Re: ATM: Snake in the Grass Edition

1

"That's my work, I'll let you off for now with being my live-in house servant for a year. Duties to include buttering my toast and corresponding with persistent creditors. Please advise as to your availability to start; I am not a patient woman.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 6:26 AM
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I'm not clear about why confrontation is completely off the table. I realize it makes things uncomfortable, but this is straightforward theft, which ought to be enough to get Snake thrown out of decent academic society.

This hits somewhat close to home, as my grad school career was horribly disrupted by someone pulling a very similar stunt on my advisor, leading him to leave the university I attended in a huff rather than confront the bastard who was stealing his work product.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 6:27 AM
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Holy crap does this post play directly to my anxieties right now. Not that any situation I'm in is remotely bad like this, but I am getting worried that a project I helped create/had the idea for is getting pulled away from me and don't quite know what to do. Nggg!

Anyhow, I think you should write a straightforward email to snake in the grass, saying "this seems to be what happened. Maybe you forgot this, this and this times I used those figures, and accidentally pasted in the writing? I would like you to contact the journal and see if there's any way they can credit it. If you don't want to do that, I'll be happy to."

But I don't fucking understand how it works in academia either and it's stressing me out.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 6:27 AM
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whatever authority punishes plagiarism

Hahahahahaha.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 6:29 AM
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Mme Curie seems way too gentle about this. Why do you have to mention it "casually" to Snake? Why not ask him straight-up, directly? If he can't answer to your satisfaction, then I would proceed to contacting the journal directly with some evidence that he submitted your work under his name. I don't think you have to go ballistic and threaten to destroy people, but you also don't have to take the super-high-road and pretend that nothing improper happened.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 6:30 AM
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More seriously, would not an approach to the "colleagues at his institution" (or most theoretically reasonable colleague if you are familiar enough with them to make that assessment) be in order? I am guessing they were not aware of the provenance (maybe I'm wrong) and the degree of perfidy, and would have a significant self-interest in cleaning things up quickly (or closing ranks against you--but knowing their stance early on is probably good information to have).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 6:30 AM
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3: I'd even leave out the 'maybe you forgot'. Not opening with words like plagiarism and theft initially, but nothing to let him off the hook, just identifying the stolen work, and demanding the letter to the journal.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 6:31 AM
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I quite like Andrew Gelman's tone when discussing plagiarism and other scientific misconduct. Totally matter-of-fact, willing to give people the benefit of the doubt, but untroubled about laying out the facts of the matter as clearly as possible, no matter how damning they may be.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 6:31 AM
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I mean, you've got solid proof. You've got the emails with the text you wrote, and you've used the figures in public.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 6:32 AM
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Further to 6: The colleagues are now involved no matter what transpires; and I would not be inclined to leave the initial "framing" of the situation to Snake.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 6:33 AM
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So, maybe I was wrong about academia? I thought all the academics were going to understand the problem with saying "Comply with my demands or I will end your career," even though I couldn't see it. But maybe there is no problem with doing that?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 6:35 AM
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7,9: yeah. I think my instinct was that there's something of a tradition in science of couching even bald accusation of misconduct in the language of mildly hedged empirical conclusion-seeking. So saying "look, I know you stole this stuff from me. I'm going to the journal next, but you could maybe make it all go away by working with me." might come off as even more escalating than it otherwise would.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 6:36 AM
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8: yeah, Gelman is terrific on this.

6: I wouldn't contact Snake's colleagues, among all the people you could contact they probably have the least incentive to do the right thing.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 6:39 AM
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Oh, I think you're right about not saying 'stole' immediately. I just wouldn't use language that suggests any innocent explanation like 'you forgot' -- I'd keep it to the sort of thing you suggested in 8: an objective statement of what happened and what needs to be done to fix it.

I assume that a published letter from Snake in Journal saying "Due to my error, Mme. Curie was omitted as a co-author on the review, which was in large part her work," will be recognized as an admission that he did something very bad.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 6:40 AM
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a project I helped create/had the idea for is getting pulled away from me
I had this happen to me. In fairness, I was rather unreliable at the time and he did a much better, more thorough job than I could've, and he came up with the more scientifically interesting part independently (I had figured out this part much earlier, but my one attempt to explain this to the PI was met with incomprehension and I didn't have all the parts in place to demonstrate it more concretely).


