Nielsen-Gammon interviews North and others on Wegman – plagiarism may be related to a cultural misunderstanding by foreign exchange student

I’m surprised too, at the reaction of North and others. They may have a point.

Wegman: A Surprising Reaction

by Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon at the Houston Chronicle’s Climate Abyss

I spread the word yesterday to my colleagues about Wegman begin caught in a plagiarism scandal and his paper on the social networking of climate change researchers being withdrawn by the journal (see USA Today coverage here and here; for extensive details see deep climate).  I’d been following the work of Deep Climate and John Mashey with some interest, not least because Wegman’s report was in effect a competing report to that issued by the National Research Council committee headed by Gerald North, whose office is down the hall from me.

Jerry North’s reaction was a surprise to me:

Ed Wegman is the very guy who testified alongside (but against) me in Congress in 2006. We sat side by side for four hours under the gun. Ed and his former [student] Said wrote a contrarian report to the NRC Committee (“Hockey Stick”) report that I chaired. Then later they published it in the journal referred to in the articles.

While I cannot excuse the academic crime of plagiarism, I do feel somewhat sad that this episode has reached this stage. I think Wegman is a well meaning person who was a victim of plagiarism by a foreign student who probably did not understand this ‘strange’ American custom. Having just read a biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer, I can feel for someone who is being vilified perhaps more for the (perhaps foolish) position he has taken in the past than for the ‘crime’ itself.

Could this be a ‘gotcha’ for ClimateGate? Institutions cannot take this kind of heat without throwing someone under the bus. I hope George Mason University can take it.

That prompted a followup comment from climate scientist and former colleague Tom Crowley, now at Duke University: most recently at the University of Edinburgh:

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Read the whole essay here, well worth it.

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57 thoughts on “Nielsen-Gammon interviews North and others on Wegman – plagiarism may be related to a cultural misunderstanding by foreign exchange student

  1. Self-plagiarism? Is that some made up stuff?

    Of course, now my interest is piqued. Where’s Mosh when you need him.

    “[name of famous paleoclimatologist redacted] had some pet idea that couldn’t get published some time back. Eventually it wound up in [journal name redacted] – completely inappropriate journal that had, surprise, an editor who was a former student. ” <———— Who's that guy?

    I've got a wiff of some really good irony here.

  2. The obvious question – how does it happen that a paper appearing under Wegman’s name was part-written by a foreign exchange student? Uncredited? And what happened to the journal’s peer review?

  3. Nick Stokes says:
    May 18, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    The obvious question – how does it happen that a paper appearing under Wegman’s name was part-written by a foreign exchange student?
    ======================================

    IDK Nick, what does this statement mean to you? What does it imply?

    “and such a fate could have happened to a lot of us (“there but for the grace of God go I”…..)”

  4. Interesting – there are climatological cutting and pastings in Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon papers. E.g. this string “This period corresponds to typical summertime
    emissions and meteorological conditions in this region.” appears verbatim in both http://geotest.tamu.edu/userfiles/231/p75.pdf and http://meto.umd.edu/~zli/PDF_papers/Fan%20et%20al.%202005JD005805.pdf (which are apparently different papers – the author lists are different, anyway, if not all the words). This is a trivial sentence, but I suspect that the chances are that one of these instances preceded the other, and that the other was a direct copy. And I’m quite sure that there are many other small examples of cutting and pasting in climatology…

  5. Nick, I don’t excuse either the student nor Wegman for the failure to cite. Question, though, was the uncited part key material that was germane to the findings, or was it background information?

  6. forgive me if this seems too off topic, but since it is a current story about what is and what isn’t a lie it struck me as germane. Also, although it concerns a political character I do not cite it to indicate any approval or disapproval of any political views; I just think it is a humorous insight on the use of language today.

    SO, a couple days ago Newt Gingrich was being interviewed about some comments he made last weekend, and he said “Any ad which quotes what I said on Sunday is a falsehood, because I have said publicly those words were inaccurate and unfortunate.”

    In other words, “Anyone who quotes the words I actually said is a liar!!!”

    what a world, what a world!!!

  7. Wasn’t the stuff that was ‘plagiarised’ simply terminology and definitions but not chunks of someone else’s true scientific work? In effect the dodgy content was largely immaterial to the conclusions? Storm in a teacup is my impression. And incidentally students in France are noted mostly for their ability to parrot their profs, not their ability to think for themselves. One key test to get into the big grad schools is too effectively summarise a big report, not to analyse/critique it.

