Does anyone actually buy this bullshit anymore? A high-profile Canadian scientist, recipient of much government research largesse, claims

1. he didn’t know an article on which he was the senior writer was plagiarized; and that

2. an underling of his, a woman, did all the bad stuff; but that

3. as a fine upstanding human being he’ll take the fall for it because he

4. should have known what was in the article.

How noble! Far from imposing any punishment on this great and good man, cruelly betrayed by his sneaky subordinate, who earned second-author status on the article because she was responsible for all the writing in it and he did jackshit, let us increase government support for his research!

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5 Responses to ““Dongqing Li declared himself that he regards this case clearly being plagiarism,” Zengerle said. “He was not aware of it at the time the paper was submitted or revised, but as senior author he took responsibility and declared that he should have checked more carefully.””

  1. Mr Punch Says:

    Well, yeah, but in Engineering, unlike English, there’s more to it than writing the article. And doctoral students may not get published without the professor’s name on the paper.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Mr Punch: Absolutely there’s much more to it. But writing it up is crucial; and if you’re illiterate (or too busy or whatever your excuse is) you don’t get to claim credit for writing your results if you haven’t written them.

    Maybe in fact you don’t understand your own results and can’t explain them to anyone and that’s why you haven’t written them down. In that case, you don’t get to claim credit for them. You just blundered into some results through dumb luck and you need someone else to explain them to you.

  3. University Diaries » So Martin Bazant, engineering professor at MIT, was perusing someone else’s article… Says:

    […] person is Dongqing Li, at the University of Waterloo. Li has now been found guilty of plagiarism and will suffer the […]

  4. JW Says:

    Actually, Dongqing Li is the second author. The student is the first author. He is the advisor and sponsors her research, so his name is there.
    The plagiarised part is word for word lifting. Such a low level plagiarism is quite likely done by the student. Also both papers are review papers. Possibly the student felt it was okay.
    Then such a paper can pass journal review, is there something to it? That is Li’s journal. He picked the reviewers. That was the shady part.

  5. Margaret Soltan Says:

    JW: Thanks for the comment. There are, I’d say, many shady parts, not just the one you mention. “Possibly the student felt it was okay.” Well, yes, she did. No question. But her mentor, who put his name on the paper, is equally responsible.

    It’s sleazy, lazy, and high-handedly irresponsible on his part — but it in no way distinguishes him from hundreds of other senior scientists who have the same relationship to their juniors and to the research ethos. His non-punishment communicates to all the other scientists like him that they should feel free to continue.

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