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 6:40 AM
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Vengeance will be mine, though.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 6:40 AM
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And I wouldn't do anything gossipy/backchannelly (that is, raising it gently with his colleagues). That seems to me to have potential for leaving it swept under the rug with the appearance of your consent. I'd go (a) to him, then if that doesn't work (b) to the journal, and then (c) broadly public or to whatever the appropriate authority if there is one.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 6:42 AM
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17: I'd start with finding a trusted colleague and running all this past him or her to get a reality check. But after that the steps you suggest seem to me like the right ones.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 6:46 AM
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I had figured out this part much earlier, but my one attempt to explain this to the PI was met with incomprehension and I didn't have all the parts in place to demonstrate it more concretely

Nnnnnngggg.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 6:47 AM
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Guilty author, please acknowledge receipt of this message. Below is the text I sent to you as a draft on April 1 2007. I presented figure 7 of the paper at conference X, 2008.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 6:50 AM
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If SiG and SJwHIF2 won't do the right thing on their own, the editors at SJwHIF1 may be useful allies since they're in a position to confirm aspects of your story and may have an interest in discrediting SJwHIF2...


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 6:52 AM
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(whatever authority punishes plagiarism)

"Comply with my demands or I will end your career,"

It is flattering to know that outsiders believe we have a formal and fair system for dealing with one of the most serious forms of misconduct in our profession, and that wrongdoers are given severe penalties. Clearly university PR departments are doing a good job.

Sadly, as Blume indicates in 4, there are no formal or fair mechanisms for deciding these things. In fact, it is all about power. And people who have enough of it take credit for the work of others all the time.


Posted by: Abraham Lincoln | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 6:52 AM
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If SiG and SJwHIF2 won't do the right thing on their own, the editors at SJwHIF1 may be useful allies since they're in a position to confirm aspects of your story and may have an interest in discrediting SJwHIF2...


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 6:53 AM
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The theft of work product I alluded to in 3 was hilariously acknowledged (grudgingly) by the snake who ended up presenting a lovely carefully laid out very professional looking poster with my advisor's name crudely scrawled in by hand next to his own. It was bloody obvious to everyone who saw the poster that shenanigans were afoot.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 6:54 AM
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24: that's amazing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 6:55 AM
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Oh hey we forgot to ask the most important question: does M. Curie have tenure, or some other sort of permanent position? It sounds like it kind of, but could well be not?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 6:57 AM
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Damn "remember personal info" box.


Posted by: Abraham Lincoln | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 6:58 AM
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Wow. I think I would email him and his coauthors with a polite but firm statement that the text and figures in their review were originally written by you, and you want credit for them. The coauthors presumably don't know, and presumably will be really angry with him when they find out.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 6:58 AM
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I figure if she's calling herself the grand old lady of the us field, not having tenure would be odd enough that she'd have mentioned it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:00 AM
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26: I assume that Grand Old Ladies have tenure.

I can't help but think M. Curie's niceness here is an example of a problem women have in advancing to the top layers of science. Although it would be much better if the men in the field became nicer, rather than forcing the women to become meaner.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:01 AM
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Ooh, 28 is good. Totally cc the coatuhors.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:01 AM
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Sometimes things produced in collaborative efforts seem to be in kind of a grey area. There have definitely been times when I worked with people on something for a while, and then we all got distracted / lost interested / concluded it wasn't going to work, and later someone involved picks it up again and finishes something without the full group, or with other people, where inevitably some of the ideas originally formed in collaboration with other people find their way into the final product. That seems common and not really a bad thing, and in any case usually the original collaborators get thanked in the acknowledgments or something. But explicitly reusing figures and text that someone else prepared? That seems egregious.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:06 AM
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My inclinations in such a situation (if I judged it would be worth the time and irritation) would be to figure out who my allies would be, which of those allies has more power than I do, and then pressure Snake that way.

There isn't a Board of Bad Professors, so the only way this happens is through informal policing, and the only way that happens is to get other people on your side.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:06 AM
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-ed


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:07 AM
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It feels presumptuous to give advice in this thread, since presumably anyone who is a Grand Old Lady is far more experienced about dealing with these things than I am?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:08 AM
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28 sounds like a good first step. I would also consider contacting the journal immediately as well, so that SitG doesn't have too much opportunity to poison the editors first. But I'm not sure on that point. Something like "Substantial parts of that paper were taken directly from a draft of my work. I've contacted the authors directly and trust that they will be sending you a correction, but thought you should know immediately.