  8. wws says:
    May 18, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    SO, a couple days ago Newt Gingrich …….
    =========================================
    lol, yeh, old Newt. I have no idea what he was thinking or if dementia has kicked in but he should eliminate any thoughts he had about running for pres. Repubs have two main factions. Moral conservatives and fiscal conservatives. His divorcing his ailing wife screwed him with the moral cons. His mouthing of the budget plan screwed him with the fiscal cons. He has absolutely no chance of winning anything. I seriously doubt he could carry his home state.

  9. Nick, the paper was written by the student with Wegman as one of the several co-authors. That is why you will see referred to Said et al, rather than Wegman et al.

  10. Doug in Seattle says:
    May 18, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    Nick, the paper was written by the student with Wegman as one of the several co-authors. That is why you will see referred to Said et al, rather than Wegman et al.
    ======================================

    Yeh, character assassination by proxy. How come we don’t hear the outrage towards the other co-authors? Oh, wait, they probably didn’t make their precious hockey stick players look like buffoons on capital hill.

    Tom Crowley was right! “It is very easily to be overly righteous on this matter, and I am sure many will seize this for their own venal purposes.”

    And there isn’t a person on the internet that doesn’t copy and paste.

  11. Ummm…am I right in thinking that the only ‘crime’ committed here is that the guy copied a bit of text from wikipedia or somewhere and didn’t say so?

    Because away from Academia, that seems to be a minor infraction of a cosy convention, not a big problem.

    If he’d actually stolen somebody else’s original work and presented it as his own, then I could see the point, but this sort of spat just reinforces my increasing view that the world of academics is populated by a bunch of very thin-skinned dilettantes fighting among themselves.

    It seems to bear as much resemblance to reality as do the (in)famous untested climate models.

  12. Doug in Seattle says: May 18, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    Nick, the paper was written by the student with Wegman as one of the several co-authors. That is why you will see referred to Said et al, rather than Wegman et al.

    Doug, the paper is listed here. Which co-author do you think is the foreign exchange student that they are talking about?

  13. I think I must be missing something here.

    Is the accusation that the plagiarised material is inaccurate? If it is then the case made by the paper is undermined; if it is ‘stolen’ but nevertheless germane to the paper and correct, where’s the problem with the veracity of the report?

  14. Many students, no matter their origin, paste sections of text into their work files picked up from on-line sources. They then, because they are relatively inexperienced, get these copied tracts mixed up with their own commentaries and two years later when they start drafting their thesis inadvertently plagiarize. Unwittingly, when drafting a paper from one of the chapters for publication, some of this copied text is again inadvertently introduced. I and a co-supervisor working up the paper making corrections as we revise their work may spot the problems but then we may not. With a large number of doctoral students working in different areas inevitably they are more up to date with the certain aspects of the literature than we are. We might run the article through Turnitin and it comes out with a score of (say) 14% with individual items below 1% – a score of this level would not normally be regarded as significant and we dispatch the paper for publication. It is accepted.

    Some opponent for reasons we will not term academic decides to attack my reputation. It maybe that I have adopted a position on a subject of great international importance and I have identified serious inconsistencies in their work or have gone before a public commission with evidence that they – and their collaborators – have cornered the literature and are putting pressure on editors to reject otherwise excellent research with a critical or contrary perspective. They sift the paper for examples of plagiarism. Payback!

    So to any who find Wegman guilty as charged remember this: one day when you are a senior academic and when the fire of self-righteous indignation does not burn quite so bright, it might just happen to you.

  15. Nick,
    Clicking on your link gives the information below so it is pretty obvious that the exchange student is Yasmin H Said and the paper should be referred to as Said et al as Doug indicated.

    I think the plagarism comment is not to do about culture but about attention to detail. If the text plagarised is not considered by the authors as central to the novelty of their work then they may well resort to copying previous work. Indeed copying previous work may even be desired in order to show that they are not pretending to re-invent the wheel. The error in that case is not taking the care to correctly cite sources which is a common student error.

    It is one of the responsabilities of the co-authors to pick up these errors but nobody is perfect.

    The results of Nick’s link (http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1316213) :

    Social networks of author-coauthor relationships
    Authors: Yasmin H. Said Department of Computational and Data Sciences, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA
    Edward J. Wegman Department of Computational and Data Sciences, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA
    Walid K. Sharabati Department of Computational and Data Sciences, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA
    John T. Rigsby Department of Computational and Data Sciences, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA

    Social networks of author-coauthor relationships 2008 Article

    Published in:
    · Journal
    Computational Statistics & Data Analysis archive
    Volume 52 Issue 4, January, 2008
    Elsevier Science Publishers B. V. Amsterdam, The Netherlands, The Netherlands
    table of contents doi>10.1016/j.csda.2007.07.021

  16. OK – after further thought I think I have got it.

    The whole controversy (if indeed it is) only arises because two separate but related things have got seriously entangled..and it is difficult to unpick the one from the other.

