Re: Hazards Of The Review Process

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My dad has said that when he applies for grants, he never describes quite the idea that he's really excited about. He describes something nearby that will flesh out the "plug and chug" science that needs to be done for diseases to be understood, but is not glamorous. For exactly this reason. In his words, it's a little easy for a grant-reading scientist to be loosely inspired and forget exactly how the inspiration occured to them.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 5:53 AM
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I'm actually surprised there aren't clear social norms for handling abuses of the review process like this

Rough music followed by defenestration would seem socially appropriate. That's horrifying. Can she do the bastard for plagiarism?


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 5:55 AM
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2: That's what's puzzling me -- apparently, no, not conventionally (and her commenters seem to agree that this sort of thing is a problem, and a difficult one to resolve). Someone in the comments says that while it's unethical, it's not plagiarism unless there's literally lifted text and figures.

But the story as she tells it seems much more clear cut that Heebie's dad's general worry about 'inspiration' (which is the sort of thing that could happen to someone not intending to be unethical). I'm really surprised there doesn't seem to be a process.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 6:01 AM
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2, 3 - Anecdotally, there are mathematicians out there who were reputed to steal ideas from conference talks.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 6:18 AM
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Math is generally held to be much more gentlemanly about this sort of thing than the other sciences. For example, (I've told this story before), a grad student in our department had a great result, and was scooped by a senior professor elsewhere. There was no foul play, just one of those simultaneous discoveries. The senior professor was widely held in contempt for not allowing the grad student to have the result.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 6:28 AM
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In theory, one's professional reputation is what's holding them in check against this sort of abuse, and this story is supposed to be circulated and mar their reputation. I think.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 6:29 AM
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6 referring to the original post.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 6:29 AM
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My mind didn't go immediately to the notion that the reviewer stole the ideas but that he had the other study in the works and screwed her over so he could scoop her. (I haven't read the linked post, so it might be obvious that it's a case of the former, but the latter is in some ways even more pernicious.)


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 6:29 AM
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It might be a good idea to consult with a uninvolved third party to make sure the offense is as clear to others as it is to her. If so, she could start by complaining to the journal which rejected her paper (enclosing the review and publication by the referee).


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 6:31 AM
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9 seems a very reasonable approach.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 6:35 AM
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8: It's pretty obvious it's the former, from my reading of the post.

9: Her co-author has done that.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 6:38 AM
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Yeah, I just went and read it, and you're quite right.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 6:40 AM
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hat Heebie's dad's general worry about 'inspiration' (which is the sort of thing that could happen to someone not intending to be unethical)

No, it's the sort of thing that someone can rationalize away if they deliberately avoid thinking about it too directly, or if they just plain think they can get away with it. "Not intending to be unethical" is too generous for what he's fearing.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 6:55 AM
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There's actually been a very positive turn in my relationship with the editor, if not the referee, in my ongoing saga.

1. First, my advisor confirmed that the referee was correct, and my theorem was still wrong. (Which was a good thing, because I felt much less crazy.) Now, this error is a standard detail that I've dealt with umpteen times throughout the paper. It's very real, but it's very reasonable that it was an oversight, that would be highly fixable. (Which I think it was.) So it's still bizarre that the referee halted his reading on page 4.

2. I responded to the editor's editorializing that "he very much hoped this was the last revision." I took this as a threat that the paper was sunk if it was not, which is why I was super upset. Totally unprofessionally, I gave him personal story about why the first few drafts were so terrible - I was a mere grad student, I was a terrible writer - and why this review process has consequentially dragged on so far.

3. The editor wrote back and said, in effect, OMG I didn't mean to scare you to death. The paper is going to be published, as soon as you and the referee can find a happy meeting place. Also, would you like to give a talk at my school, in the fall?

4. I was all tearful and happy. And am currently resubmitting the latest draft. Of course, none of this addresses why the referee is so persnickety.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 7:04 AM
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I'm glad you've managed to move your paper forward, Heebs. I just got an acceptance notice on a paper where one of the reviewer comments had me so angry I simply couldn't address it for several weeks. I made the smallest change that allowed me to plausibly claim I'd addressed the issue and apparently that was good enough. I'm assuming that the reviewer's snarky comment reflects the bad day he or she was having, since there was no substantive change to that part of the paper.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 7:14 AM
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The comments at the linked post are really interesting. A lot of smart stuff, but also a few people who want to punch the dishonest reviewer. If that sort of thing happened more at scientific meetings it'd certainly liven them up. We should bring back dueling, televise it, and use the money for grad student stipends.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 7:31 AM
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15: Hooray!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 7:40 AM
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I know of a couple of cases in my own field of faculty who straightforwardly stole an idea from a graduate student paper and then went on to publish it themselves.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 7:43 AM
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Actually, in 17 I meant to hooray 14. But 15 deserves hooraying as well. As for 18? Boo.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 7:44 AM
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I'm not an academic, but this seems like the sort of thing that (1) everyone knows must go on some of the time, but that no one ever does anything about because it's usually extremely difficult to prove beyond a vague hunch, and (2) everyone agrees is extraordinarily unethical, unacceptable, in violation of all norms of academic professionalism and basic human decency. Usually, whenever you have something that combines (1) and (2), people are eager to crush to death the perpetrator whenever they're confronted with the odd case that does have solid evidence of wrongdoing, both to make an example out of him and also just to indirectly vent their frustration with all the people they've suspected did the same thing, but couldn't prove it.