Is there some seriously eminent ally you can call in on this if things need to escalate?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:10 AM
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Pwned by Cala. Also I agree with 35.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:12 AM
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35: Might as well just throw it out there and let the Mme. Curie figure out the good advice from the bad.

I think she should email everyone involved a meme of Grumpy Cat with the words "Theft makes Grumpy Cat grumpy" on it.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:15 AM
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If M. Curie's scientific backwater actually does involve dangerous levels of ionizing radiation the available set of retributive actions might be larger.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:18 AM
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As a Grand Old Lady of the Field, surely you should be able to Grandly and Professionally nuke the little snaky prick from orbit. By all means give him and his colleagues a chance to fix it first, but then, I mean, really.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:21 AM
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If its a field that uses LaTeX, then having the source is pretty definitive proof to the journal if they need it.

It's too late now, but I would have assumed the response to getting scooped in those circumstances would be "hey editors, you accidentally asked multiple people, maybe the papers should be combined or both published together since this was your screwup."


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:24 AM
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In my field there's a really well-known example of someone stealing someone else's work. I think they were both grad students at the time-- maybe young postdocs-- and one of them had a really significant new idea. The other took the idea and went to the Biggest Bigshot around and presented it as his own; the two of them wrote a paper together and now it's somewhere in the 1000-citation range. The guy who actually had the idea complained to people, showed them the timestamps on his computer files, etc., and the Biggest Bigshot apologized. Now both the guy who had the idea and the guy who stole it are tenured faculty at prestigious universities; the guy who had the idea has done pretty well but has had a less successful career overall than the guy who stole the idea.

I don't really know what the moral of this story is; it's a weird situation. Everyone knows what happened, but it doesn't seem to have stopped the idea-stealer from continuing to be a reasonably successful member of the community.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:28 AM
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39: Dear colleagues,
You will not have noticed the invisible yet potent powder attached to this email, but if you are aware of my eminence in the field (and if not, you soon will be) you will know that "potent" is not an idle threat. I would advise you not pretend to yourselves that you are in control of events when perhaps you are not. And it is always one's stance upon uncertain ground that invites the attentions of one's enemies. Or discourages it.

So now, in the matter of note x to journal y ...


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:28 AM
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Let's not be hasty here. Have you considered the possibility that this is all the fault of Snake's research assistant?


Posted by: Opinionated Juan Williams | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:29 AM
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Here's an update on the situation. I did phone Snake-I didn't think I would be able to strike the right tone of righteous indignation by e-mail. After some sputtering and weak denials ("didn't I contact you? I thought I did."), he admitted his perfidy. I told him that I didn't want the situation to escalate, so I needed him to fix the problem right away, by contacting SJwHIF2 and explaining that there had been an "unfortunate oversight regarding co-authorship". I asked him to cc me on all messages. So far, he has sent an e-mail saying that he needs to speak to the editor. Meanwhile, I spoke to a Grand Old Man at my institution, who knows all Official Policies. He advised me that Large but Disorganized Funding Agency (who funds both me and Snake) requires that those with knowledge of scientific misconduct report it via official channels, or they themselves could be held liable as well. By coincidence, Grand Old Man is married to an administrator who handles these cases and can help. Right now, if Snake follows up and SJwHIF2 can rectify the situation, I don't need to report it. That would be the best possible outcome. I may not have mentioned that Snake strikes me as a person who is quite emotionally fragile. There were rumors, for example, of a suicide attempt some years ago. My biggest nightmare is that I have to report it, and that Snake ends up offing himself because of it.


Posted by: Madame Curie | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:30 AM
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Second half of 43.1 ripped off from an Anton Chigurh speech in No Country For Old Men.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:30 AM
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45: sweet! So this is less an "Ask The Mineshaft" than a "let the Mineshaft watch while you take that little punk to school". I like it!

