Department of redundant solecisms department

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A justly flabbergasted reader sent me a link to the web page at springer.com for H-Y Jeong et al. (Eds.), Advanced in Computer Science and its Applications, 2013. In return for $469 (paper) or $369 (ebook), you'll get a work whose publisher describes it as follows:

The theme of CSA is focused on the various aspects of computer science and its applications for advances in computer science and its applications and provides an opportunity for academic and industry professionals to discuss the latest issues and progress in the area of computer science and its applications. Therefore this book will be include the various theories and practical applications in computer science and its applications.

Springer Science+Business Media seems not be short of funds — according to a Bloomberg story dated 6/19/2013:

BC Partners Ltd., a London-based private-equity firm, agreed to buy German academic publisher Springer Science & Business Media GmbH for 3.3 billion euros ($4.4 billion) from EQT Partners AB and the Government of Singapore Investment Corp.

Between that 3.3 billion euro stake and the $469 cost per copy, you'd think that Springer would have a few euros to spend on a copy editor, if only for the publisher's blurb (which is also what's featured on the book's amazon.com page). It's true that this is a conference proceedings volume, whose editors are not native speakers of English. But still.

In case you think I'm making this up, here's a screenshot:

Update — I haven't been able to learn much about the Future Technology Research Association (FTRA), which sponsors the CSA conferences. There's an FTRA web site, which suggests that you can become a member for the very reasonable yearly fee of $120, which would entitle you to "Free access to FTRA Library", which is said to include "Keynotes and Proceedings". However, the facility for online registration ("available soon" as of 2010), doesn't exist yet, so you need to join up by snail mail, including a paper registration form and "a scanned file of your bank transfer receipt". Also, the "Conference Archive" part of the FTRA Library contains only the notice that it's "Under Construction", also since 2010. Overall, I can't say that this web site fills me with confidence about the seriousness of the organization or of its commitment to "future technology".

Wikipedia's only information about FTRA is a page on the Freight Train Riders of America, which is not the same thing at all.

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  1. Wow said,

    February 5, 2014 @ 9:32 pm

    "…you'd think that Springer would have a few euros to spend on a copy editor, if only for the publisher's blurb…"

    The publisher's blurb? How about the typo in the very first word of the title?! Surely, they meant "AdvanceS," not "AdvanceD."

    [(myl) Right -- Though you'd hope that catching a typo in the first word of the title would rise to the level of an acquisitions editor or someone like that...

    Then again, you could write a memoir with something like that title, maybe Advanced and Abandoned in Computer Science and Its Applications, on the model of Down and Out in Paris and London]

  2. Lazar said,

    February 5, 2014 @ 10:05 pm

    So just to be clear: if I'm parsing the first sentence correctly, this book will describe, among other things, the applications of computer science for advances in the applications of computer science.

  3. Rebecca said,

    February 5, 2014 @ 10:25 pm

    Dazed and Confusedwould seem to be a more apt title.

    [(myl) Advanced and Confused in Computer Science and its Applications?]

  4. Shmuel said,

    February 5, 2014 @ 10:37 pm

    The front matter available on the website includes a "Message from the SECS-2013 General Chair" that begins with: "SECS-2013 be organized as a workshop of the 5th FTRA International Conference on Computer Science and its Applications (CSA 2013). This conference take place Dec. 18–21, 2013, in Danang, Vietnam."

    …so I'm guessing Springer has a vanity-press arm?

  5. Brett said,

    February 5, 2014 @ 10:51 pm

    @Shmuel: It's an interesting question exactly what standards the various academic publishers set when producing conference proceeding volumes. (I feel like I ought to know the answer, having been on a number of conference organizing committees, but I've never had anything to do with the proceedings. Maybe I should ask around.)

  6. Ethan said,

    February 5, 2014 @ 11:21 pm

    The business model may be focused more towards purchase of individual articles. For instance $29.95 gets you whatever lies behind this gem of an abstract for an article pages 515-522. Strangely, many of the papers appear twice in the volume. For example that same paper on applying intellectual fuzzy technology to acupuncture patients via bluetooth appears again as a duplicate article pages 1349-1356.

  7. Ted said,

    February 5, 2014 @ 11:24 pm

    It would appear that this manuscript went to press without ever having been read by a person fluent in English.

