Quick cases

When we work with groups whose members are responsible for setting up anti-fraud and anti-plagiarism mechanisms, we use “quick cases” that lend themselves to debate.

Our database includes about a hundred “quick cases” from emails we receive. We select those that correspond to the theme of the working group.

They were used for the first time with P.-J. Benghozi as part of a mandate to formalize the SFM-FNEGE proposals to reduce and process plagiarism cases in 2010.

Their objective is to encourage discussion among participants and the emergence of proposals for appropriate mechanisms to deal with these characteristic situations.

Here are some examples of these “quick cases”.

Quick case N° 1

– From a French author:

What a surprise to me that I had been plagiarized by two researchers (one from xxx, the other from xxx University) in an article they published in xxx that included in extenso one of the main developments of my last book published in the United States. I have the following questions: 1) what should I ask the publisher at the end: a right of reply? Any other articles? It seems unthinkable to me to leave things as they are.  2) what approach should be taken with regard to these two researchers: send them a copy of the letter? ask for compensation? Send the letter to their institutions? In short, how can we ensure that this story does not remain hidden discreetly? Especially since she is a French researcher (in this case me) who has no role in American institutions and who could easily be silenced, unlike these two authors who are well established in the American institutional landscape. »

Response from the publisher informed by him/her:

We of course took seriously your comments, and we asked the authors to give us their response. They have informed us that they are not familiar with your work, and have not read the articles you cite. Therefore, they could not have appropriated your ideas.  As I’m sure you are aware, researchers working in the same field can independently develop ideas that reflect common perspectives, outcomes or conclusions. No doubt that is what has happened here. »

Quick case N° 2

– From a Master’s student:

An important subject in the academic world could be plagiarism and theft of student data by unscrupulous promoters or professors wishing to publish as first authors a work they have not done.

Here is what my thesis boss just wrote to me: “Madam, the tradition in our laboratory is to supervise the Master’s thesis research that allows you to obtain a renowned degree. But the data collected belong to the laboratory alone myself or the assistant who coached you can publish on this basis. Consequently, the publication of a research article based on this data is totally unfair and therefore we will oppose your “projects” to carry out a doctorate and your request for an assistant position“.

My questions are :

– As a student: Who owns the data I collected myself in the field?

– Whose brief did I write?

– When I decide to publish this data and my text is taken from me, changed somewhat and published before me, what remedies are available to me?

All the university regulations I have read only consider plagiarism from “bottom” to “top”. Where are the rules that protect students’ reports, works, dissertations, theses… »