I wouldn't worry about his mental state. Not because it's not a worry, but because what can you do, really.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:36 AM
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Also maybe somebody should fix the email address in 45.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:36 AM
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45: great!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:39 AM
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I don't know how anon MC wants to be but maybe someone should remove the email address in 45


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:42 AM
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Madame, your concern for this person's well being does you more credit than he deserves.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:42 AM
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I did phone Snake-I didn't think I would be able to strike the right tone of righteous indignation by e-mail.

This is great. Didn't give him the chance to sit back and carefully compose a reply.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:43 AM
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pwned by 48

Also calling him "Snake" for short is mildly confusing because I keep thinking "Plissken."


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:44 AM
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53 was me

And yeah, this is great.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:45 AM
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sweet! So this is less an "Ask The Mineshaft" than a "let the Mineshaft watch while you take that little punk to school". I like it!

Ditto!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:46 AM
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51: "Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?"


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:48 AM
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45.last: Thereby setting up the plot of Gaudy Night.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:49 AM
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51 -- My reaction too. Fragile people shouldn't be doing stuff like this.

I hope he has a firm deadline to get all appropriate corrections made before, sadly, your obligation to report kicks in. (And that the editor understands that a report is the required consequences of failing to correct, rather than just some bruised academic ego).


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:49 AM
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I do like the suggestion in 1. Further points of clarification: my position is indeed secure, so I don't have to worry about that. It's my reputation that I don't want besmirched (as I pointed out to Snake, there were plenty of people in the room hearing me talk at the conference in October, who might now conclude that I had stolen figures from him rather than vice versa). I may be known as a Grand Old Lady in my very obscure subset, but that, unfortunately, doesn't mean I have much power otherwise. If I had it, I would like to use it only for good ("I'm a good witch, not a bad witch." 30 is spot on regarding women's niceness). You would think that my long experience (read:old hagdom) would have given me the tools to handle anything, but this is really an extraordinary situation-even Grand Old Man was astonished. Usually people are more subtle in their dishonesty. In a perverse way, that is somewhat exculpatory for Snake because it is so blatant and the evidence so clear cut. It speaks to some form of temporary insanity, especially since there is no possible benefit to Snake in doing what he did. As for the co-authors, I believe they are innocent (however, I did point out to Snake that I actually contributed more to the review than any of them did!)


Posted by: Madame Curie | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:54 AM
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I have changed the email address which Mme. Curie left in the comment box, and which she was probably saving for a comment under her own name. You can thank me later: it was the right thing to do, so virtuous and so easy.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:54 AM
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I did it again for the comment in 59, but it's going to start look purposeful, Madame, if you keep it up!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:55 AM
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60 Your work is not done noble nosflow. See 59.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:57 AM
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What about 59, smart guy?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 7:59 AM
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In a perverse way, that is somewhat exculpatory for Snake because it is so blatant and the evidence so clear cut. It speaks to some form of temporary insanity, especially since there is no possible benefit to Snake in doing what he did.

I wouldn't go down the road of thinking of this as exculpatory. There are people who systematically get away with egregious behavior by counting on this kind of reaction.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 8:00 AM
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Arrgh.

As an addendum to 1 he should wash, wax and detail your car.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 8:00 AM
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63 Who you calling smart? Not me, not today.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 8:01 AM
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Sadly, as Blume indicates in 4, there are no formal or fair mechanisms for deciding these things. In fact, it is all about power. And people who have enough of it take credit for the work of others all the time.

Indeed. I think this is fairly rare in my former discipline as it's not one that really features much collaboration and has no competition for research funding. However, a friend who works in a related discipline (but science, so not a million miles away from Sifu's area) has endless horror stories. I can't remember the last time I met with her when she didn't have another, 'And then Professor X threatened colleague Y, so now X is first author on Y's paper, even though the X knows nothing about the topic, and the paper was already written before he saw any of th work' type story.

Just endless endless stories of people having their work outright stolen, or at least shared with others. Lots of dividing of credit in ways unrelated to the work.

'So, Dr Z let Ms. P tag along on the research trip so should could interview Z's subjects on a topic entirely unrelated to Z's work. So, of course, Z is second author on the paper, and now Z's applying for funding for P's topic. P (sole originator of the core idea) is now going to be credited as Z's assistant.'


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 8:01 AM
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That's antiphrasis for you.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 8:02 AM
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I can't help but think that he might have done something like this before. Maybe not quite as egregious but enough that other colleagues will have gotten a glimpse of his true character.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 8:03 AM
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Say what now?