  8. Victor Mair said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 12:34 am

    They should recall the whole print run, pulp it, and start over. But wait! Browsing through the table of contents, I spot chapters like this:

    "The Development of Convergent STEAM Program Focused on Rube Goldberg for Improvement of Engineer Career Awareness of Elementary School Students" by Yilip Kim and Namje Park (pp. 429ff.)

    "An Intelligent e-Services Composition Platform for Ubiquitous Baby Care: The Case Study of Life and Commercial Support Services for Property Management" by Chih-Kun Ke, Yi-Jen Yeh, and Chiao-Min Chang (pp. 1411ff.)

    "Development of Ontology for the Diseases of Spine" by Geun-Hye Kim and 13 other authors from South Korea (pp. 1171ff. [8 pages long -- nearly 2 authors per page])

    "Detecting People Using Histogram of Oriented Gradients: A Step towards Abnormal Human Activity Detection" by Abdul-Lateef Yussiff, Suet-Peng Yong, and Baharum B. Baharudin (pp. 1145ff.)

    Among the more than two hundred chapters (that's a quick guesstimate) in the two volumes, there are scores with titles like this.

    From front cover to back, this book is simply surreal.

  9. maidhc said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 2:47 am

    I think the theory that this is essentially a vanity publication is the most likely. These are papers that were turned down by better-known journals. I went to have a look at the one about "oriented gradients". Although I could only see the first two pages, and it hadn't really come to the point yet, it did seem as though it might be going somewhere worthwhile. So I set aside my first theory that this was some kind of experiment in automatic text generation.

    In my limited experience with Springer, it's a publisher that would stoop pretty low in pursuit of a dollar. I don't think there's any expectation that anyone other than the authors would ever purchase a copy. They could use print-on-demand technology to run off author copies, then the authors have something to put on their office shelves and in their resumes.

    If there are 300 authors and each one pays $469, Springer would get $140700 minus the cost of printing. No need to waste any money on editing.

    [(myl) While there are certainly "spamferences", I don't think that this is one of them -- though I don't know anything about FTRA and have never attended one of the conferences that they organize, it would really be a scandal if Springer were publishing true spamference proceedings in its Lecture Notes in X series, which has traditionally been a prestigious (if overpriced) brand. WorldCat lists about 15 research libraries that own this publication, presumably because they buy everything Springer puts out in its "Lecture Notes" series; in my experience WorldCat listings are incomplete, so Springer probably sold more, especially e-copies under various blanket plans.

    The reader who sent me this link has published in one of those Springer "Lecture Notes" series, and was horrified to be thereby associated with a publication presented as this one is.

    For real technical conferences, it's wrong to think of them as publishing things that "better-known journals" have rejected -- rather, they're where real scientific and technical communication takes place these days, in many fields including computer science.]

  10. GH said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 6:29 am

    I've been peripherally involved in some Computer Science-related conference proceedings published through Springer.

    In many branches of CS, publication is mainly through conferences rather than journal articles. These conferences are often affiliated with one of the academic/industry associations (such as ACM or IEEE), in which case those organizations will generally take care of publishing the proceedings (mainly digitally, these days).

    Conferences that are not thus affiliated usually contract out the printing of the proceedings to a publisher like Springer, where it falls under a series like "Lecture Notes in Electrical Engineering". This is almost always done well before authors submit their final drafts, and usually before the Call For Papers is even issued, so Springer doesn't see the papers when they agree to publish the proceedings. The publisher does do some level of quality checking of the conference (things like verifying that it's a real conference, that papers are peer-reviewed, and what the target acceptance rate is); I'm not sure how rigorous this checking is or how high the standards required are.

    In any case, once the arrangements have been made, the contents of the proceedings are entirely the responsibility of the conference organizers. As long as they stick to the Springer format, I doubt the publisher even looks at the text.

    The conference itself does not systematically proofread or copy-edit the papers. (At least, no CS conferences I know of provide this service.) During the peer review, reviewers may point out misspellings and other errors of language, but this is highly variable from reviewer to reviewer, and there is usually no follow-up to verify that the authors made the suggested corrections.

    As a result, incorrect and poor English is common in published CS papers, particularly when the authors are not native speakers. The general feeling in the community seems to be that this is very much a secondary concern when held against the research contribution and scientific rigor of the work.

    [(myl) I'm not surprised to find poor English in the text of conference papers, or even journal articles. As you say, this is common and is not a serious detriment to communication. But a typo in the first word of the volume's title is a bit above and beyond, I think; and the main problem with the publisher's blurb is emptiness and incoherence, not poor English.