    Q1: Has anyone shown there to be anything scientifically wrong with the work as published?
    A1: No

    Q2: Under academic conventions, should the whole credit for this work go to the stated authors?
    A2: Under academic convention, possibly not…there may have been a minor technical breach of the citations convention.

    Q3: Does the answer to Q2 mean that the actual content of the paper can/should be ignored/discarded?
    A3: No. The answer to Q2 has no effect on the paper’s scientific content.

    Q4: Is this row a storm in an academic teacup and largely irrelevant to the debate?
    A4: Yes

    Q5: Does it make some academics look like a bunch of self-important precious prima donnas, ever able to see the mote in another’s eye while missing the big picture?
    A5: I leave as an exercise to the lay reader……………..

  17. Back in the days before the internet, if you wanted to copy someone elses work it was likely that you had to read it at very least. Now big chunks of script can be pasted without any thought as to it’s meaning.

  18. Nick Stokes said on May 19, 2011 at 2:49 am:

    Richard,
    Yasmin Said was not a foreign exchange student – she was Associate Editor of the Journal where it appeared.

    So what are you saying Nick?

    This has been portrayed as Wegman bypassing peer review by submitting it to his friend who waved it through for publication.

    Is what really happened was an associate editor got a paper they lead-authored quickly published at their journal without peer review?

  19. The ongoing search for participants in the climate debate (or any other area of society, for that matter) that successfully hold themselves to the highest standards of scientific integrity is likely to take a while

    Diogenes is still looking.

  20. Don’t quote yourself without attribution.[1]

    [1]Watts Up With That, Nielsen-Gammon interviews North and others on Wegman – plagiarism may be related to a cultural misunderstanding by foreign exchange student, 18 May 2011, in the comments 19 May 2011 04:12 am.

  21. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says: May 19, 2011 at 3:26 am
    “So what are you saying Nick?”

    Mainly that an Associate Editor of the Journal is unlikely to be a foreign exchange student. And shouldn’t have a “cultural misunderstanding” about plagiarism.

    But there was something funny about the Journal process. It was over in six days.

  22. Nick,
    Yes I see that she was one of 50-60 associate editors for the 2006-2010 editions of the Computational Statistics & Data Analysis journal.

    It seems she completed her Phd in 2005 under Wegman’s supervision. I notice that the paper was submitted on the 8th July 2007 and accepted on the 14th July 2007 (available online 9 August 2007) which seems a rather rapid review process (maybe this is normal for this journal?). In any case she was Wegman’s student during her PhD and published the paper two years after finishing her PhD. At the time of publication she had already been Associate Editor for a year.

    I guess she had ceased being a “foreign exchange student” after she completed her PhD in 2005 and in 2007 had spent not more than two years as a post-doc or a member of faculty along with becoming an Associate Editor of Computational Statistics & Data Analysis in 2006.

    Although relatively inexperienced she should have known better and this should cast doubt on the quality of her reviews as an Associate Editor.

    My previous comments – that care should be taken to cite sources correctly and that it is one of the responsabilities of the co-authors to pick up these errors – still holds true.

  23. Bigcitylib:
    ‘The student’s name was Denise Reeves. Doesn’t sound very foreign to me.’
    What an extraordinarily ethnocentric view of ‘foreign’! In case you didn’t notice, there was a revolution a couple of centuries ago and the citizens of the United Kingdom are now ‘foreign’.

    Bob Ryan:
    Well put. We don’t publish much with our students in the social sciences, but your account is perfectly realistic for the natural sciences.

  24. Its like when a bunch of politicians start accusing each other of being partisan. Politicians are by nature highly partisan, but pretend to “reach across the aisle” as a point of honour. Yet when things get heated between them the first thing that can easily be claimed is that someone is being partisan. The rest of the naturally partisan politicians then point and feign indignation that someone has been caught doing what they all do every day. It’s like when the Capt. Renault character in Casablanca says; “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!” while stuffing his winnings into his pocket. It is extremely disingenuous of these people to be hopping about squealing about plagiarism of this kind. They are all guilty of the same thing.

  25. There are a variety of practices out there regarding author list. I know of lab and research department directors who insist on putting their name first, no matter who does the study, so that source citing will allow that person’s name in the article (IE Bigdeal, et. al.). These people like to see their name in print and pad their list of cited sources.

    However, the usual practice is for the actual researcher, who is often a Ph.D. candidate, to be listed first, followed by their supervisor.

  26. Just so I get this right, Wegman’s former PhD student earns her PhD, becomes an Associate Editor of Computational Statistics and Data Analysis Journal, co-authors a paper with Wegman in same journal, where the paper has a review period to acceptance of 6 days and deals with the social networks of authors and co-authors in which one of the main conclusions is that certain styles of co-authorship can lead to group-think, only to have the paper pulled after charges of plagiarism by one of the students named Denise Reeves who is of Asian descent?