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 8:04 AM
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57: Is he married to his landlady's daughter? And is she batshit crazy?


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 8:05 AM
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I think this is fairly rare in my former discipline as it's not one that really features much collaboration and has no competition for research funding.

Same for lit, though it will sometimes happen when someone unearths or draws new attention to a previously neglected text, and then other people jump on it. I've heard of more instances in art history, where finding evidence of the use of some technique or convention earlier than previously thought can be real news.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 8:07 AM
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Lots of dividing of credit in ways unrelated to the work.

Ugh. I feel like my grad school advisor should have done less work, just to prepare me for the future. I got bent out of shape as a postdoc about the faculty member who thought that frequently asking me "so, how's the paper coming along?" and occasionally making a moderately helpful suggestion entitled him to being a coauthor, but what I've had to put up with lately is much worse even than that.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 8:08 AM
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re: 73

Yeah. My friend's stories all sound to me (as a non-scientist) like instances of straightforward corruption, and while in some cases she's able to persuade me that it's an understandable if unpleasant result of collaborative working or funding allocation, much of the time, even after lots of explanation, it continues to sound like academic corruption. My friend spends half her life in Machiavellian scheming, it sounds like, just to retain credit for enough of her own work to progress.*

* admittedly, with some success. She's a full Prof at a European university, and isn't 40 yet.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 8:13 AM
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I think I'm actually withdrawing from one collaborative project that was originally my own idea. It's been taken over by people who I never wanted to work with in the first place, and who have forgotten I thought of it first.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 8:15 AM
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In a perverse way, that is somewhat exculpatory for Snake because it is so blatant and the evidence so clear cut. It speaks to some form of temporary insanity, especially since there is no possible benefit to Snake in doing what he did.

Thinking you're going to get away with stuff like that is the standard mentality of Homo Asinus.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 8:16 AM
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And I'm still annoyed by the senior physicist who, when I was a mere grad student, corrected a very minor error in one of my papers that didn't actually affect the results, repackaged it as his own idea (including a footnote summarily dismissing my previous paper due to the minor error), aggressively marketed it, and collected way more citations than my paper got.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 8:17 AM
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I can kind of imagine scenarios; Fragile Snake has told collaborators about project, but omitted his junior status. Colleagues are all excited. Project lies briefly fallow, but then Fragile Snake gets asked about it or gets a request or whatever, and has already claimed that the project is complete. Fragile Snake, worried about losing face with the colleagues there in front of him, and not doing a good job of thinking about 1) consequences or 2) colleagues not right in front of him, throws together the material he has on his drive as a draft.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 8:18 AM
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Re: 78. Institutional pressures may have indeed driven Snake to do what he did. The dynamics at his institution are somewhat dysfunctional and there appears to be an unhealthy competition among the scientists there for recognition that is counter-productive (as opposed to my institution where it all sweetness and light, of course). There were mutterings about Snake from his colleagues in the past, which I had disregarded-nothing too serious, and I had attributed them to professional jealousy, since they all seem to mutter about each other to anyone who will listen. Snake is mid-career, in a secure position, so I'm not sure why he feels he has to do what he did. People are strange.


Posted by: Madame Curie | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 8:51 AM
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. . . Snake strikes me as a person who is quite emotionally fragile. There were rumors, for example, of a suicide attempt some years ago. My biggest nightmare is that I have to report it, and that Snake ends up offing himself because of it.

I had a relative who was into "... or I'll kill myself!" You're emotionally blackmailing yourself instead, he doesn't even have to do the work.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 8:59 AM
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79: could just be nuts, too. It remains academia.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 9:24 AM
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59: I do like the suggestion in 1.

Good. And just to make it explicit, I chose "buttering my toast" for it's IYKWIMAITYD potential.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 9:31 AM
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Chocolate-covered academia nuts are the best.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 9:35 AM
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11

So, maybe I was wrong about academia? I thought all the academics were going to understand the problem with saying "Comply with my demands or I will end your career," even though I couldn't see it. But maybe there is no problem with doing that?

I think I would go directly to trying to end their career. I don't like the "comply with my demands" as that smacks of blackmail to me. As a practical matter I would talk to people at my institution first about the best way to proceed.