    More seriously, the real question in a case of this type is what value Springer is really adding to justify the high price that it charges. As far as I can see, the answer is "essentially none". The obvious lack of editorial oversight in the preparation of this publication is just a symptom.

    I don't mean to suggest that there was no editorial oversight in the selection of papers -- I have no idea what FTRA's standards are like for the CSA conferences, but many technical conferences are fairly selective, rejecting more papers than they accept. But conference reviewers and editors are volunteers who are not paid, and who are organized by the conference and not by Springer.]

  11. James said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 7:26 am

    Geoff Pullum's The Great Eskimo Snow Vocabulary Hoax has a chapter called "Some lists of things about books". One of the lists is: titles that are not grammatical constituents. It is a great list. One of my favorites is, "A Tad Overweight, But Violet Eyes to Die For", just to give you the flavor, if you haven't read that collection. Anyway, this CSA book can officially join the list, but I don't think the other titles would be too happy about it.
    If you have not read that book of Geoff's, you should, by the way.

  12. Victor Mair said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 7:41 am

    I am involved with many major American academic presses, either as adviser or as series editor. I don't know about the social sciences, but in the humanities most of them have a policy of generally not accepting conference proceedings. They usually state that it is because of problems with quality and coherence. In the rare event that they do consider for publication a group of papers that were previously presented at an academic gathering, the press will subject them to an extremely rigorous process of review, editing, vetting, and proofreading.

  13. Victor Mair said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 7:51 am

    @maidhc

    I didn't take the time to examine or count them individually, but glancing over the table of contents, it appears that many of the papers have three or more authors. So the total number of authors who are potential (required?) purchasers of the volume could well be far greater than 300, meaning yet more profits for Springer.

    Another possibility is that the organizers of the conference had a grant to pay for publication, and that this included cost of printing plus one volume to be given to each author gratis.

    [(myl) The nature and role of conference proceedings in different fields is quite different. In fields like computer science, those who register for a conference generally get a copy of the proceedings (now mostly in digital form) as part of the registration package. And the proceedings are also often available online for free to members of the society that sponsored the coference, and sometimes to the public at large.

    Also, as I noted above, conference proceedings are the main mode of technical communication in many subfields. It's misleading to generalize from the situation in the humanities, where (for example) books are still in many cases an important medium of communication. This is hardly ever true in the fields that we're dealing with here, where for the most part books are more or less a cultural ritual similar to the academic cap and gown, playing a merely ceremonial role.]

  14. Victor Mair said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 8:53 am

    I just read quickly through the front matter preceding the table of contents and I see references to "high quality papers" that were "peer-reviewed". One workshop chair states that his section had an acceptance rate of only 44% and talks about a "rigorous peer-review process with three reviewers per paper." Other workshop organizers make similar claims.

    Judging from their names and home institutions, among the hundreds of individuals involved in the organization of the conference (there are many pages missing from this part of the front matter available through Amazon), a criterion of selection for membership on the various committees would seem to have been that an individual not be a native speaker of English. The large number of authors listed in the table of contents seems to have a similar composition. There may have been a few native speakers of English involved with the conference and the volume, but they are not easy to spot.

    This is a phenomenon that I have been noticing for the last few years with regard to new journals in a wide variety of science and even some social science fields — the near ubiquity of nonnative speakers among editors and authors. This is a sociolinguistic issue that has been puzzling me for a long time. It is not just this Springer volume. How can there be such a process of inclusion / exclusion that results in books and journals published in English and aiming for international stature having no (or next to no) native speakers of English?

  15. Victor Mair said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 9:01 am

    There is one other short note that may be relevant to the composition of the authorship in the books and journals to which I was referring in my previous comment. Namely, I have many friends and acquaintances who are graduate students in the sciences from China, Taiwan, Korea, India, and so on. To obtain a Ph.D., they must publish several papers before graduation. Often they are working closely with a professor from their home country, and the latter feels a strong obligation to help his students get the requisite number of publications. The proliferation of books and journals of the sort I have described above may be partly a result of this compelling need to publish before the degree is granted.

  16. J.W. Brewer said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 9:31 am

    Of the four listed editors, two have (or have adopted) Anglophone first names (Neil and James), which it seems ought to correlate with some level of English proficiency (or maybe just an aspiration in that direction?). As for the other two, I'm guessing one of them is the same http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohammad_S._Obaidat who (although born in Jordan) received his Ph.D. from an American university, is currently on the faculty of another American university, and has for many years been the editor-in-chief of an Anglophone scholarly journal published by John Wiley & Sons. Perhaps it's better not to inquire as to what minimum level of English proficiency can be safely inferred from those CV items?

    In the good old days a few centuries ago when scientists still did their scholarly publication in Latin (so that they could be understood across international borders) I wonder how good versus hilariously bad the quality of their Latin prose would have been thought by an actual resurrected L1 Latin speaker.

    [(myl) I'm not sure that we can blame the editors of the publication for the title and publisher's blurb -- it's possible that those were created by some Springer employee, or by someone at FTRA (the organization behind the CSA conferences), without the advice or consent of the editors, who were presumably the program committee chairs.]

  17. Eneri Rose said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 10:20 am

    "A Tad Overweight, But Violet Eyes to Die For" may be ungrammatical, but I still know it's about Liz!

  18. Nathan said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 10:47 am

    The Queen has violet eyes?

  19. Q. Pheevr said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 10:47 am

    Mark Liberman wrote, in response to a previous comment:

    the main problem with the publisher's blurb is emptiness and incoherence, not poor English

    …and I think this is something worth emphasizing. The prose in the blurb does not read like someone struggling to express themselves in a foreign language. There are two things it reminds me of:

    1. Text inserted in Web pages for the purpose of search-engine optimization. Key words are repeated with minor variations, and the resulting prose is neither intended nor fit for human consumption.

    2. An undergraduate or a high-school student trying to meet a specified word count in an essay on a topic about which they truly, fundamentally, do not give the minutest fraction of a flying fuck. The author has nothing to say about the topic, and no interest in learning about it, but has to fill up the page anyway.

    Now, if I tried to write a brief blurb about the proceedings of a conference I actually cared about in, say, Vietnamese, I think I could do at least a little bit better than this (given a reasonable amount of time and access to standard reference resources), despite the fact that my current knowledge of Vietnamese does not extend beyond counting to four.* What I would manage to write would certainly not be good Vietnamese—it would probably contain all sorts of solecisms, malapropisms, and other errors—but it would at least sound as if I was actually trying to say something.

    *I'm using Vietnamese in this hypothetical case just because the conference took place in Vietnam; judging by the names, none of the conference organizers or volume editors sound particularly likely to be native speakers of Vietnamese.

  20. Greg Morrow said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 10:56 am

    No one seems to have noted it overtly, but it seems obvious that there was a global search-and-replace for "computer science" with "computer science and its applications", at least in that publisher blurb, and possibly in the title.

  21. Marion said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 11:23 am

    Pity the poor copy-editor (when there is one). Here's a couple of paragraphs from two peer-reviewed papers by Chinese authors accepted by the editor for a special issue of a journal in computer science published by a highly reputable UK publisher:

    “According to the fact of river health function, obtain primary index for brainstorming, then cluster and filtrate the indexes by cluster analysis and Delphi Method based filtration principles (independence, measurability and typicality) and related literature home and abroad. From the Point of system, application and operability, it establishes the river health system evaluation index system and defines evaluation grade in accordance with expert consultation and grade."

    “And the former selects the appropriate value of the individual for being proportional to the probability of individual adaptation; the later is based on the ranking of individual in the population to select the appropriate individual. As for population replacement, the adoption of the program can be replaced by some individuals; it can be replaced by the entire group.”

    The copy-editor (CE – not me in this case) does the best he can with this and the proof goes to the author, but whether the author understands the revision is very doubtful. CE suspects that all the papers for this particular special issue were translated from Chinese and converted into Latex by a third party. He warns the authors he has had to make a lot of changes, so they should carefully check that the paper now says what they meant it to say, but so far they have all said they’re happy and have made no further changes, which is suspicious in itself. In such instances, all that prevents the publication of gobbledegook is a conscientious copy-editor.

  22. J. W. Brewer said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 12:01 pm

    I take myl's point that the "editors" may not be responsible for what Springer personnel (or someone) did for title and blurbing purposes. But presumably if they were organizing the conference they would have at least skimmed the titles and abstracts of the papers somewhere along the way, which would have been a perfect opportunity to note that many of those titles and abstracts are not grammatical, at least in the variety/ies of English used by L1 Anglophones publishing scholarly papers. So either their own English competence was not sufficient to notice the problem, or they didn't care enough to fix it.

