Bad Science: Euh…*Optimistic* Link State Routing Protocol for Adhoc Networks????

The other morning, Google Scholar shot me another email, indicating new citations to my papers. It’s often interesting to see how other people build on what I’ve done in the past, and so it’s become somewhat of a tradition that I quickly scan through the corresponding papers.

Often, this is interesting — but also, sometimes it is outright frightening. Such was the case of a paper included in the last Google Scholar notification, entitled Mechanism to Counteract Attacks in MANETS, written by “Susmitha A, Lipsa Dash”, who gave as affiliation “Sr. Asst. Professor, Department of ECE New Horizon College of Engineering, Bangalore, Karnataka, India”.

The paper was published in something called “International Journal of Scientific Research in Computer Science, Engineering and Information Technology” (IJSRCSEIT). This journal is, itself, published by something called TechnoScience Academy, which on their website claims to be “The international open access publisher” (but, which also is a publisher I’ve not heard of until now…).

Right off the bat, I am incredibly suspicious of “multi-topic journals”. There are a very very few, which are truly excellent (“Proceedings of the IEEE” for example, is a fantastic multi-topic journal) – but the vast majority of “multi topic journals” give junk a bad name.

Looking just at the front page quickly allowed categorizing this “International Journal of Scientific Research in Computer Science, Engineering and Information Technology” as in the “junk” category:

Yup, that’s right … the paper was received on May 15, 2018, and accepted May 28, 2018 – less than 2 weeks for peer reviews, revisions, editorial processing, etc.

Even if the paper was perfect and in no need for revisions, competent reviewers would need more than 13 days to properly vet the the content of the paper…

But, as nothing is more entertaining than a good train wreck, I glanced through the paper … and while there were many face-palm-inducing moment, nothing was more catastrophic-cum-comic than the bibliography.

Several things are wrong here, of course:

  • Paul Mühletahler’s last name is spelled weirdly incorrectly.
  • It lacks any indication of the publication venue of this reference.
  • And worst: the title is wrong…”Optimistic link state routing protocol for ad hoc Networks

And sadly, this is not the only reference that is so butchered by the authors.

The rest of the paper is – by the way – worse than the references section, and is guilty of many of the sins previously discussed in this “Bad Science” series, including:

  • It is trying to present a taxonomy of MANET routing protocols, yet it fails to include eg TBRPF (RFC 3684) which was published by the IETF in 2004 (i.e., it is not some obscure academic, or very recent, proposal)
  • For protocols that are included, such as OLSR (the Optimized Link State Routing protocol), the paper references RFC3626 – the historic specification – but neglects the fact that OLSRv2 (RFC7181) exists, and was published in 2014. This is particularly relevant here since (contrary to RFC3626), for OLSRv2 there exists extensive security mechanisms (RFC7182 and RFC7183, both also published in 2014), specifically for countering a class of attacks in MANET.

The conclusion therefore is that this paper entitled Mechanism to Counteract Attacks in MANETS is not just poorly written and not even sparsely sourced – but simply is obsolete right out of the gate.

Now, about “International Journal of Scientific Research in Computer Science, Engineering and Information Technology”…several red flags also:

  • No serious journal has a less-than-2-weeks turn-around time from “paper received” to “paper accepted”. Finding competent reviewers, who have time to do a review within such a short window, is extremely unlikely, bordering on impossible.
  • This, combined with the obvious shortcomings discussed in the above indicates, that “International Journal of Scientific Research in Computer Science, Engineering and Information Technology” either doesn’t do peer review, or doesn’t use competent reviewers, despite what the journal claims on its website:

To maintain a high-quality journal, manuscripts that appear in the IJSRCSEIT Articles section have been subjected to a rigorous review process. This includes blind reviews by one or more members of the international editorial review board, followed by a detailed review by the IJSRCSEIT editors.

Now, one final point: publication charges. On the journal website is claimed, that this is an open access journal – which, usually, comes with an “Author-pays” model. Yet, I could not find any publicly available information on publication charges. I therefore suspect (though I cannot confirm this, as I am not going to try to go through the publication process) that these charges will be communicated only after the paper has been subjected to what IJSRCSEIT passes off as “review“, and authors notified of acceptance.

Now…I often get asked if I think a given journal/conference is predatory, or not. Generally, I decline to answer that question – it is a judgement call for each individual to make.

However based on what I have seen – the poor quality of published papers, the unrealistic “processing and review time” (< 2 weeks) and the lack of up-front communication on publication charges, etc. – I draw my own conclusion that this is not a journal wherein I would consider publishing.