So, assuming her evidence is as good as she says (hard to tell from the post, but it sounds fairly solid), I think 9.last is a good place to start (I understand it's already been done). But I think I'd probably also send all the same information to the second journal that published his paper, asking them to print a note properly allocating credit for the research. I'd probably also send the information to his academic department, asking them to consider initiating whatever disciplinary proceedings they have available/are appropriate. And as for her question "How open should I be with other colleagues, students etc. about this situation?", this is probably obvious at this point, but my answer would be "very, very open."


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 7:47 AM
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It sucks, but this kind of thing is par for the course -- at least, in the area of science where I worked. If you wanted, for instance, I could tell you a very similar funny story about the dual (and dueling) papers behind this NYT article from a few years ago.

In the same vein are accounts like this, which are also completely representative.

Being a scientist is a lot like driving: you're on the road with a lot of assholes.


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 7:55 AM
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The (normal) anonymity of referees is just meant to safeguard the process while it's going on, right? Would it hurt for referees' names to be disclosed after the fact?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 8:03 AM
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22: Probably still a bad idea, if the referee rejected the paper.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 8:06 AM
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Since the referee signed their review (huge step forward, this is much harder if the referee is anonymous), open correspondence seems pretty straightforward. Official channels seem worthwhile (the editors of the two journals), which might lead to a brief written statement by either an editor or the referee acknowledging the contribution of a then-unpublished MS.

After that, publishing the review of the now public MS, and citations to the refereee's work and the authors work, say on a personal website, should stand for itself, it's a set of 3 documents that tells a clear story. An imperfect analogy is Sokal-- there's a lot of talking, but the real story is a handful of documents (submiited article and acceptance letter).

Signed reviews rather than anonymous ones are a great idea, but that practice makes people less eager to serve as referees.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 8:09 AM
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I sign my reviews for whatever that's worth, even the bad ones. I don't, however, get faced with high-profile papers from competitors for grants in a rapidly-changing field. It's these that are the most important and most difficult case for referees and editors.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 8:13 AM
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I'm not understanding comments like 21 (there are others, here and on her thread), with the resigned tone of "par for the course". The tone seems to not only that it's relatively common, but that it's so common that it's hard to get worked up about it--which implies that it's basically considered acceptable. Otherwise, the fact that it's so common makes it worse, right? And makes it all the more important to punish it aggresively whenever possible?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 8:14 AM
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26: There's a difference between being resigned and being on board with a practice. Being resigned makes you feel like you're too little to make any difference, so no one does anything when it happens.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 8:19 AM
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I sign my reviews "lw".


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 8:20 AM
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People fight for credit pretty regularly, which is the real issue. Attacking someone else takes a lot of work and is usually unrewarding, and there are structural issues that make a systematic solution unlikely.

The structural issues are that referees are unpaid and often have a stake in the outcome (the only people who can assess a a paper are the competition, and possibly the program officer, but she's not going to say anything). Also journal status of the accepting publication is seen as important-- everything gets published somewhere, good work is cited within the field, bad work isn't.

But citation statistics have some problems as merit assessments as well (principally comparing large to small fields, and revolutionary work taking a long time to make an impact), and some people, stereotypically older ones, really just prefer to know the name of the publishing journal rather than the citation count. This discussion leads upstream to why are there so many journals and how much status should attach to being an editor, which are pretty sensitive politically.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 8:24 AM
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I'm not sure I completely understand the ins and outs of the peer review process, but a basic question: given that: (1) the guy is a well-known, brilliant and creative scientist (as she acknowledges) and (2) his name was on the review--it's not like she discovered her reviewer's name through some freak happenstance, do those two facts together imply that maybe her case against this guy isn't as good as she thinks it is? The risk of getting "caught" seems relatively high, right? (His stolen work was being published after all, and the people he stole from are obviously in the same field.)

I mean, unless I'm wrong in 20 and 26 and this sort of behavior, while not exactly condoned, is basically considered acceptable, "par for the course" as arthegall puts it. Given what I thought I knew about the norms of the academy, I would find that hard to believe, but, obviously, I'm not an academic, so.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 8:27 AM
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There's a difference between being resigned and being on board with a practice.

I didn't say "on board with the practice". But if something is very common, and no one is very upset by it happening, or has any interest in doing anything to dissuade anyone from doing it, then yeah, I'd say the activity is basically acceptable within the community. People might not really like it, but it's not unacceptable behavior.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 8:31 AM
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Reviewer number 3 explicitly based his recommendation on the reputation of reviewer number 2 for honesty. Seems to me that a direct attack is not only warranted but required. No reputable journal should be considering using either 2 or 3 in future.

Lining up R2's dismissive comments against R2's paper ought to be awfully damning.

Let R2 go around saying 'sure I'm a shithead, but so are a whole bunch of other people.'


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 8:34 AM
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Is "acceptable" defined tautologically as whatever people are getting away with? Then sure, this is acceptable. But "acceptable" doesn't really paint a picture of a big group of disenfranchised people who all dislike a practice but have no way to address it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 8:36 AM
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30: I'm sort of confused along the same lines. Like, if this were literal plagiarism, with the same sort of proof FSP says there is, getting caught would be maybe not quite career ending, but close. Here, I get the impression that the best case, if everyone in the field ends up knowing all the facts, is that everyone in the field thinks "Christ, what an asshole", and is extra cautious about telling the reviewer everything, but nothing really happens to him.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 8:37 AM
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34 sort of to 33: What I, and I think Brock, are boggling about is that I can process "people get away with it because it's hard to catch them", which would mean that the practice is unacceptable but there's still a lot of it, but it seems as if the situation is more "even when you catch them, nothing happens to them," at which point it does seem like the behavior is 'acceptable' in the field, even if everyone thinks it sucks.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 8:40 AM
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34: yeah, I guess I'm not understanding why or how this would be considered differently from "literal" plagerism, but it seems like it is.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 8:43 AM
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36: I'm as puzzled as you are.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 8:46 AM
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Outright fraud (that is, fabricating results) is career ending. Incompletely citing your sources, though apparently clearcut in this case, less so.