    Now, it's possible that the target audience for the publication (assuming it's not a *pure* vanity project limited only to friends and family of the authors) is largely comprised of other computer science researchers from various East Asian countries whose own English is a bit shaky but who are used to reading scholarly papers in English, including in the highly ESLish varieties of English they and their colleagues tend to write in. Maybe such an audience is perfectly capable of decoding what is meant and/or their level of partial comprehension would not be dramatically improved if the titles/abstracts (and presumably full text) were edited to make them more grammatical and thus less superficially jarring to L1 Anglophones.

    Consider by way of loose parallel the difference between the sort of "Engrish" found in comically bad signage in the PRC whose presumed intended function is to communicate with Anglophone tourists and the different sort of "Engrish" found in surreal Japanese advertising copy etc. whose presumed intended function is to be effective with a local Japanese-speaking audience of consumers for whom English is a symbol of hipness or cultural cachet. That the latter genre may seem comical/bizarre/incomprehensible to an Anglophone tourist is a big so what, because that's not the intended audience.

  23. Victor Mair said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 12:51 pm

    @Marion

    Trying to turn prose like that into a passable thesis or dissertation is a herculean task. I've been through it many times.

  24. Gunnar H said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 1:35 pm

    @myl: Yes, I agree that the blurb's vacuousness is the real problem here, and that it does not reflect well on the conference.

    @Greg Morrow: Now that you mention it, it seems clear that something of this nature has produced the text as it currently stands. However, I wonder if it might not instead be a matter of having taken a generic template, and filling in "computer science and its applications" in every blank. I can imagine Springer supplying an example that read something like:

    "The theme of [CONFERENCE NAME] is focused on the various aspects of [SUBJECT] for advances in [TOPIC], and provides an opportunity for academic and industry professionals to discuss the latest issues and progress in the area of [AREA]. Therefore this book will be [about] / include the various theories and practical applications in [SUBJECT]."

    @Victor Mair: For the proceedings of a moderately large conference, 200 chapters (each representing a paper or note presented there) is not an unreasonable number. The titles you mention also sound perfectly legit to me. Fourteen authors is a lot, but it does not mean, of course, that they all wrote the paper together.

    @James: Interestingly, the dialog in the Doonesbury strip that gives that book its title is more grammatically regular:

    - I'm not wild about film people. But Liz Taylor, well…

    - Thrilling, isn't it? Wait until you see her! She's…

    - We know. "A tad overweight, but with violet eyes to die for."

    (Though I wonder if one could get away with omitting the "with" and interpreting "She's" variously as "She is" and "She has" for each part of the sentence.)

  25. Joe said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 3:00 pm

    The "computational intelligence" and recursive aspects of this indicates that Skynet has become self-aware and has decided to write a book.

  26. Ben Hemmens said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 3:16 pm

    Interesting cover design … very reminiscent of the UTB Reihe, which is a partnetship of 16 other publishers based in the German-speaking countries. Nice guys, Springer.

  27. David Eddyshaw said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 3:22 pm

    I'm just this minute looking at a (pricey) linguistic work published by Brill, whose author it is reasonable not to name, in English erratic enough that Brill cannot possibly have run it past a native English speaker. Not the only example of such things by any means.

    I think part of the trouble is that works which not too long ago would have been published in perfectly good German (say) are now brought out by publishers in English. I imagine this is partly in the hope of better sales, and partly bowing to the inevitably increasing inability of Anglophone students to manage any foreign languages adequately.

    Unfortunately many of the authors, editors and publishers involved speak good enough English to be unaware that they are not quite up to speed to make a proper English publication – good enough to be overconfident of their powers.

  28. Sili said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 4:01 pm

    Between that 3.3 billion euro stake and the $469 cost per copy, you'd think that Springer would have a few euros to spend on a copy editor, if only for the publisher's blurb

    Just shows that you don't have the mindset to make Language Log Inc. into a multi-billion-dollar business.

  29. Milan said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 4:04 pm

    @J. W. Brewer
    I like the implication that we are witnessing the emergence of some kind of a primarily written English-based creole with most speakers (writers?) being college-educated Asians, though that is probably a bit far-fetched. Are there reoccurring patterns in this kind of prose, that can't be explained from influences of their native language or as artifacts of a Interlanguage?

