Nature Scolds GMU over Wegman Inquiry

Thu, 2011-05-26 09:58Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

Nature Scolds GMU over Wegman Inquiry

George Mason U dragging its feet on plagiarism complaint

An editorial in the current issue of Nature questions why George Mason University has taken more than 14 months - so far - in its review of the plagiarism complaint against Edward Wegman, even though GMU’s own policy says that such a complaint should be dealt with in 12 weeks.

“Long misconduct investigations do not serve anyone, except perhaps university public-relations departments that might hope everyone will have forgotten about a case by the time it wraps up,” the Nature editorial states.

The editors go on to say that this is as particularly pressing issue because Wegman’s (purportedly) shoddy work has been used to prop up government policy, as well as to dilute the quality of climate science.

Finally Nature says this:

“Perhaps it should fall to accreditation agencies to push for speedy investigations. Tom Benberg, vice-president of the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools — the agency that accredits George Mason University — says that his agency might investigate if the university repeatedly ignored its own policies on the timing of misconduct inquiries. To get the ball rolling, he says, someone would have to file a well-documented complaint.”

Gee, that sounds exactly like an invitation …

Previous Comments

Maybe this investigation is taking a long time because they are trying to get to the bottom of this whole fiasco.

Maybe there are legal threats against GMU.

Maybe evidence of more than research misconduct has turned up. If there is evidence of a crime–such as misusing government money or lying to Congress–GMU would have to be really careful. They might have to turn over information to law enforcement for an investigation.

How strange that Attorney General Cuccinelli isn’t insisting that all Wegman’s emails be made public to see if Wegman misused government money. (Sarcasm)

I have mentioned to people at my school that questions are being asked about GMU’s accreditation. We might want the parents of our students to be aware that this might become an issue if their child goes to GMU.

Also, you really have to wonder about their science programs if they have all those denialist think tanks on their campus. You wouldn’t want your child to get lured into some illegal political operation.

Acording to a post and comments at Deep Climate, GMU is still deciding whether to investigate. It is very confusing.

Deep climate comment says:

Vergano [USA Today]…added a May 26 update to his story:
‘Update: GMU spokesman Dan Walsch clarified in the May 26, 2011, Nature journal that the year-old investigation is still in its preliminary “inquiry” stage, rather than a full investigation.

http://deepclimate.org/2011/05/16/retraction-of-said-wegman-et-al-2008-part-2/

Here is the USA Today article with the update:
http://content.usatoday.com/communities/sciencefair/post/2010/10/wegman-plagiarism-investigation-/1

The Nature article says:

Wegman has blamed a graduate student for the plagiarism. Daniel Walsch, spokesperson for George Mason University, says that an internal review of the matter began in the autumn. He cannot estimate when that review will be complete, and, until it is, he says, the university regards it as a “personnel matter” and will not comment further. He adds that the review is still in the “inquiry” phase to ascertain whether a full investigation should be held. “Whether it is fast or slow is not as important as it being thorough and fair,” says Walsch. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v473/n7348/full/473419b.html

Mr. Littlemore,

According to Nature:

“Tom Benberg, vice-president of the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools — the agency that accredits George Mason University — says that his agency might investigate if the university repeatedly ignored its own policies on the timing of misconduct inquiries. To get the ball rolling, he says, someone would have to file a well-documented complaint.”

Would this well-documented complaint have to come from a GMU professor involved in the misconduct inquiry or could anyone file a complaint? It’s not like some big-shot Attorney General is going to materialize, cut into the line, and piously declare that government money was used to perpetrate a fraud.

The report is now in.

GMU found Wegman plagiarized the retracted paper.

GMU found Wegman did not plagiarize the Report to Congress.

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/sciencefair/post/2012/02/george-mason-university-reprimands-edward-wegmand-/1?csp=34news