Of course ending their career might be a lot of work. When this (plagiarism) happened to me I ended up doing little out of laziness. Not that the villain has exactly escaped notice.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 9:36 AM
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I second 3, 10, 13, 22.. oh, hell, everything.

I am incredibly lucky that I naturally work in version control, or I wouldn't have the idea that got me out of Incompatible Lab (which is also an idea with some legs, I hope). I had to explain version control to two PIs and te department ombusdman, I have the *only* wroiteup and working code, and a fellow student still argued -- I must be imagining things, but I remember this as literal -- ``I would have had that idea!''

And then after my first conference I got email from Young Prof A telling me he thought Young Prof B was going to steal part of my work, so I slapped a draft on arXiv, which is *really* rare in one of my two fields. And sent mention to the two Grand Old Men of the topic. That seems to have worked, but Im still at risk. Oy.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 10:13 AM
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||

Does anybody know how to get sense out of the powers that be at Google?

I'm getting a stream of automated emails informing me that my main account is my recovery address and that it's associated with eight accounts that I've never heard of before. It is in fact Mrs y's recovery address, but her main account isn't one of the eight. I'm not a happy bunny. Nothing on Google's FAQ pages suggests how I could disassociate these people, and anyway I want to know how this happened. Experience tells me that if you can find an enquiry address at Google and send them a question, they ignore it.

Any ideas?

|>


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 10:35 AM
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To the OP, is there any possibility that Snake can be formally punished in some significant but not career-ending way? Because letting him off the hook after publishing a "correction" in the journal seems way too lenient.

FWIW, in the horror stories I've observed and heard about, everyone always seemed to think that you shouldn't pursue the matter formally -- that the costs of going through an official academic discipline process are way too high, both in terms of effort and potential damage to reputation. Maybe that's true. In a way, though, I just think it would be good for the community to see an incident like this get resolved properly now and then.


Posted by: YK | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 11:19 AM
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I don't know, but I'd think that a 'correction' would be pretty significant -- it seems like an implausible thing to happen accidentally, so it's effectively a public confession of wrongdoing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 11:27 AM
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Presumably it's been linked here before, but do you all know about Retraction Watch? It makes for interesting reading in a train-wreck sort of way.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 11:37 AM
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89: did you see Gelman's? That cracked me up.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 11:39 AM
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Re 88: The reason I don't think publishing a correction is sufficient punishment, is that it looks exactly like some trivial thing unless you read the fine print. Most people would assume the correction is for a missing reference or an unfortunate typo, not a MISSING COAUTHOR.

I was thinking of something that at least gets written up in Snake's performance record. Maybe a temporary suspension on taking on new grad students?


Posted by: YK | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 11:53 AM
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Maybe a temporary suspension on taking on new grad students?

Hahahahahahahaha.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 11:58 AM
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I was assuming that Snake runs some kind of lab that requires grad students to keep it going. If Snake is a theorist, we could come up with some obnoxious pre-publication review process for me. Come on, vengeance can be fun!


Posted by: YK | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 12:08 PM
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OK, now I am on a different computer and I hope that the e-mail address snafus have abated. It's going to be expensive for me to have to buy a new computer every time I want to comment... 84 is fascinating in a train wreck sort of way. Marcu's behavior is so pathological that it's actually funny, and that means victims of his plagiarism can afford to let it go, because everyone in the affected field presumably knows what is going on. Snake isn't up to that level, so I have to do something. I have now contacted the publishing company of SJwHIF2 with an explanatory e-mail and a request to forward it on to the appropriate editor (whose contact information is not easily available, undoubtedly to protect him from cranks like me). This is insurance in case Snake falters in his resolve to rectify the situation. Otherwise I have no choice but to report the misconduct via official channels; it's been made clear to me that, in failing to do so, I myself could be held accountable. Not sure what happens to Snake in that case-loss of all or a portion of his funding, perhaps.