  30. Sili said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 4:07 pm

    J.W. Brewer,

    Of the four listed editors, two have (or have adopted) Anglophone first names (Neil and James), which it seems ought to correlate with some level of English proficiency (or maybe just an aspiration in that direction?).

    More likely they've just spent time abroad as ph.d.s or post-docs. That does not necessarily make for proficiency in English, but it does demonstrate the typical Anglophone's poor proficiency in any and all Asian languages, so they adopt an English name as a courtesy to their hosts.

  31. Sili said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 4:11 pm

    David Eddyshaw,

    Unfortunately many of the authors, editors and publishers involved speak good enough English to be unaware that they are not quite up to speed to make a proper English publication – good enough to be overconfident of their powers.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning–Kruger_effect

  32. J. W. Brewer said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 4:27 pm

    Milan: it's an interesting question because you would expect that e.g. L1 Korean-speakers doing ESL would make mistakes in a characteristic pattern having to do with particular mismatches between Korean syntax and English whereas L1 Mandarin-speakers doing ESL would exhibit a different characteristic pattern (as different from the Korean pattern as Mandarin syntax is from Korean syntax). So if they, by virtue of communicating with each other in their respective ESL's converge on a common creolized version that does seem like it would be an interesting historical phenomenon.

  33. Cy said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 4:38 pm

    @Milan I have less experience than many here, but I'd like to chime in that having seen East Asian schooling and East Asian students back in the U.S. trying to get written competence, that one of the main features is that they only write at the sentence level, with 1-2 errors per sentence. Because their worksheets are at the sentence level. When they get to an anglophone environment, they just run these sentences together, and so at the discourse level, those few errors per sentence multiply – because while the first sentence alone will have two errors, it's a totally different tense and mood and aspect than the same subject treated in sentence 2. So the errors compound. Pepper in all the set phrases they're taught, used un-idiomatically and with half-remembered collocates, and that's your pattern. It is consistent, but a corpus of the consistencies would be huge. Not a task for a few, or for the timid.

  34. David Eddyshaw said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 4:46 pm

    @Sili:

    Not quite what I meant: the people I have in mind on the whole seem to speak and write pretty good English (a lot better than my German, anyhow) but to inhabit a world where they use English quite a bit but don't interact much with native speakers, with the result that what they write is functional and comprehensible (mostly) but could never be mistaken for a native production.

    In other words, their errors don't arise from being poor at English, but from being genuinely very proficient yet underestimating the gap between that and full command of the language.

    This may be a particular instance of something that comes up frequently on LL: the startling ignorance even educated non-specialists in matters linguistic – the sort of high-end equivalent of all those poor Chinese sign-writers Victor Mair collects who suppose that a language is just a whole lot of vocabulary.

    JWB may be right in his implication that native English speakers aren't really the principal target anyway, so we should perhaps just get over it (and ourselves.)

    When you come right down to it, I suppose it's just a question of Modern Manners. To what extent, if you are going to use my language, does politeness dictate that you should be trying to get it correct rather than just comprehensible?

    (Also I feel short-changed that Brill couldn't be bothered to take more care with a remarkably expensive book, just as I would if the binding was tacky …)

  35. Chris Henrich said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 5:22 pm

    Springer has long been a leading publisher in mathematics. Their math books have been of very high quality, not only in their content but also in the quality of their typesetting, layout, and binding. They are often expensive, but not exorbitantly so. We call them "yellow perils" because of the dominant color of their covers, but we respect them.

    For this reason I am saddened by maidhc's perception that " it's a publisher that would stoop pretty low in pursuit of a dollar."

    I think there is a related phenomenon, namely a proliferation of expensive journals that publish material of very poor quality. Here is a relevant website:

    http://scholarlyoa.com/individual-journals/

    [(myl) Indeed. Many of the other publications in the "Lecture Notes in Computer Science" series are excellent -- which is why the person who wrote to me, who is the author of one of them, was so upset by this case. Springer also does excellent work in other areas, for example in their acquisition of BioMed Central, which as far as I can tell has only gotten better since Springer bought it.]

  36. Avinor said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 5:32 pm

    In a any contemporary scientific community/field, when would ever native English speakers be the main target of the scientific output of non-native speakers? This is comparable to the situation in the EU: everyone speaks English because everyone else understands it, not because they want to impress the Brits.

