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The problem with today's research and academic writing

#education #controvesial

Soc Virnyl Estela | 2024-02-12 | reading time: ~4min

A recent study about how citations are manipulatable have caused controversy in the integrity and honesty of those in academia.

To be fair, the issue about academic dishonesty is not new and has been increasing a lot over the past decade. It's not just in the Philippines; it happens around the world.

The key issue about the article explains why it so happens

One reason behind using these measures is the fierce competition that scientists face when competing for limited resources such as grants, laboratory space, tenure, and the brightest graduate students

Another thing is based on personal experience with others. A list of these I can think of are

  • the lack of review and time
  • the need to finish conducting the research
  • the need to publish fast

The lack of review and time§

A lot of research writing in undergraduate here in the Philippines require you to finish it. Facebook posts about how rewarding it is that it took them at least a year more while their classmates finish on time is not only overlooking the fact that academia is punishing but also ignoring the wasted time it took to be still considered unemployed. I am not saying you cannot work but their is still a culture here that requires you to be a degree-holder for you to be able to work comfortably.

Depending on your research topic, if you are lucky, your research topic may have enough time to finish your thesis before graduation. However, not everyone is "lucky". But it is kind of funny, isn't a research topic supposed to be someone's interest of the subject and not a requirement to get their diplomas?

No thesis. No degree.§

To continue, it is very common knowledge that if you cannot complete your research, you aren't able to get your diploma. Therefore, you are still considered a non-degree.

Based on my experience, the need to finish your thesis as a requirement to finish your degree is bogus, and error-prone.

Is it really an issue if you didn't finish your thesis? Does it make you incompetent? Does it make you less of a human being? These thoughts came to mind when I was in highschool.

How did this happen? Why is today's academia so problematic and broken?

Increase of fake articles during the emergence of LLMs§

Now here comes another new arising problem — fake articles.

As a science instructor, I have avoided written assignments to be done at home because of how easily this technology is accessible called large language models.

It's a different story in academia. It is more likely that people will use these things to complete their seemingly "scientific" articles as described by the article mentioned:

Unfortunately, the problem of citation manipulation is likely to exacerbate in the age of generative Artificial Intelligence (AI). Using this technology, a scientist can easily generate a “scientific” paper, and then plant citations as they see fit in the bibliography, e.g., to themselves or to another scientist in return for a fee.

With how LLMs improved by the day, and how much money is burned in that space, I won't be surprised of how many people will use that thing for dishonest practices.

Keep up the grind§

Another issue is the need to publish, a lot. To still be relevant, the pace of publishing new articles should stay consistent. It's not necessarily a bad thing.

But there is this perverted gamified tradition that one must have at least published as many as they can within a year just to stay relevant.

My overall opinion§

This does not entirely happen in the science community. But also in other disciplines.

This does not entirely happen in the academic community. But it also happens within the classroom.

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