Sunday, November 29, 2015

This and That

Sorry about the long silence. It's not just been my day job and my research. Someone who was unhappy with one of my blog posts had some lawyers get active. I have had to remove a post (can't say which one or it will cost me even more). I am quite disturbed that scientific discussions are more and more overshadowed by legal threats. Enough on that for now, a reader sent me a fine list of interesting links to international articles about plagiarism a while back, so here's a few!
  • The Korean Times reports on "Public officials accused of plagiarism on papers". The most disturbing part of the article is the first two sentences:
    "Plagiarism is everywhere in Korea where novelists, scholars and politicians habitually copy other people's work, making people insensible to this unethical practice. Public officials are no exception." Habitually. Like it's normal. 
  • There's a big row in Korea at the moment about a retraction of a paper about black holes, the Korean Times reports. It seems that a very young PhD published a paper in 2015 together with his advisor [1] that turns out to be textually and mathematically extremely close to a 2002 conference paper by the advisor alone [2]. There is a blog entry at ScholarlyOA about the case and one at RetractionWatch. A retraction notice was published this past week.
    As an amusing aside, the 2002 paper is followed in the conference proceedings by the following figure that is probably some sort of black hole insider's joke:
  • The Moscow Times reports that a Russian Official Has Doctorate Revoked After Plagiarism Charges. The Russian academic group Dissernet had documented plagiarism in the law thesis of a politician, who requested that his dissertation be revoked. He has announced that he wants to re-submit the thesis, with the "borrowing" fixed. I've seen announcements like this in a number of instances, and it puzzles me. Is it believable that people who stoop to plagiarism keep exact records of which bits they stole from what source? I think not. The published documentations are not machine-generated exact tracings of all of the plagiarisms, but only of some of what has been found to date. There can be (much) more.
  • On the topic of re-submitted theses, Neue Züricher Zeitung and Tagesanzeiger have both reported on a VroniPlag Wiki documentation of plagiarism in a Swiss habilitation. The university in question responded, when sent the documentation, that this was a documentation of the first version of the habilitation (which appeared in print) and that has been superseded by a second version. So they consider the case closed. The second version is not (yet) published, so there is no chance to see whether all of the documented text parallels are now properly quoted.