The review and the finished MS from the referee would allow people in the field to assess how novel the idea was and how identical the methods were. If these really do line up, the documents would likely result in some loss of influence-- people who are undecided about whether to share data with the guy or invite him to give an important talk would choose someone else. The editor of the journal where R2's MS wound up could require an erratum acknowledging the other paper, like a retraction when a reporter gets something wrong.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 8:47 AM
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the documents would likely result in some loss of influence

Yeah, that sounds to me like "The conduct is socially disapproved of, but not really unacceptable." I figure there's got to be some principled distinction between this sort of thing and plagiarism that would make sense if I were in the field, but from outside, I'm baffled.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 8:53 AM
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I'm really outside this world, so I don't know. Everything I'm saying is just the impression I get from my dad and uncle. But they tell these stories with the palms-up what-are-you-gonna-do? bent. They make it clear that they've lost all respect for the asshole in question, but I've never asked how widespread that lost respect is, and if it's career damaging.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 8:55 AM
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IANAS, but in conversations with friends who are, I've (in the past) been quite shocked at what goes in the paper publication process. Like the utterly naïve assumption on my part that people listed as co-authors on a paper actually had anything to do with the paper at all, or even, for that matter, as _primary_ author.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 8:55 AM
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I know of a couple of cases in my own field of faculty who straightforwardly stole an idea from a graduate student paper and then went on to publish it themselves.

Can you imagine how betrayed a grad student in this situation must feel? Faculty elsewhere: a conniving lot, up to no good, surely. But one's own faculty are supposed to take a protective/supportive interest in one. Even worse: imagine if it were your advisor.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 8:55 AM
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Incompletely citing your sources

This is a gingerly way to say "stealing other people's work/ideas".

It's weird to me because I've often thought that plagerism was probably over-prosecuted in the academy, since, e.g., insufficiently modifying a generic paragraph from someone else's already-published book for use in your own book doesn't really seem like an egregious thing to do, although people get in a lot of trouble for that sort of thing. And I've always thought this strict policing made rough sense as a prophylactic preventative measure, since worse cases of plagerism really are a big deal. And yet, there's this, which strikes me basically as plagerism of the very worst sort, and the general reaction is "meh... happens all the time"?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 8:58 AM
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People like Ambrose (a) in a very different part of the academy (but one not too far removed from Gonerill's) and (b) prosecuted in part for thinking small and in part for having the tastelessness to plagiarize from published sources.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 9:01 AM
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Insert an "are" between "Ambrose" and "(a)".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 9:02 AM
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It's pretty common for people working on the same problem with the same tools to have the same ideas. These people also talk to each other.

It's not like signing your name to a poem-- lots of useful published work is looking at a widely-understood likely important case with the newest generation of some technology.

Formally, the erratum or possibly the withdrawal of the paper is the punishment.

I've gotta go here- but credit allocation (which is what we're talking about) and mapping lab work to papers are both messy, in the sense that the formal structures (papers with enumerated authors and citations) don't reflect the social reality of progress or of communication between groups very well in the best case. There are definitely distortions from that best case due to self-interest.

The shitty act in the case at hand is IMO not the theft of an idea (maybe, maybe not, need complete docs and field knowledge to say), but rather the unjustified rejection of a manuscript in order to get the result into print first.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 9:09 AM
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Brock, even with this story (which really does sound straightforward and egregious), there are still shades of gray.

The key 'graf is here:

My colleague, now even more enraged, was able to document the existence of this "new" manuscript, complete with date of submission, showing that at the very same time FS2 was taking an unusually long time with the review of our manuscript, he initiated research on the same topic, submitting his own manuscript soon after his second, savage review of our manuscript.

I think the words on which someone could quibble would be on "showing" and "initiated." Say FSP publicly named names, called out this asshole and accused him of stealing her ideas. What would be the response? "I didn't initiate research in response to getting a request to review, I was already working on the question addressed by both manuscripts." (In my experience, this happens a fair bit... someone finds out they have a competitor, and they "accelerate" their own research program. Ethical? It's a gray(er) area than simply "stealing" an idea.)

Maybe the rival professor says, "the request to review FSP's manuscript was sitting on a pile of papers on my desk for six months... when I dug it out, I realized that it coincided with my own research in several places, but their analysis was wrong. I simultaneously told them that their analysis was wrong, and finished off my own paper showing how to do it right."

Maybe there's another person involved. The rival professor says, "I gave the paper to one of my graduate students to review, as an exercise, and signed my name to it after reviewing the report for minimal accuracy (if not tone). At the same time, I was finishing my other manuscript which had long been in preparation..."

Maybe the rival professor says, "I told the editor, when he gave me the manuscript to review, that I was working on a competitive approach. They had no problem with that at the time."

FSP's story seems straightforward, and is probably right. But there are always shades of gray. And, as many people have pointed out, the risk-vs-reward of pursuing this kind of thing is biased against a presumption of foul play. In some ways, that's reasonable -- there are a lot of suspicions that fly around like this, all the time, and they don't all have merit.