  27. Richard says: May 19, 2011 at 5:06 am
    “maybe this is normal for this journal?”

    No, six days is fast – you can check from the link I gave. The following paper took 7 months in review – the preceding paper took two years. Ironic for a paper which is devoted to exposing chumminess among climate scientists?

  28. Remember all the claims that the issues revealed by the climategate emails did not materially change the “science”? Though they in fact did wildly change it. Am I wrong to think that Wegman’s problem was in the background material, and that it was just in the part of the paper where the procedure is explained? I would think anyone trying to replicate or improve on the experiment of another would have this problem even if it was not plagerism.

    But on the question they all claimed was the only relevent one in climategate, that of the effect on the underlying science, I notice an absolute silence. A total lack of even handedness, balance, self awareness, honesty, take your pick.

  29. Wegman needs to properly cite the sources and resubmit the paper.

    In the essay it mentions the Asian student had been in the states since the age of four. We need some info on where they went to school and for how long before excusing this lapse due to cultural differences.

  30. If what they’re saying is true about not understanding the culture, it doesn’t matter. The student is publishing in the western world and is getting his/her education there, so they need to learn the customs. Part of the job of the advisor is to teach that, and apparently Wegman failed there. I know my advisor put more effort into reviewing the manuscripts from his foreign students before submitting them for publication, so advisors need to be willing to accept that before taking those students into their research groups. I have heard the above excuse plenty of times and have even encountered it with people in my graduate lab. Yes, it’s real and you can find examples of it all over the place, but that doesn’t make it okay.

    I do find the 6-day peer-review process an interesting thing. People will say it’s common to take months or years, but that’s not always the case. I just got reviews back this morning from a paper submitted at the start of May, and that’s not abnormal in my field. The comments were minor enough that they could’ve all been addressed and resubmitted by the end of the day if I wasn’t too busy analyzing data for an upcoming conference..thus making the total process around 2.5 weeks. I’d say as short as 2 weeks wouldn’t be out of the ordinary at all, maybe even 10 days (though I’ve not heard of one that fast). I also know that the process at the journal can be faster when the submitting author is an editor…a previous postdoc in the lab I did my Ph.D. in had worked for a head editor at a journal, and the postdoc didn’t know the submission process for that journal, oddly enough, and he said that was because it was different for his advisor, already being the editor. (Anyone here work for a journal editor at any time to verify?) It makes sense that if a couple steps at the journal are cut out (though I don’t think they should be), it might shave a few days off of the process. Also, reviewers might be a bit faster looking over the work of an editor at a journal, but that’s just speculation. All that said, the 6-day turnaround still seems suspiciously fast to me…I’d wonder about anything less than 10 days (I haven’t personally seen anything less than 2 weeks). Given the political implications of the paper, it definitely raises question marks.

    -Scott

  31. Scott says:
    May 19, 2011 at 11:02 am

    If what they’re saying is true about not understanding the culture, it doesn’t matter.
    =======================================================

    I think the biggest difficulty here, is indeed cultural, but not in the sense described.
    Scott, you’ve dealt with academia probably most of your life. Many of us here don’t.

    To most of us that don’t there are only two questions. Did the authors try to pass the work off as their own? And does this effect the premise behind the paper? In other words, what effect does this have on the validity of the thoughts expressed in the paper. The rest is of little consequence to us……. it may have held more meaning if someone hadn’t brought up the ludicrous idea of self-plagiarism. I read that part and started laughing, thinking they should sue themselves for defaming themselves for not footnoting themselves. A clear act of negligence, casting themselves into poor light!

    I know in academia, dotting “i”s and crossing “t”s is a big thing. For those of us in real world land, function over form is king.

    You know, its weird, every time I see the word “plagiarism” the song “Glad all over” gets stuck in my head!!! Uhhhggg……. Beatle knock-offs!!!!

  32. James Sexton,

    Sorry to be pedantic but when you can work out in your own mind the difference between ‘affect’ and ‘effect’, I might take more notice of what you say.

  33. Dave Andrews says:
    May 19, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    James Sexton,

    Sorry to be pedantic but when you can work out in your own mind the difference between ‘affect’ and ‘effect’, I might take more notice of what you say.

    Well, he did get ONE of them right. ;)

  34. The reason there is so much plagiarism and statistical copying in the original Wegman report is that the authors had no knowledge or experience concerning its main subjects, climatology and social network analysis. So they copied from other sources, whether Wikipedia or Ray Bradley or McIntyre’s statistical code, to give a false impression of knowledge.

