Friday, February 28, 2014

Short news

I again have a pile of important links that need documenting...
  • Nature reports on a system developed by French computer scientist Cyril Labbé that can be used to detect published papers that were generated by SciGen. IEEE and Springer had to admit that they had published not one, not two but at least 120 papers that were utter nonsense! And some of them appear to have co-authors who are not aware of their co-authorship. Labbé had previously demonstrated that one could set up a fake scientist with fake papers with an h-index of 94, essentially proving that the index is not reliable. I think Springer and IEEE have a lot more papers that need close examination and then withdrawal on account of plagiarism.
  • Flurfunk Dresden has a nice summary with links (in German) to the case of Nina Haferkamp. Stefan Weber had published documentation of plagiarism in her doctoral dissertation. The University of Duisburg-Essen has now, after long deliberation, decided that even though there is scientific misconduct in the thesis, since a "scientific kernel" is there, she gets to keep her doctorate. This raises some troubling questions. Weber has apparently been threatened with legal action, although documenting plagiarism in a thesis or paper is a time-honored method of scientific discourse, often referred to as a book or paper review. And if one can plagiarize away in the "unimportant" parts of a paper or dissertation, does that mean everyone can now plagiarize to their hearts content, as long as there is some little kernel of truth inside? The University of Duisburg-Essen does not tell us as readers how we can differentiate this kernel from the plagiarism-chaff that surrounds it.
  • VroniPlag Wiki has published case #62, #63, #64, and #65, from the University of Münster (again), University of Kiel (again), the National University of Ireland in Maynooth, and the Free University of Berlin (again). The map is getting quite thick with pins.
  • The Russian Education Minister is apparently unhappy with the work of Dissernet, a group of scientists in Russia who have investigated plagiarism in over 350 dissertations of, among others, politicians. Minister Dmitry Livanov is quoted as saying “People not versed in this topic will get the idea that all academics are cheats and liars. It’s a severe reputational problem for Russian science.” If the shoe fits....

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