  37. Mara K said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 6:05 pm

    Try parsing the blurb, treating every instance of "computer science and its applications" as a unit, which I'll refer to as CSA:

    The theme of [the book] is focused on the various aspects of CSA for advances in CSA and provides an opportunity for academic and industry professionals to discuss the latest issues and progress in the area of CSA. Therefore this book will be include the various theories and practical applications in CSA.

    I think that makes marginally more sense. But only marginally.

  38. D.O. said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 7:27 pm

    About the typo in the first word of the title

    Решено было не допустить ни одной ошибки. Держали двадцать корректур. И все равно на титульном листе было напечатано: "Британская энциклопудия". (И. Ильф, "Записные книжки")

    Resolved not to allow any mistakes. [They or we] have held twenty proofs. And still on the title page it reads: "British Encyclopudia." (I. Ilf, "Notebooks")

  39. Besasel Dekker said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 7:28 pm

    Gregg Morrow has nailed it, I think. Many of the other comments are truly informative and perceptive, but the blurb seems to be an obvious victim to Search & Replace.

  40. Bobbie said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 11:42 pm

    I used to be a proofreader and copy editor for papers submitted to conferences and symposia (mostly in the social sciences and medical specialties). I remember reading too many presentations which had been poorly translated into English by the original researchers. Sometimes I played a game of reading the text without looking at the names of the authors and trying to guess the original language of the text by the grammatical errors in the English translation.
    If I had been hired to proofread this one, I would have been tempted to send it back…. rather than spend endless hours trying to "fix" it!

  41. tsts said,

    February 7, 2014 @ 12:37 am

    As a computer scientist, I have to say that this is indeed a rather bizarre publication. It may not be a real spamference, but it is really close and has a number of issues that raise alarm: (1) it is organized by a strange organization whose purpose is unclear, (2) it has an overly broad title and paper topics (computer science has many high-quality conferences on specific topics such as databases or networks, but there are no highly rated conferences on all of computer science), (3) is is published in the context of a neighboring discipline (Lecture Notes in Electrical Engineering) under the topic "Computational Intelligence and Complexity" – I am not aware of a recognized area in computer science with this name, and (4) the PC members are mostly either, eh, rather undistinguished, or at the wrong end of the quality-quantity tradeoff in their publication mores, with a few exceptions of solid people who I guess were somehow conned into participating.

    So this is as close to a scam as it gets. And yes, Springer has very low standards in its lecture notes and pretty much publishes anything that comes along.

  42. scav said,

    February 7, 2014 @ 11:59 am

    Apart from everything else that is wrong with this publication, it sounds like terrible value for money. For 200 bucks you could join the ACM and get access to its entire digital library for a year, which includes the proceedings of several non-made-up conferences.

  43. Shriram Krishnamurthi said,

    February 8, 2014 @ 8:38 am

    There's a good reason for Springer to do this, and it has little to do with vanity publishing. When people complain about the high prices of Elsevier and Springer library rates, the response has been, "yes, but this bulk rate gets you access to _this many_ volumes, so the _per volume_ rate is low". Therefore, anything they can do to jack up the denominator is good for their business. The less they have to spend to jack it up, the better.

  44. Michael Briggs said,

    February 9, 2014 @ 4:04 am

    I think they may be Liz Taylor's violet eyes, not Liz Windsor's. And that's a pretty catchy and perfectly comprehensible book title.

  45. a George said,

    February 10, 2014 @ 6:50 am

    – is this a 'spamference' ?

    Dear a George [I've hidden my real name]

    We would like to invite you to participate in the 8th International
    Multi-Conference on Society, Cybernetics, and Informatics: IMSCI 2014
    (www.iiisconferences2014.org/Imsci), to be held on July 15 – 18, 2014, in
    Orlando, Florida, USA, which is being organized jointly with The 12th
    International Conference on Education and Information Systems, Technologies and Applications: EISTA 2014 (www.iiisconferences2014.org/eista).