What's the best thing to do? Let both papers get published, swear never to work with (or near) this asshole scientist, gripe about it over beers with anyone who will listen, and ... get on with the science.

That's just my opinion, I guess. I could have a much more cynical attitude about this than is appropriate. It's also likely that norms for this vary wildly among fields -- it actually matters which sort of science FSP is doing. In astronomy and physics, I get the impression that this stuff is much less acceptable. But in other fields (coughbiologygeneticsandgenomicscough) people are much more paranoid because this sort of thing is easier to get away with.


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 9:11 AM
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It's pretty common for people working on the same problem with the same tools to have the same ideas. These people also talk to each other.

This is also completely true. You'd be surprised (maybe) at how many good ideas are just "in the air." A lot of people have the same idea at the same time, and it ain't all plagiarism.


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 9:13 AM
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The shitty act in the case at hand is IMO not the theft of an idea (maybe, maybe not, need complete docs and field knowledge to say), but rather the unjustified rejection of a manuscript in order to get the result into print first.

That was my initial thought as well, but 8/11/12 made think the opposite.



Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 9:13 AM
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It's pretty common for people working on the same problem with the same tools to have the same ideas. These people also talk to each other.

I feel like I'm repeating myself, but again, this strikes me as something that would make it very difficult to prove wrongdoing, not something that would make everyone just shrug whenever clear evidence of wrongdoing arises.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 9:15 AM
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This is a place where publicly archived preprints can be quite handy. I once, as a referee, got a paper from Famous Professor X and students, which applied X's pet notions to system Z. It seemed familiar but it was definitely not something X had done before. A little hunting at arxiv.org confirmed that I'd seen this case treated about a year earlier by Middling Professor Y as part of a criticism of X, who of course was not cited, and that only new stuff in X's paper, which would serve as a rebuttal to Y if one had read both, was in fact done wrong. X's paper even cited some of Y's earlier work, and subsequent preprints by others which cited Y's preprint, but there was a conspicuous gap where that citation should have been. And because these preprints all had public time stamps, it was pretty obvious that the timing fit. I laid all this out in my report and got X's paper squashed. Could I prove that X had read Y's paper and assigned some grad students to attack it and not even mention its existence? No; it's conceivable that X just happened to decide to look at system Z and duplicated everything Y did. Since X directs his own institute and is much loved by the science ministry in his home country, it didn't seem worthwhile pursuing it. But...


Posted by: Cosma Shalizi | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 9:16 AM
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I can see that 'stealing ideas', while it might be shitty, couldn't possibly be punishable as plagiarism because of the 'good ideas are in the air' problem. But torpedoing someone else's paper as bad work, while publishing a similar paper yourself, has to be wrong somehow.

Is there a standard code of conduct for reviewers, spelling out what's ethically okay and what isn't? And if not, shouldn't there be?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 9:18 AM
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I was already working on the question addressed by both manuscripts."

Doesn't his comment that "the questions [FSP] addressed were not of interest" clearly forestall this explanation?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 9:18 AM
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I've gotta go here- but credit allocation (which is what we're talking about) and mapping lab work to papers are both messy, in the sense that the formal structures (papers with enumerated authors and citations) don't reflect the social reality of progress or of communication between groups very well in the best case. There are definitely distortions from that best case due to self-interest.

From talking to one friend, in a science field, it sounds like distortions and deviations from anything that would remotely count as best practice are near enough the norm among her colleagues: with a lot of trading of co-author credits; people who have access to funding streams using that to acquire publication credits on work that they've had nothing to do with in any way shape or form; and lots of other examples of what sound like really terrible practice to me.

I'm not talking about cases here where the final paper is the product of lots of work in a research group, and where any one individual's contribution may be hard to precisely enumerate, so the paper gets 'authored' by the team [even if the bulk of the work is by one individual]. I'm talking about cases where people who have power/influence get credited despite having made no scientific contribution at all.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 9:19 AM
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Being an academic researcher sounds truly awful.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 9:22 AM
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But we can wear facial piercings with reckless abandon.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 9:24 AM
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52: But torpedoing someone else's paper as bad work, while publishing a similar paper yourself, has to be wrong somehow.

Yes. I have always understood that it's not ok even to say "hey, this paper I'm refereeing has a great idea, I think I'll use it', unless you can somehow properly credit the authors, and make sure your work doesn't come out before theirs.


Posted by: Cosma Shalizi | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 9:28 AM
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From talking to one friend, in a science field, it sounds like distortions and deviations from anything that would remotely count as best practice are near enough the norm among her colleagues: with a lot of trading of co-author credits; people who have access to funding streams using that to acquire publication credits on work that they've had nothing to do with in any way shape or form; and lots of other examples of what sound like really terrible practice to me.

And if you're a federally-funded researcher, you are (quite correctly, I think) obliged to make the details of your lab set-up and samples of, say, your bacterial strain available to other researchers. It is apparently not uncommon for a senior important researcher to request instructions covering the complete lab set-up of a junior researcher at another institution plus samples of the junior researcher's bacterial strain/house-made reagents/etc--the entire structure of the project that the junior has built up. Then the better-funded lab can continue the work, trumping the junior lab, beating them to publications and developing an edge in grant-writing.


Posted by: Rosalind Franklin | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 9:36 AM
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47: In my own fields, I could imagine being in one of those situations*, but not imagine at least citing the MS. I'd reviewed in my own paper, at the very least in a "please don't confuse me with those idiots" way. I understand from my kith and kin that biologists have different customs.