    The Said paper involved copying from something copied. It is the first retraction to hit Wegman’s team, but looking at some of the unoriginal material they have published even on non climate topics, I do not think it will be the last.

  35. I think many are missing the point that the plagiarism issue has nothing to do with Wegman’s confirmation that invalid statistical methods that were used in principal paleoclimatological papers. As I understand the issue, the withdrawn paper has no bearing on this, which was the primary thrust of the Wegman report.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong.

  36. D Johnson, it is not as you think that “many are missing the point.” Rather it is that many people such as yourself have not tried to read or understand any of the detailed analysis that look closely at the statistics of the Wegman report, and find them to be copied and wrong also.

    Over and over on this blog I see statements like yours, that Wegman’s statistical criticism is still valid. But no, much of it has fallen apart when other statisticians looked at it closely, and saw that Wegman’s claim of using a first-order process with weak autocorrelation could not possibly be true. You have to read other blogs, even ones you don’t like, to learn that news but it is not made up. Wegman’s report is out there for anyone to read.

  37. Dave Andrews says:
    May 19, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    James Sexton,

    Sorry to be pedantic but when you can work out in your own mind the difference between ‘affect’ and ‘effect’, I might take more notice of what you say.
    ===================================================
    Sigh, subtly kicks my ass again.

    Yah, ’cause it probably isn’t clear as to what I meant. Did you bother to read what I stated? Is it conceivable that what I stated and how I stated it was purposeful? Sorry, I went too far. I forgot I was on the internets.

    Let’s freaking review…….. I stated something to the akin of ……… oh heck, let’s just copy and paste….. and say it bold!!!!

    “I know in academia, dotting “i”s and crossing “t”s is a big thing. For those of us in real world land, function over form is king.”

    What does that mean to you? Tell you what Dave, I’ll take more notice to what you say when, 1) You can be less pedantic. And 2) you improve your reading comprehension skills.

    Best wishes,

    Suyts

  38. There is an unfortunate trend here.

    “was the uncited part key material that was germane to the findings, or was it background information?”

    “Wasn’t the stuff that was ‘plagiarised’ simply terminology and definitions but not chunks of someone else’s true scientific work? In effect the dodgy content was largely immaterial to the conclusions?”

    “Ummm…am I right in thinking that the only ‘crime’ committed here is that the guy copied a bit of text from wikipedia or somewhere and didn’t say so?”

    “Am I wrong to think that Wegman’s problem was in the background material, and that it was just in the part of the paper where the procedure is explained? I would think anyone trying to replicate or improve on the experiment of another would have this problem even if it was not plagerism.”

    “Did the authors try to pass the work off as their own? And does this effect the premise behind the paper? In other words, what effect does this have on the validity of the thoughts expressed in the paper.”

    “OK – after further thought I think I have got it.”

    John Mashey has been posting on this for more than a year. The plagiarism is gone through in great detail and these posts are easy to find – for anyone interested. It would seem that everyone commenting here has not read any of this material, and yet feel that they can hold an opinion, largely, that the plagiarism doesn’t matter as long as the content is true to the original (and variations on that theme). EG,

    “Is the accusation that the plagiarised material is inaccurate? If it is then the case made by the paper is undermined; if it is ‘stolen’ but nevertheless germane to the paper and correct, where’s the problem with the veracity of the report?”

    To answer some of the questions here (even the rhetorical ones), not only was text plagiarised, it was paraphrased, changing the meaning. In a given paragraph, one sentence might be copied exactly, then the next was rearranged and new words. Changes of meaning and emphasis resulted – in the direction you can imagine.

    According to Mashey, roughly half of the document was plagiarised.

    Before anyone else gives Wegman a free pass for shoddy work, imagine how you would respond if Schmidt, Hansen, Mann, Jones and the rest of the whipping-boy line-up presented supposedly original work that was found to be plagiarised. I think we all know that the milieu here and other skeptic blogs would heap scorn and derision, conclude that the author has no integrity, and that all their work should be summarily rejected. It wouldn’t matter a damn if a junior researcher did the plagiarising. And I think this is the mild version of how skeptics would take to the same story but cast with boffins from the other side of the fence.

    Wegman should be as accountable for academic dishonesty and intellectual rigour as the the Manns and Hansens. Giving him a free pass now simply exposes a double standard amongst AGW skeptics.

  39. Barry>

    Mashey’s an obvious chunk of nutbar, and his claims are ludicrous. He doesn’t know what plagiarism means, and most of the time apparently doesn’t even speak English. Find a better source.

  40. Mashey’s an obvious chunk of nutbar, and his claims are ludicrous. He doesn’t know what plagiarism means, and most of the time apparently doesn’t even speak English. Find a better source.

