Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Plagiarism allegations in Finland

According to the Helsinki Times, there is a plagiarism scandal surrounding Laura Huhtasaari, a politician (the deputy chairperson of the Finns Party) who ran an unsuccessful campaign to become president of Finland in January 2018. The public broadcasting network YLE published a report on May 9, 2018 about plagiarism in her Master's thesis that includes some documentation (in Finnish). Two external examiners looked at the thesis on behalf of YLE and both commented on the plagiarism, according to the Helsinki Times. They quote Huhtasaari as stating that she was only following instructions given on how to write a thesis, and that she feels that this is a witch-hunt against her personally that is going on.

According to what I gather from the Google translation of the YLE article, the rector has stated after a previous investigation in January that they will not be withdrawing the degree, as only about 10 % of the literature part of her thesis was plagiarized.  YLE has investigated further and found 30 % of the thesis to be affected. This demonstrates once again, that one can never state a "percentage" of a thesis that is affected: there can always be more, because a source has not yet been found. And any software-based investigation can also contain false positives, inflating a value. 

YLE notes that the plagiarism accusations first appeared in the blog of a liberal Finnish politician, Tuomas Tiainen, in January 2018.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Commenting disabled

Dear readers,

Google is being aloof about the GDPR which takes effect May 25, 2018. It is providing its bloggers no information about how we can comply with the GDPR. We don't know what Google does with the data, beyond what they state in their privacy policy. In particular, when posting comments, an email address is required. I do not know what they do with that piece of personally identifying information, so I have turned off commenting completely for now, only I can add comments.

It's a shame, I've been blogging for over a decade, but it looks like that is coming to an end, if there are such wide-spread legal threats looming.

I will also be turning off the statistical information via StatCounter that I had been keeping in order to keep me safe from threats made to me personally in comments. Since I announced using this, I have had no more threats. Not necessarily proof that it helped, but it was also interesting to see where my readers come from and which pages they like.

So everything turned off for now.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Various Links

I must have about a dozen tabs open with things I want to post, but no time to comment. So here goes, a May Day collection:
  • Nature reported back in February 2018 about researchers in South Korea helping their children or underage relatives to get into university by adding them as co-authors to their papers. 
  • Prishtina Insight published a detailed article in February 2018 in English about a VroniPlag Wiki case (Ama) involving a professor from Kosovo who had studied in Bremen.  
  • The Guardian reports in April 2018 a massive increase in cheating at university. I do assume that this is due to better reporting, not necessarily an increase in cheating per se. 
  • The court case that was filed by Lm (a VroniPlag Wiki case) against the University of Hanover has finally finished with a judgement that the university was within its rights to rescind the doctorate (in German). Another judgement (in German) in another case of a German university rescinding a doctorate for plagiarism (Aeh) also found the university to be within their rights. One would think that with the dozen or so judgements in favor of the universities, people would think twice about filing suit.
  • Retraction Watch published an interview with Ana Marušić about "Corrected and Republished Articles".
  • In February 2018, a judge in Croatia sued the national ethics panel after it found him to have plagiarizen in his doctoral thesis from 2013, according to Science.
  • The Belgian de Standaard published an article in March 2018 (in Dutch) about the Louven university being forced to retract publications that had seen a bit too much of Photoshop 
  • The World Conference on Research Integrity 2019 will be held in Hong Kong.  
  • A blog article in French at Rédaction Médicale et Scientifique writes about a couple of French cases of academic misconduct and another article there is about salami slicing.