*: But if I assigned the report to a student, I would be expected if not required to tell the journal/conference. I did a fair amount of refereeing that way when I was working on my doctorate.


Posted by: Cosma Shalizi | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 9:36 AM
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I've heard amusing stories about a researcher in [sorta-kinda Cosma's field] who wrote a number of fairly forward-thinking but incredibly mathematically dense and nigh-incoherent papers in the '70s, and who has spent the decades since bitching that nobody ever cites him when they stumble upon a similar concept decades later and publish a comprehensible, useful paper about it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 9:36 AM
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57 has to be the wrongest, most uninteresting comment in the history of Unfogged, maybe even of blogs.

My own understanding is that it's not ok even to say "hey, this paper I'm refereeing has a great idea, I think I'll use it', unless you can somehow properly credit the authors, and make sure your work doesn't come out before theirs.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 9:37 AM
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Wait, what? You can use someone else's great idea if you properly credit them and publish after him. That's how you build on someone's work.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 9:42 AM
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60: "Cranky guy who wrote incomprehensible mathy papers in the '70s" doesn't narrow things down very much.

61: Awww.


Posted by: Cosma Shalizi | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 9:44 AM
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I haven't read the whole thread, but to 42: I have been in that situation (though as a bystander, not as the cat's-paw who was told to use method X on sample Y while the paper doing just that sat on the advisor's desk). I left the lab. There were other issues, but that was the last straw.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 9:44 AM
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61:the wrongest, most uninteresting comment in the history of Unfogged, maybe even of blogs.

I am incredibly excited by this challenge.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 9:45 AM
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62 "and publish after him" s/b "below the fold in the newspaper article that describes your groundbreaking paper."

and

"build on someone's work" s/b "publish in a journal with a glossy cover."

Fixed that for you.


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 9:48 AM
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65: That is indeed a difficult challenge, as "wrongest" and "most uninteresting" would seem to be directly at odds with each other.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 9:51 AM
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65: May I propose: "There is an integer between 2 and 4, but it is not 3, and its true name and nature are not to be revealed."


Posted by: Cosma Shalizi | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 9:52 AM
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R2 didn't just sit on the manuscript. He made bogus comments, including that the topic wasn't worth pursuing. He's wrapped a lot of rope around himself, and just needs the right kind of kick.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 9:57 AM
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68: Fails on the "most uninteresting" prong on the challenge--too much of an air of mystery to it. It verges on proposing a Taoist algebra, e.g., "The 3 that can be talked about is not the real 3."


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 9:58 AM
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ob. book: The Dispossessed, Ursula LeGuin


Posted by: joel hanes | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 9:59 AM
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I discovered another meal between brunch and lunch.


Posted by: H. Simpson | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 10:00 AM
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I saw a citation (penultimate para.) today which suggested that 4% of American are diagnostically sociopathic, but the guy quoting it seemed to think it didn't apply in academia. Maybe the take away from this is that he's wrong about that.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 10:03 AM
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What did Adelle do with all that junk, all that junk inside her trunk?


Posted by: will.i.am | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 10:14 AM
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73: 73: Narcissistic link-whoring version.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 10:15 AM
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70: The true Tao is incomputable.


Posted by: Cosma Shalizi | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 10:16 AM
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73: Only 4% sociopaths, and only 4% narcissists? That's not the country I live in, pal.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 10:17 AM
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70: Prove it.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 10:17 AM
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Dammit.


Posted by: will.i.am | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 10:23 AM
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79: Taking "Let's Get Retarded" a little too literally?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 10:24 AM
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80 is better if you imagine it intoned in the same way as the opening question of a segment of Marketplace. God I hate that show. Spatulas down.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 10:29 AM
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Fields where priority is established by who published first are insane. That's just begging to have problems like this come up. (That said, if this were me I'd want the reviewers head on a pike.)

Math doesn't work at all this way, posting to the arXiv certainly establishes priority, and even speaking on a result at a conference is enough that people will acknowledge your work. Last year we announced a somewhat big result at a conference (finished the preprint maybe 6 months later, still in the refereeing process because we're aiming high) and it turned out someone in the audience had been working on the same problem and had plans to solve it during a trip to visit a collaborator the next month. But there was never any question that they were going to try to rush through and scoop us.

Another example, in one of my subfields there's a brilliant top researcher who never actually writes up anything. This is a big pain for everyone, but whenever people use results that person has announced (but never bothered to write down!) they always cite that person and name the thing after that person.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 10:30 AM
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This comment is doubly tentative because I haven't read all of the comments, and I only think that this is the video that I'm thinking of (since I can't watch youtube at work), but if it is correct, it's a fantastic scene.

"It is worth remembering, that it is much more disheartening to have to steal than to be stolen from, hmmm? "


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 10:38 AM
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Finally, a thread that makes me feel better about the humanities (sorta, kinda).


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 10:39 AM
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Obligatory Tom Lehrer reference.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 10:39 AM
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Yglesias on an analogous problem.

Another way of putting Brock's 43 is "the police here are so vigilant about cracking down on three-card monte and other hustlers—what do you mean the department's corrupt?".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 10:44 AM
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I was seriously inconvenienced in grad school by an issue triggered by credit-sharing failure, unfortunately too pseud-blowing to relate here.