    Ad hom attack coupled with a false statement. Mashey found and documented real plagiarism. Three nationally known plagiarism experts contacted by a USA today reporter for an earlier story all agreed that what Wegman did was obvious plagiarism. Now the journal’s own review has reached the same conclusion.

    You might think plagiarism is OK for people you agree with, but that is a different argument than saying it is not there.

  41. BA says:
    May 20, 2011 at 8:00 am

    Mashey’s an obvious chunk of nutbar, and his claims are ludicrous. He doesn’t know what plagiarism means, and most of the time apparently doesn’t even speak English. Find a better source. <————- YOU FORGOT TO SOURCE YOUR QUOTE!!!!!!!

  42. The paper was a report to Congress, not a university.
    The material cited is almost textbook boilerplate, widely quoted by others, almost cliché.

    The only crime here is character assassination.

  43. “The paper was a report to Congress, not a university”

    Skimmed Deep Climate?

    The follow-up report was submitted for review at a science journal. It was passed in 6 days. That report included some of the plagiarised sections of the Wegman Report to Congress.

    I’ll say it again, if Mann, Hansen, Schmidt or Jones had work published with plagiarised sections of wikipedia and of science papers, character assassination would be a mild phrase for how people here would respond.

    The journal had no choice other than to retract the paper. Apart from the obvious academic dishonesty, the clear implication is that none of the authors had a firm grasp on the subjects so heavily plagiarised – social networking and dendrochronology. This becomes even clearer where the paraphrasing distorts the meaning of the original.

    This isn’t character assassination. There’s no need to suggest a dark purpose when incompetence is explanation enough.

  44. “The material cited is almost textbook boilerplate, widely quoted by others, almost cliché.”

    And yet the reviewers of Said, Wegman et al (2008), who are supposed to be experts in the subject, didn’t recognize it. Strange.

  45. From BA on May 19, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    The reason there is so much plagiarism and statistical copying in the original Wegman report is that the authors had no knowledge or experience concerning its main subjects, climatology and social network analysis. So they copied from other sources, whether Wikipedia or Ray Bradley or McIntyre’s statistical code, to give a false impression of knowledge.

    From barry on May 21, 2011 at 9:25 am

    Apart from the obvious academic dishonesty, the clear implication is that none of the authors had a firm grasp on the subjects so heavily plagiarised – social networking and dendrochronology.

    Now that you all have your talking points down pat, they’re still wrong. Knowledge of climatology or dendro was not needed as Mann’s statistical work was examined, which was examined by statisticians. McIntyre’s code was used as Mann was not forthcoming enough to allow replication of his statistical work.

    Moreover, not only was Said an associate editor at the journal Computational Statistics and Data Analysis, but Said and Wegman are 2 of 3 co-Editors in Chief of another journal, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Computational Statistics (WIREs: Computational Statistics).
    2007 reference:

    http://www.stat.wmich.edu/mckean/Simon/Guide-for-Authors.pdf

    2010 reference:

    http://media.wiley.com/assets/3002/50/WIREs_comp_stats_guide_for_authors12.10.pdf

    Thus they should be well aware of the issue of plagiarism and its detection. Now, as was mentioned before concerning the Wegman Report for Congress, attribution guidelines for such reports are looser than the standards for academic journals. If Wegman and Said had known there was plagiarized material in it, that one have been thing. But if they knew it was there, and remained there when it was recycled into the Said et al paper, to then submit it to a journal knowing that plagiarism should be screened for as part of the acceptance process, would have been rather brazen as they should expect it would have been detected. Therefore, the logical conclusion is they were not aware of the questionable material when they submitted the paper.

    As to the purported lack of knowledge or experience with social network analysis, social relationships and networks are actually something known by Said, as can be seen by her work. From the 2007 reference:

    Professor Yasmin H. Said is a National Research Fellow from the National Institutes of Health. She earned her A.B. in pure mathematics, her M.S. in computer science and information systems, and Ph.D. in computational statistics. She does alcohol modeling, agent-based simulation modeling, social network analysis, text, image, and data mining, and major public policy work trying to minimize negative acute outcomes, including HIV/AIDS, related to alcohol consumption. Dr. Said is also the Statistical Methodology Director of the Innovative Medical Institute, LLC, and Co-Director of the Center for Computational Data Sciences in the College of Science at George Mason University. She is the editor of Computing Science and Statistics, is an associate editor of the journal, Computational Statistics and Data Analysis, serves on the board of the Washington Statistical Society, and serves on the American Statistical Association Presidential Task Force on Science Policy. Dr. Said is an elected member of the International Statistical Institute and an elected member of the Research Society on Alcoholism. (…)

    Dr. Said is well-versed in studying social relationships and interactions, with her work focused on alcohol use and even HIV/AIDS. Accusations that the authors (collectively) didn’t know about social network analysis are therefore unfounded.