    ****************************************************
    The Proceedings of these conferences are being indexed by Elsevier's SCOPUS since 2005, along with its collocated events below.
    ****************************************************
    The submissions deadline for this Call for Papers is *MARCH 4th, 2014*. The other deadlines can be found at the respective conference web site.
    ****************************************************
    In order to promote inter-disciplinary communication participants in any of
    these events will be able to attend any of the collocated events which are
    mainly the following (URLs of the respective web site are provided at
    http://www.iiisconferences2014.org/conferences-summer2014.asp)

    • Politics and Information Systems, Technologies and Applications: PISTA
    2014
    • Social and Organizational Informatics and Cybernetics: SOIC 2014
    • The 18th World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics: WMSCI 2014
    • The International Symposium on Knowledge and Cognitive Science and
    Technologies: KCST 2014
    • The 7th International Multi-Conference on Engineering and Technological Innovation: IMETI 2014

    Submissions deadlines and other collocated events are listed at the web page given above.

    Submissions for face-to-face and virtual presentations are both accepted.
    Details about the following issues have also been included at the URLs given
    above:
    • Pre- and post-conference virtual session
    • Virtual participation
    • Two-tier reviewing combining double-blind and non-blind methods
    • Access to reviewers’ comments and evaluation average
    • Waiving the registration fee of effective invited session organizers
    • Best papers awards
    • Publication of best papers in the Journal of Systemics, Cybernetics, and
    Informatics (JSCI), which indexed in EBSCO, Cabell, DOAJ (Directory of Open
    Access Journals), and Google Scholar and Listed in Cabell Directory of
    Publishing Opportunities and in Ulrich’s Periodical Directory. (All papers to
    be presented at the conference will be included in the conference printed and electronic proceedings)
    ****************************************************
    We would also like to inform you about an event we are organizing in the
    University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia, on June 30 – July 4, 2014.
    Consequently, we would also like to invite you to participate in The 2nd
    International Conference on Complexity, Cybernetics, and Informing Science and Engineering: CCISE 2014 (www.iiisconferences2014.org/ccise)
    ****************************************************
    Please consider to contribute to and/or forward to the appropriate groups who might be interested in submitting contribution to the above mentioned
    collocated events.

    Best regards,

    Conference Organizing Committee

    If you wish to be removed from this mailing list, please send an email to
    remove@mail.iiisconferences2014.org with REMOVE MLCONFERENCES in the subject line. Address: Torre Profesional La California, Av. Francisco de Miranda, Caracas, Venezuela.

    —– I can do better than that! I promise not to post this 'multi-call' again.

    best, a George

  46. Edward said,

    February 11, 2014 @ 10:02 am

    It's pretty embarrassing to charge so much for a work which already has a significant number of glaring typos on the cover. I dare not imagine exactly how bad the content is.

    As a CS major I recently had to read through some lecture notes which contained moon grammar for it clearly wasn't English as we know it. It easily doubled the length of time required to absorb the information. This was just CPU architecture and written by an English speaking lecturer mind. God help the poor souls trying to sift through this tripe. We should get the psychology school to do a study on how long it takes them to go mad.

  47. Victor Mair said,

    February 11, 2014 @ 7:11 pm

    Springer is one of the leading bidders for the purchase of Forbes. One of its main competitors is a Chinese group.

  48. Yet another John said,

    February 12, 2014 @ 9:54 am

    @Victor: Really? Are you sure you aren't confusing Axel Springer AG (founded in 1946 by Axel Springer, publishes Bild) with Springer Science+Business Media, aka Springer-Verlag (founded in 1842 by Julius Springer, publishes little yellow math books)?

    Don't think they're related, though these days it's always hard to tell whether Company A and Company B are just two subdivisions of Big Multinational C.

  49. Commentarius said,

    February 12, 2014 @ 11:46 am

    Interesting as the linguistic analysis here is, it should be pointed out (as Shriram has above) that Springer is engaging in what might be called an international content-vacuuming project in order to bulk up its ebook packages: the more they publish, the more they can charge libraries who buy these giant bundles sight unseen. This has led to an inevitable degradation of quality, aligned with a near-total elimination of even basic copy-editing tasks (which would add to their cost), to create a perfect storm of scholarly noise, mostly coming from Asian sources. Sales to individuals are negligible; institutional sales drive the bus. No rational person is going to pay $500 for a junky conference off-print with a typo its title and an unintelligible jacket blurb. But many libraries do pay hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to get all this output in all-or-nothing ebook bundles. Their sanity is also to be questioned. One could say that this is a win-win-win: libraries provide stuff their users might want to look at someday, with very little staff investment; Springer reaps millions in profits for its owners; ESL authors get an outlet for their need to publish in English and pad their CVs. But cumulatively it's making the scientific literature even more of a morass of unreadable, and unread, junk.

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