If you are a sociopathic senior researcher, there is a right way to do something like this:
(1) receive a paper for review that is interesting and for which you have all the facilities to duplicate the results.
(2) hand paper to a grad student to review, and ask them to duplicate the results. Be sure to indicate that you think the paper is crap and that you want them to duplicate the results purely to show their chops in the lab.
(3) Grad student writes a savage review in order to suck up to you. Send the review to the journal editor.
(4) when the results from your own lab come in, have the student write them up, ensuring sufficient minor deviations from the original to convince the student that their work goes beyond the victim's work in substantial and original ways. This will work because grad student doesn't know shit and is completely dependent on you for everything from paycheck to self image.
(5) Submit paper to a journal you know to have a fast review process, with grad student as first author.
(6) if the shit hits the fan, blame everything on the grad student. Your reputation will ensure that the holes in your story are read as being minor errors of a busy and brilliant man (let's face it, it's most likely a man pulling this kind of shit).

The upside if you aren't caught is another publication, a grad student with an additional paper under her belt (let's face it, this kind of bullshit works much better when the mark is a woman). The downside is merely loss of a grad student, and there's plenty more where she came from. Quite likely you can make a play for sympathy from colleagues over your betrayal by such a promising student, and your general absent mindedness over the whole thing just goes to show that your scintillatingly brilliant mind is preoccupied with unraveling the mysteries of the universe, leaving you vulnerable to manipulation and deception by mere credit-grubbers.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 11:06 AM
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14: Glad to hear things have worked out!


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 11:08 AM
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Oh, and congratulations to Heebie for resolving some of the issues around her paper.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 11:10 AM
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Now she just needs to resolve her issues with assgrabbing.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 11:11 AM
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I wonder what causes the different norms in different fields about when advisors put their names on their student's papers. For example, my understanding is that in CS it's de rigeur, while in math advisors only coauthor papers that they've done a significant amount of work on (and even then they might let the student be the only author). But it's very hard to think of any concrete reasons for Math and CS to be different.

(On the other hand, in math everyone knows who is whose student and people often assume that grad students papers are to some extent the work of the advisor no matter whose name is on it. You often in informal conversations people say "yeah, that's in a paper of X's student" without mentioning the name of the student which they've forgotten.)


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 11:17 AM
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Quit trying to incite breech of peace, M/tch.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 11:19 AM
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There is an integer between 2 and 4, but it is not 3, and its true name and nature are not to be revealed

This is one of David Stove's examples of pathological thoughts (all about the number three) from his essay What is wrong with our thoughts?. Stove also had a candidate for the worst argument in the world. (He wasn't immune from pathological thoughts himself.)


Posted by: Gareth Rees | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 12:22 PM
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93: I put it in quotation marks and everything! (Further to Stove.)


Posted by: Cosma Shalizi | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 12:29 PM
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Semi-related, in terms of professionals acting like shocking assholes, I just found out that a lawyer, whom I knew and didn't think to be an awful person, and who was very accomplished and had a successful legal practice, committed fraud in one of the ballsiest ways I've ever heard: he completely fabricated a sexual harrassment lawsuit--sending a fake complaint to one of his clients, and then spent several months billing them for "working" on it (including ginning up false witness and expert depositions, etc.), until he finally "negotiated" a large settlement for the case, which his client paid, with the money going into a personal account that he'd set up for that purpose. Wow. And he was only caught months after the fact, when the client happened by chance to see one of the experts who'd supposedly been involved in the case, and mentioned something about it, and the expert said he had no idea what the client was talking about it.

(Although, unlike academics who apparently just shrug their shoulders at this sort of unethical behavior, the lawyer was disbarred and is now in jail.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 12:52 PM
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95: What an asshole! I can't believe he stole my idea!!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 12:55 PM
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95: Wow. Wow.

Didn't he, like, know the purported plaintiff?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 1:03 PM
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95: Drug problems or keeping his pecker in his pocket problems?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 1:07 PM
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Holy crap.

He really should have also faked out the expert witnesses, to flesh out the lie.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 1:17 PM
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99: Exactly - don't people realize how useful it is to set up a shop when you're doing a long con?


Posted by: Cosma Shalizi | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 1:22 PM
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As has already been mentioned, the biggest difference between this, fraud and plagiarism is that plagiarism is trivial to prove and fraud is relatively easy to prove (either it works or it doesn't) and this is fiendishly difficult to prove.

So Famous Professor 2 submitted a paper (similar, but presumably not identical). So he submitted it after receiving a review copy. He can always say he got the idea independently. He can always say he had been working on it before. He can always say the review got lost or delayed in all the other important stuff he's doing. And that's assuming it's as clear-cut as FSP believes it is.

When these cases can actually be proven, they come down hard. One person in my field was found to have stolen ideas from a federal grant application he was reviewing. He was banned from receiving grants from that organization for 15 years. It's just that it's almost impossible to prove.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 1:30 PM
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When these cases can actually be proven, they come down hard. One person in my field was found to have stolen ideas from a federal grant application he was reviewing. He was banned from receiving grants from that organization for 15 years. It's just that it's almost impossible to prove.

To this outside observer, that wouldn't qualify as "coming down hard".


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 1:38 PM
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Didn't he, like, know the purported plaintiff?

Didn't who know? The client? If that's the question, then yes, but I understand they weren't on speaking terms.

Basically, what happened is that an employee left on bad terms, with possible allegations of sexual harrassment floating around, and all that was discussed with the attorney, and then when the attorney found out that the former employee wasn't going to sue*, the attorney basically decided to take matters into his own hands.