    Meanwhile, amongst the indignant cries for righteous retribution due to Said’s and Wegman’s alleged direct plagiarism, I await the calls from those same voices for equal treatment with investigation and subsequent appropriate punishment for Raymond Bradley’s blatant copying of Fritts without attribution. You all are fine with “equal treatment for all,” right?

  46. “You all are fine with “equal treatment for all,” right?”

    Absolutely. That is, in fact, my central theme here. And yet pretty much every comment from the regulars on this thread goes to extraordinary, and speculative, lengths to dismiss a clear case of incompetence at the least. You do also.

    If Bradley was remiss or sloppy in his attribution to Fritts, then that is reprehensible.

    Why am I not hearing clear-cut statements like that about Wegman and Said? Because commenters here are too keen to overlook atrocious practise on a favoured paper, I suppose.

    So let me try and figure out what has happened here, with your help.

    “Knowledge of climatology or dendro was not needed as Mann’s statistical work was examined…”

    and

    “the logical conclusion is they were not aware of the questionable material when they submitted the paper.”

    If knowledge of dendro was not needed, why does it appear in their paper (in plagiarised form?) From comments here, it seems that they farmed out this section to a to pad out the report and study, and never bothered to have an expert check it. Why on earth didn’t they enlist an expert in the first place? And why, if they though the student’s work was original, did they not give the student co-authorship?

    As to Yasmin Said’s biography, she has published no papers on social network analysis and it seems that the inclusion of this field on her resume is based on her joint effort with Wegman. The section on social networks was reviewed by an expert and found to be poor quality. Further, if Said is an expert in network analysis, how is it the 5 pages devoted to it was submitted with no citations to the work copied? And if Said didn’t write the section, how is it her expertise failed to spot the plagiarised material? And if she thought that the student’s work was original, why was the student not given co-authorship on the paper?

    No matter how you work it, the least offence here is incompetence.

  47. kadaka,

    “I await the calls from those same voices for equal treatment with investigation and subsequent appropriate punishment for Raymond Bradley’s blatant copying of Fritts without attribution.”

    I did something really crazy here. I went to the Bradley/Fitts post and read it (at the original source – climateaudit, not WUWT). Then I checked source material. Then I re-read the post and comments.

    Bradley attributed to Fritts throughout the paper, and had permission to re-use the material, graphs etc. He also indicated where he directly quoted, and where he paraphrased Fritts in his study. Stephen McIntyre acknowledged the permission downthread in the comments – but for some reason didn’t amend the post to reflect that.

    I’t’s quite possible that some mainstream climate scientist somewhere has plagiarised, but this doesn’t seem to be the example you’re hoping for. Should one come to light, I will join you in condemning it.

    But that would not distract from, nor mitigate the incompetence and negligence of Said et al and the Wegman report. (I don’t think this was your intent)

    I found North’s response fair-minded, and that there is no clear evidence of deliberate deceptiveness on the part of Wegman and Said. I have no desire for “righteous retribution.” The shoddy work here, though, coupled with other reviews of Mann et al 1998/99 (like the NSA), casts a deeper shadow over the controversial Wegman report and the follow-up paper. I think objective thinkers will bear this in mind considering the issue this leads back to – the debate about global temperature in the MWP as compared to the last 30 years. But that’s for another thread…

  48. From barry on May 23, 2011 at 2:12 am:

    I did something really crazy here. I went to the Bradley/Fitts post and read it (at the original source – climateaudit, not WUWT). Then I checked source material. Then I re-read the post and comments.

    Bradley attributed to Fritts throughout the paper, and had permission to re-use the material, graphs etc. He also indicated where he directly quoted, and where he paraphrased Fritts in his study. (…)

    Thus I know you are lying. Bradley (1985 or 1999) is a textbook, not a paper nor a study. If you had really read the Climate Audit Bradley Copies Fritts post AND the comments, AND checked the source material, AND re-read the post and comments, you’d have known that. This is seen in the very first line of the Climate Audit post (bold added):

    In an early Deep Climate post about Wegman, DC characterized Bradley 1999, a revision of the 1985 edition of Bradley’s textbook

    Multiple comments refer to “Bradley” being a book.
    One
    Two – John M links to the 1999 book on Amazon.
    Three
    Four
    etc…

    It is not credible that you could have read that post and the comments then mistakenly referred to “Bradley” as BOTH a report AND a study. One such mis-speaking is possible, twice strains credulity. Your claims that you re-read post and comments AND read the source material seals it. How can you read a textbook then refer to it as both a report and a study?