Posted by: Madame Curie | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 2:27 PM
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This thread has put the Paula Abdul song "Cold Hearted Snake" in my head, very unfortunately.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 2:29 PM
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loss of all or a portion of his funding, perhaps

I bet. My institution had a case of serious academic misconduct a few years ago and Different Large Disorganized Funding Agency was very clear that my institution had better jump when they say jump during the investigation lest DLDFA pull all DLDFA funding from the institution -- which would have been many, many millions of dollars, I imagine.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 2:33 PM
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95: You're a monster. Maybe I'll go download it illegally to get some retribution.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 2:44 PM
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87

FWIW, in the horror stories I've observed and heard about, everyone always seemed to think that you shouldn't pursue the matter formally -- that the costs of going through an official academic discipline process are way too high, both in terms of effort and potential damage to reputation. Maybe that's true. In a way, though, I just think it would be good for the community to see an incident like this get resolved properly now and then.

I don't see the costs as being that high in this case (easy for me to say of course). In part because Madame Curie has higher status. Also the case seems clear cut. How hard would it be to make a formal complaint to the appropriate authorities at Snake's institution? Of course they might not do too much but that's on them.

I think the risks are when the case isn't clear cut and people aren't sure who to believe or when you get into an argument about whether the punishment is severe enough.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 2:49 PM
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86: The easiest way (barring having an official email address to send that kind of problem to) is to have a friend inside Google who is willing to do a little research and forward your request to the appropriate mailing list inside the company. Barring that, it might be a good idea to attach your email address to your question here, so that on the off chance someone from Google happens to read it and be willing to help, they could contact you individually off-blog to discuss. (I think there may be at least one friend of the blog who currently works at Google.)

The fundamental issue with why it's so hard to email Google is that (1) it isn't economical for Google to provide individual tech support for all the free services they provide and (2) in the absence of (1), any contact email/phone they do provide quickly gets overwhelmed by people seeking free tech support for "how do I search for x?" and "how do I optimize my web site for y?." So getting support for real problems often comes down to having individual contacts who are willing to do you a favor.


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 3:11 PM
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Is it true there are journals whose editors straight-up assign submissions to grad students to copy and publish first, Lobachevsky-style? My high school chemistry teacher said this happened to him.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 3:19 PM
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100: Can you rephrase that somehow? I'm not really clear on what you mean, and "Lobachevsky-style" isn't making it any clearer to me, unless it involves a Korean dance craze imported to hyperbolic space.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 3:32 PM
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100, 101: "Plagiarize! Let no one else's work evade your eyes!"

Does anyone else find it funny that Tom Lehrer and Steven Sondheim attended the same summer camp? What was in the water there?


Posted by: Count Fosco | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 3:49 PM
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Tom Lehrer is/was a math prof, right?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 3:51 PM
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Oh, you're saying editors are asking their own students to duplicate people's work, and then publishing that instead? Seems hard for me to believe, but maybe in parts of academia that are structured differently from my corner.

Still confused about Lobachevsky. Tom Lehrer spread malicious rumors about him? I thought he invented hyperbolic space independently of the others.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 3:55 PM
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104.last There was not supposed to be any malicious truth in the song. The name just lent itself to the music, I believe.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 3:59 PM
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100

Is it true there are journals whose editors straight-up assign submissions to grad students to copy and publish first, Lobachevsky-style? ...

I don't know about that but a professor at my grad school would hand out copies of papers they had received to referee to a graduate seminar course for the students to critique. Sometimes they came up with improvements and got added as co-authors. As far as I know the original authors never objected to this but I think there was some potential for trouble.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 4:04 PM
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105: so he claims now!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 4:32 PM
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I actually never thought the name fit the music particularly well.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 5:16 PM
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88

I don't know, but I'd think that a 'correction' would be pretty significant -- it seems like an implausible thing to happen accidentally, so it's effectively a public confession of wrongdoing.

Well it depends on how the correction is worded. If it just says something like "Madame Curie was inadvertently omitted from the list of authors" people might just assume the journal had fouled up.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 5:29 PM
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Re: 109-this particular journal prints full color photos of the authors in the bodies of the papers they publish, so it's doubtful that anyone seeing a correction would assume that the omission of a co-author was their fault.


Posted by: Madame Curie | Link to this comment | 03-21-13 5:41 PM
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Well done, Mme. Curie! I'm glad to hear you're holding SIG's feet to the fire.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-22-13 8:55 AM
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101: I doubt that you would be scooped on the Tom Lehrer/Psy mashup, essear.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 03-22-13 11:24 AM
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86, 99: Late to the party here, but there is at least one friend of the blog who currently works at That Company. He can be contacted by some cursory snooping around the metadata of this comment.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 7:15 PM
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