Peer review is widely viewed as an essential step for ensuring scientific quality of a work and is a cornerstone of scholarly publishing. On the other hand, the actors involved in the publishing process are often driven by incentives which may, and increasingly do, undermine the quality of published work, especially in the presence of unethical conduits. In this work we investigate the feasibility of a tool capable of generating fake reviews for a given scientific paper automatically. While a tool of this kind cannot possibly deceive any rigorous editorial procedure, it could nevertheless find a role in several questionable scenarios and magnify the scale of scholarly frauds.
A key feature of our tool is that it is built upon a small knowledge base, which is very important in our context due to the difficulty of finding large amounts of scientific reviews. We experimentally assessed our method with tens of human subjects. We presented to these subjects a mix of genuine and machine generated reviews and we measured the ability of our proposal to actually deceive subjects judgment. The results highlight the ability of our method to produce reviews that often look credible and may subvert the decision.