*That part is inference, but it has to be true, right? It wouldn't have made any sense to launch the scam if a legitimate suit could have come out at any moment. I'm not sure exactly how he would have found out that she wasn't going to pursue a lawsuit, without his client knowing, but it's plausible.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 1:39 PM
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Peer review is worse than useless, film at 11. (Will read the whole thread and comment more later. For now: preprints are one solution to this problem.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 1:43 PM
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So he submitted it after receiving a review copy. He can always say he got the idea independently. He can always say he had been working on it before.

A bunch of people have suggested this, but it still seems to me to be a reaction to the "normal" situation, not taking into account the facts at hand. Saying he got the idea independently or that he was already working on it are both completely incompatible with saying the questions addressed in the paper "were not of interest". (And using the same methods to address the questions is incompatible with the claim that the methods were flawed.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 1:44 PM
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105, see 87.4. Some sames are more same than others.

And to the OP: The first thing to do is always to go straight to the editor who handled the paper with all the evidence. If ignored, go to the editor-in-chief.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 1:49 PM
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Saying he got the idea independently or that he was already working on it are both completely incompatible with saying the questions addressed in the paper "were not of interest".

This sounds right to me. From the sorts of things the actual science types are saying, it sounds as though the explanation is that there's a culture of allowing absurdly weak defenses in this sort of situation to go unquestioned -- all the evil reviewer has to do is say something, anything, and the question gets put aside as unresolvable.

Maybe the issue is that there's no enforcement body whose job it is to evaluate the issue; like, I'm a little confused about exactly who comes after you for plagiarism (your department fires you? Your university administration formally sanctions you somehow?) but whoever that is appears to think of this sort of behavior as outside their purview.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 1:50 PM
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101,102: No grants from one organization may or may not be coming down hard, depending on the field. In Neuroscience it'd be a firm slap in the face. In Plasma Physics it'd likely be the end of your career, except in the unlikely event the organization in question was not the US Department of Energy.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 1:55 PM
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107.2: Maybe the issue is that [a portion of] the academic workforce is very deeply invested in ensuring that there is no enforcement body with the power to sanction their work in any but the most clearcut and absurdly outrageous circumstances.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 1:57 PM
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84 Given the recent Figes scandal, I'm not sure that's a reasonable feeling.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 2:00 PM
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Is part of the problem that in a lot of these fields there aren't a lot of people that know enough about it to determine what's going on? And of the people that do understand the field they almost all have a stake in either maintaining this person's reputation or in undermining it?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 2:03 PM
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Brock, referee reports are not legal documents. People referee voluntarily. The quality of what is written in referee reports is all over the place-- aside from malice, incompetence and inattention are also serious problems. Perhaps it is a background context of having read these indifferently dashed-off reports that is responsible for the different perceptions. It is not widely accepted that these things should be signed; think about that. What if judges were anonymous?

The impulses to make review more formal and procedurally transparent have occured to other people also-- as others have said, a preprint archive is clearly a viable fix for the worst abuses. Some fields have explicitly rejected this option, though, and I'd rather not go into the simplest political explanation for why this is so. It's unlikely that fixing symptoms like referee plagiarism will do much to improve matters, though.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 2:06 PM
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111

Partly. See the famous adage about politics and academia.

But also, plausible deniability+fame+power = acquittal.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 2:09 PM
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112: most things are not legal documents. They can still be very good evidence of wrongdoing, and that's true both in a legal sense or in a lay sense.

It sounds like the academy is just not very interested in pushing back against this sort of behavior, despite its surface similarities to traditional plagerism. Maybe LB is right that the problem is there's no real enforcement body (although that doesn't seem to be a problem when traditional plagerism is at issue).


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 2:16 PM
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Very weird--I actually knew how to spell "plagiarism", and I thought "plagerism" looked really funny, but I kept spelling it that way because I thought everyone else was too, and I was too lazy to look it up, so I just assumed that I was wrong (since most of you are usually far better spellers than I am). But I just now looked it up, and it's definitely "plagiarism." And now I'm searching back through the thread, and it looks like I'm the only one who's been spelling it incorrectly. I have no idea how that happened.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 2:21 PM
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I see Cosma and Commenter beat me to my point about preprints. It's strange to me that most fields are so very preprint-resistant; there's really no downside, as far as I can see, except maybe in some fields the need for a granular enough classification system that people can find what's relevant and not get overwhelmed.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 2:22 PM
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I see Cosma and Commenter beat me to stole my point about preprints.

Fixed.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 2:28 PM
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116: The downsides are (1) having to actually think through the implications of having preprints available and (2) having to figure out this newfangled gimcrackery with the tubes and whatnot. Given that the people with the power to move the standard operating procedure of an entire subfield are likely to be crotchety geezers fully invested in the system that brought them to their current high standing, both are substantial obstacles.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 2:45 PM
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I'd think (with no actual knowledge, just guessing on what seems likely) that the existing journals would hate pre-prints, to the point of refusing to publish papers that had already been released. Is that an issue?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 2:47 PM
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Existing journals should be allowed to wither on the vine.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 2:50 PM
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119: No, most journals now allow people to post preprints or just have copies of their papers posted on their website. In my field at least, if journals rejected papers that had been posted to arxiv, the journals would die. Lots of senior people, and even a few brave junior people, don't even bother with journals anymore.

