially mistaken. Here is the University of Pune’s BE Computer Engineering Syllabus. With reference to BE Projects, on page 56, bullet #5 says this:
Students must submit and preferably publish atleast one technical paper in the conferences held by IITs, Central Universities or UoP Conference or International Conferences in Europe or US.
My reading of the line indicates that submission is compulsory, but publication is not. Also, at least they’re clear in specifying what is an acceptable conference. But still, in my opinion, this can’t end well…
I have first hand experience with this. A student group who did their BE Project with me a couple of years ago were desperate to get their BE Project published (in fact, as I pointed out in my previous article, this incident is what started off the thought process that culminated in my fake paper this weekend). I protested that this requirement makes no sense, and forced them to go to their college and get the issue clarified. They came back to me and reported that they were told by college authorities that it was a mandatory requirement. What if the students were unable to get your paper published? The students were told to attach rejection letters from the conference – but submission was compulsory, they were told. At that time, my worry was that all these BE students would submit substandard BE Project reports as research papers to conferences and spoil the reputation of Indian researchers. Little did I know that the papers would actually get accepted by the conference they submitted the paper to.
Now comes something even more ridiculous.
Check out this notice from a prominent Engineering College in Pune:
(Note: I am neither disclosing where I got this information from, nor the name of the college – because I don’t want the students to get into trouble, and also because I’m not particularly interested in targeting any specific person or institutions. I’m more interested in seeing how we can change the system.)
I was told that this notice was a requirement for 3rd year engineering students last semester (Fall 2013)!! The only good news here is that the students were being reimbursed for (part of(?)) their expenses. But other than that, there are so many things wrong with this picture.
The worst thing was pointed out to me by a friend on Facebook:
Also, do point out that student themselves are so indoctrinated, they actually, sincerely believe that publication is a requirement. This is why the market is ripe for [conferences like these].
I know firsthand that students believe that such publications are actually good for them and their resume. I guess I am an idiot for arguing with them that this is not true.
Is this a common occurrence? Are other BE colleges making such arbitrary publication requirements? What can/should be done about this?