    Bradley having permission to reuse the material is not the issue, as that concerns copyright. Bradley did not attribute to Fritts throughout the textbook. As Steve McIntyre showed, Bradley did not provide sufficient attribution to Fritts, as evidenced in the captions of the figures. As mentioned in the original post and expanded on in the next Climate Audit post, Bradley Copies Fritts #2, although in the running text Bradley lifted vast amounts from Fritts, he gave Fritts little attribution. Indeed, the revision (Bradley 1999) had even less references to Fritts than the original (Bradley 1985). From the second post:

    In fact, Fritts 1976 is mentioned only four times in the 24 pages of running text of Bradley 1985 pages 330 to 353 and only once in the running text Bradley 1999 – although, as noted in my previous post, Fritts 1976 is mentioned in the captions to seven figures in Bradley 1985 (Bradley 1999 – four).

    Back to your comment:

    (…) Stephen McIntyre acknowledged the permission downthread in the comments – but for some reason didn’t amend the post to reflect that.

    Oh come on, you didn’t even spell Steve’s name correctly! And as Steve himself said here, “My interest here wasn’t in copyright but in copying practices…” Thus permission is not relevant, there is no (sensible) call to amend the post.

    I’t’s quite possible that some mainstream climate scientist somewhere has plagiarised, but this doesn’t seem to be the example you’re hoping for. Should one come to light, I will join you in condemning it.

    Commenter ZT put together a small collection, starting when the Wegman/Bradley thing first blew up. It was mentioned in the first Climate Audit post here, going by your claim you have already read about it twice. It is here. Start condemning.

    I found North’s response fair-minded, and that there is no clear evidence of deliberate deceptiveness on the part of Wegman and Said. (…)

    Yet you said in a previous comment:

    The journal had no choice other than to retract the paper. Apart from the obvious academic dishonesty…

    You found there is no clear evidence of deliberate deceptiveness, yet state the obviousness of the deliberate act of dishonesty, i.e. deceit? Are you withdrawing your earlier statement?

  49. Bradley did not attribute to Fritts throughout the textbook

    Yes, he did. And I was wrong to call it a ‘paper’ and a ‘study’. It is indeed a textbook, but I’d been talking about science papers all day and repeated the terminology.

    You can get the relevant chapter online, as I did. This is the link I used. You or anyone else can check for how many times Fritts is mentioned (all the way through). You can even see it for yourself on the graphics McIntyre posted.

    In the 1999 revision I count:

    5 references to Fritts 1976 in the body of the text and under captions
    8 referenced to Fritts 1971 in the body of the text and under captions

    (same as McIntyre found)

    Therefore, “Raymond Bradley’s blatant copying of Fritts without attribution” is a falsehood.

    Compare Bradley’s chapter stuffed with references with the pages of unreferenced lifts from Bradley and wikipedia, for god’s sake, in the journal paper submitted by Wegamn and Said, and tell me how the comparison is even close.

    Oh come on, you didn’t even spell Steve’s name correctly

    Yes, I did. His first name is spelled ‘Stephen’ (no ‘v’), and he goes by the shortened version on his blog. Not that it makes a jot of difference. Nor does it matter that you don’t know that. It’s completely incidental.

    You found there is no clear evidence of deliberate deceptiveness, yet state the obviousness of the deliberate act of dishonesty, i.e. deceit? Are you withdrawing your earlier statement?

    Cool your jets. I referred specifically to Wegman and Said, who advised that they did not write up the offending sections. I take them at their word. In the earlier comment I was writing from the POV of what is acceptable in peer-reviewed literature (regarding Said, Wegman et al (2008). Plagiarism is academic dishonesty, and this study contains blatant examples of it – which is why it has been withdrawn.

    I juat now checked the first article at ZT’s blog you linked to. It appears to be examples of climate scientists quoting themselves. ‘Recycling’, ZT calls it. This has nothing to do with plagiarism. It’s pure distraction. Can I ask you to put that on hold for a second…?

    Kadaka, straight up, what do you think of the plagiarism in Said and Wegman (2008), the topic of this thread? Do you apply your standards equally?

  50. @barry says: May 25, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Cherry picking the examples, I see.(Those climatological habits die hard). Here is an example of climatologists, including Jones, plagiarizing one another:

    http://climatologyplagiarism.blogspot.com/2010/10/jones-and-coauthors-plagiarize-mann-and.html

    Finding such examples is not hard – I have spent but a few moments doing it. It is, however, hard not to reach the conclusion that climatologists are paid by the word, and that they tend to hold skeptics to a considerably higher standard than their climatological colleagues.

    Feel free to condemn away.

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