Tag Archives: plagiarism

NSF voids punishment of scientists who committed plagiarism and data fabrication

An inspector general report has found that the National Science Foundation has routinely cancelled or reduced the punishments of scientists who had committed either plagiarism or data fabrication, allowing them to continue to get grants and advise the government.

The inspector general for the National Science Foundation identified at least 23 instances of plagiarism in proposals, NSF-funded research, and agency publications in 2015 and 2016. It found at least eight instances of data manipulation and fabrication in those years. NSF officials disregarded recommended sanctions against some of the scientists and academics implicated in those findings. Though many were temporarily barred from receiving additional federal funding, nearly all will be eligible for taxpayer support and official roles in NSF-funded research in the future.

In one investigation that concluded in Nov. 2015, the IG found that an NSF-supported researcher had “knowingly plagiarized text into five NSF proposals.”

“These actions were a significant departure from the standards of the research community, and therefore constituted research misconduct,” according to a report on the investigation’s findings.

No wonder the public has become very skeptical of government science. Worse, by turning a blind eye to this bad behavior the National Science Foundation ends up giving a black eye to all science.

The geography of scientific plagiarism

A review of the text of hundreds of thousands of papers submitted by scientists worldwide has revealed the countries from which plagiarism is most likely.

Researchers from countries that submit the lion’s share of arXiv papers—the United States, Canada, and a small number of industrialized countries in Europe and Asia—tend to plagiarize less often than researchers elsewhere. For example, more than 20% (38 of 186) of authors who submitted papers from Bulgaria were flagged, more than eight times the proportion from New Zealand (five of 207). In Japan, about 6% (269 of 4759) of submitting authors were flagged, compared with over 15% (164 out of 1054) from Iran.

The global map illustrating this geography at the link is quite fascinating to peruse, as it generally shows the cultural roots of plagiarism. Happily, western culture does not appear to be the source.

“2012 was the worst year for fabrication and plagiarism since I began collecting data in 2005.”

The sad state of modern journalism: “2012 was the worst year for fabrication and plagiarism since I began collecting data in 2005.”

Silverman runs the website Regret the Error, cataloging journalistic errors and misconduct. This is his summary of this past year, and it ain’t pretty. The worst part is that there were a number of journalists on this list — CNN host and Time magazine editor Fareed Zakaria being the most prominent — who were caught either faking their stories or plagiarizing the work of others who were let off with a mere slap on the wrist. Consider that the next time you listen to Zakaria on CNN.