As for 118, Gin/sparg wasn't so old when he started arxiv. I guess several influential people were behind it, but the preprint culture in the field long predated the internet (used to work via old-fashioned mail!). So I think you're right about cultural inertia and needing important people to support a change, but I'm not sure if technology-wariness is an important factor or not.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 2:55 PM
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120: A lingering death. No kidney donations for existing journals!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 2:56 PM
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Peer review is worse than useless, film at 11. (Will read the whole thread and comment more later. For now: preprints are one solution to this problem.)

Why do people say "film at 11"?


Posted by: Cryptic need | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 2:56 PM
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Ask the Jargon File!

I wish I could just go to arxiv and create a philosophy subdomain.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 2:58 PM
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Academic editors of existing journals (no younger than boomers) as well as their for-profit publishers can effectively lobby against accepting any kind of preprint+open review option possible, yes.

Existing journals that have open review policies now do not always attract the best work; the various BioMed Central journals are one place to look at existing open review journals.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 3:00 PM
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124: I see that that thing has a definition for "nailing jelly to the wall", but not for its synonym "herding cats".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 3:01 PM
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Not synonyms.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 3:06 PM
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My favorite internet cliches are the ones that replace one word with...the same word, plus about a dozen other words. For example: Which is more entertaining?

A) Where's Bob Johnson?
B) Paging Bob Johnson. Bob Johnson, report to the white courtesy phone.


Posted by: Cryptic need | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 3:08 PM
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"herding cats" isn't (tech-specific) jargon.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 3:08 PM
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Herding jelly cats using Pink Floyd's The Wall.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 3:12 PM
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125: yeah, as with everything, this is strongly field-dependent. My field has only 4 journals, to zeroth order, 2 of them Elsevier and thus shunned by decent people who are well-informed. The other two are fairly equivalent and at least one of them has a streamlined interface for submitting papers via arxiv.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 3:12 PM
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Oh, but you said open review, which is orthogonal to the preprint issue and nonexistent in my field.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 3:13 PM
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Nailing green jellied herring to the wall.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 3:14 PM
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124: There's a philosophy of science archive, hosted across the canyon from me at Isengard Pitt.
They didn't just copy the arxiv.org machinery, which is weird...

120, 122: I would prefer to see re-education rather than sheer liquidation.


Posted by: Cosma Shalizi | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 3:15 PM
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There's more to philosophy than of science, though, and in a properly regulated world phil of science would just be one of the subcategories of philosophy on an arxivalike if not arxiv itself.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 3:18 PM
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open review, which is orthogonal to the preprint issue

That family of journals publishes the preprint as well as referee reports.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 3:23 PM
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I wish I could just go to arxiv and create a philosophy subdomain.

I can understand why it's a limited set of topics -- the funding for its maintenance is an ongoing problem -- but the choice of topics is a little weird. They recently added "quantitative finance", which seems questionable.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 3:26 PM
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131: so field dependent that I've never heard of arxiv. Looking at it, there is one category that is kind of remotely related to what I do: Populations and Evolution. Which is kind of weird. I guess what they mean is a combination of Ecology and Evolution?

Also in my field, authors don't seem to be able to post copies of their articles on their websites.


Posted by: hydrobatidae | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 3:37 PM
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One of the weirdest corners of the internet is vixra.org, started by a bunch of disgruntled crackpots who couldn't even get their papers past the minimal filtering at arxiv.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 3:44 PM
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And one of the most brilliant is snarxiv.org, which automatically generates a page of titles and abstracts that to someone unfamiliar with the jargon should look indistinguishable from the hep-th section of arxiv.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 3:45 PM
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140: I bet the people who thought the postmodernism generator was the final word in the culture studies debacle feel pretty conflicted about that.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 3:47 PM
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Finally, a thread that makes me feel better about the humanities (sorta, kinda).

In the humanities, it's the Amazon reviewers you have to watch out for.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 4:26 PM
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I'm already behind the news. Further to 142.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 4:31 PM
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Further to 142 and 143. Also, backstory.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 4:59 PM
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2 of them Elsevier and thus shunned by decent people who are well-informed

Wow - your field, too? I thought it was just chemistry...


Posted by: Klug | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 7:32 PM
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Having belatedly read the link in the post it appears the reviewer hasn't "published" his own paper yet but has just submitted it which changes things a bit. Apparently there has been a letter to the editor but it is unclear whether this is the editor of the original journal or the journal the reviewer submitted to. There is a case for protesting to either (or both) but there are some problems in complaining about a submitted manuscript that you may not be supposed to have access to.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 8:41 PM
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5

Math is generally held to be much more gentlemanly about this sort of thing than the other sciences. For example, (I've told this story before), a grad student in our department had a great result, and was scooped by a senior professor elsewhere. There was no foul play, just one of those simultaneous discoveries. The senior professor was widely held in contempt for not allowing the grad student to have the result.

This would be a nice gesture but I'm not sure I would expect it. I believe simultaneous publication is sometimes arranged when there is independent discovery of a result.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 8:43 PM
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52

Is there a standard code of conduct for reviewers, spelling out what's ethically okay and what isn't? And if not, shouldn't there be?

I am unaware of any such code. Some journals provide guidelines for reviews but as I recall they aren't concerned with this sort of thing. Perhaps there should be a code but it would be difficult to establish and enforce. One problem is reviewing is pretty thankless work already and trying to impose serious obligations on reviewers would make it even harder than it already is to get reviewers.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 8:53 PM
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137:

the funding for its maintenance is an ongoing problem -- but the choice of topics is a little weird. They recently added "quantitative finance", which seems questionable.

Oh, now, surely one clause there explains the next? Some of the quants must still be rolling in it.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 9:52 PM
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