Reviewing Fraudulent Research


Academic misconduct or, in layman’s terms, fraudulent research, is very serious offense, but it’s one that’s often hard to detect (particularly because most academic research, some 1.5 million new articles a year, is rarely read at all) but now there might be a way to speed up the process of cracking down on the problem.

Ladies and gentlemen, check out, a Romanian-based website that encourages scholars to send in research that they think is fishy. Then other scholars are supposed to check it out and do their own analysis.

According to a piece at Times Higher Education:

The idea behind the site, which has been likened to a Wikipedia of plagiarism detection and went global last month, is that anyone can flag up work they suspect has been subject to academic misconduct and it will then be investigated by independent reviewers.

These reviewers – on whose time and generosity the site heavily relies – are chosen for academic expertise in their field. They look for flaws in the conduct (although not the content) of work, and their conclusions are published openly on the site.

So far the site has addressed 10 suspicious studies. Experts determined that, for instance,

Dr Olesia Mihai (formerly Lupu) from “Al. I Cuza” University, Iasi, Romania, plagiarized extensively within her PhD thesis (April 2005, then a PhD student) the PhD thesis from 1981 of Prof Jay W. Ruud, at the time at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, USA. Out of 180 pages of actual content, close to 100% of them were identified as Prof Ruud’s original work.

The site’s contributors also determined that other troublesome research included,

[A] paper authored by Aurelia Cristina Nechifor andEcaterina Andronescu, the current minister of research of Romania, published in 2003 at the 13th Romanian International Conference on Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. As can be seen… 7 international experts in the field confirm that the work constitutes plagiarism and falsification of data.

At this point the reviewing seems basically limited to research by Romanian scholars, though contributors include academics from around the world. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer