Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Swedish professor accused of plagiarism

The Swedish newspaper Sydsvenskan reports on October 23, 2007: (translation/summary errors all my own:)

Professor in Lund accused of plagiarism

A professor in Lund has been accused of plagiarism. A French researcher discovered that the Lund professor had plagiarized his results at a conference in Poland in September.

People who knew the French researcher's work were astonished to hear the Swedish professor's talk - they found it to be the exact same result. The Frence researcher wrote to the Technical University of Lund's rector and filed a complaint. "I was to be presenting my paper afterwards and was forced to change the entire presentation", the French researcher said.

According to the researcher, he had discussed his research with the Swedish professor the last time in December 2006. The Swedish professor had criticized the paper as missing a mathematical basis. The French researcher asked for more details on the tests. "I talked to him normally as I do with all people," the French researcher said.

The Lund professor rebuts the accusation: these are two different papers. Anyone who reads them can see that. The professor thinks that there are commercial interests behind the accusation, as there is an EU contest in this area and both researchers are in competition with each other. The French researchers company was eliminated from the competition - other researchers are said to have found weaknesses in his system.

The French research said to Sydsvenskan that it has been 2 years since he worked for the company. The competition demonstrates research plagiarism, he says. My results show that the Lund researcher's entry to the competition was worthless. By taking my research results he avoided losing face.

The university had started an investigation of the accusation. They expect to have results in two weeks.

The Swedish professor notes that it will be simple to show that there is no plagiarism involved, as the French researcher has not published anything that can be found in the Swedish group's work.

The French researcher says that his method is unique and was invented in 1992. "It is true that I have not published anything before I attempted to write something in December 2006 and now in September. But everyone knows that this is my method."

Commentary: This is a very interesting case. Many people define plagiarism as only taking word-for-word of other people's written work. But where do we draw the line? Often accusations of stealing research proposals or results in papers submitted to peer review are spoken in hushed voices, no one wants to be the whistle-blower.

This is interesting because it is being conducted in the open - and in the press. If the LTH (Technical University of Lund) manages to do the investigation in two weeks, my hat will be off to them. One German University I know has spent over 2 years deliberating on a copy & paste job. It is best for all parties for this to be settled as quickly as possible.

It also shows how important it is to publish your work, to stake your claim, if you will.

I will keep you posted.

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