In May 2013, DeSmog published the FOIA Facts (1, 2, 3, 4) series on the misdeeds of George Mason University (GMU) Professor Edward Wegman and his long-time helper Yasmin Said, authors of the long-discredited 2006 Wegman Report (WR). Behind those blog posts was a much more detailed report, published only today. In May 2013, I sent that to a few Federal agencies and to Aurali Dade, GMU's AVP for Research Integrity and Assurance. I had thought to be done with the Wegman/Said/GMU saga, but was proved wrong.
As a byproduct of FOIA Facts 1 and FOIA Facts 2, Ed Wegman or Yasmin Said are now alleged to have included plagiarism or falsification in 9 papers or talks associated with funding from the Army Research Organization (ARO grants 0447 or 0059) or the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA grant 5876), 2005-2009.
[05/31/15 The full report is now online, as a result of this $2M lawsuit.]
Of 6 plagiarized works already reported to George Mason University (GMU), Elsevier retracted one. By FOIA, the other 5 had either been claimed for credit on grants or cited to support Said's grant proposal. Study of grant claims unearthed 2 more works with problems.
Finally, Wegman wrote a 2009 grant proposal for half a million dollars, but evidence shows about half the text was plagiarized. Although unconnected with Federal funding, plagiarism or falsification are alleged against 4 more works. Of 13 total works with problems, 7 involved both Wegman and Said, and 3 by each alone, so they cannot blame all this on grad students.
As begun in FOIA Facts 1, Ed Wegman and Rep. Joe Barton repeatedly called the Wegman Report “pro bono”* but Wegman and Said later claimed it as work done for existing Federal grants paid quarterly. In response to Dan Vergano FOIA request Wegman and Said each said the work was pro bono, years after claiming for credit it and much other irrelevant work. Together, they “charged” 48 inappropriate works to grants they effectively treated as slush funds.
Wegman was funded by Army Research Office (ARO) grant 0447, $217K for “Analytical and Graphical Methods for Streaming Data with Applications to Netcentric Warfare.” He claimed credit for 75 papers and talks, listed in the thumbnail at left or full-sized in Sheet §0.1.
Dark blue shows fit (possibly relevant) papers, but almost all acknowledged earlier grants and were published or mostly done before 0447. Wegman improperly claimed them again in late 2008, perhaps because he had done so little new relevant work in peer-reviewed research journals. Ignoring them leaves just cyan (light blue) talks, outnumbered by grant-unfit works: green for alcoholism, red for attempts to discredit climate science and orange for miscellaneous others unrelated to his or Said's grants.
The chronology matches well - fit papers essentially vanished after 2005, as Wegman plunged into climate and worked on alcoholism with Said, who claimed the Wegman Report for her grant. A 91-page report on unfamiliar topics and Congressional hearings had to consume much more effort than anything else. Even by simple counts, more than half of each person's works were inappropriate, but the grant time spent inappropriately was almost certainly larger.
Lamar Smith (R-TX) might want to investigate obvious funds misuse before trying to meddle with the National Science Foundation.
“Congress has a responsibility to review questionable research paid for by hard-working American taxpayers. … Public funds should be used to benefit the American people.”
05/20/15: The full report is now posted, as side-effect of $2M lawsuiit by Ed Wegman, Yasmin Said, Milton Johns.
New Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) replies have exposed more misdeeds by Professor Edward Wegman and Yasmin Said at George Mason University (GMU), closely involved with the Kochs, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and many others known for attacks on climate science. This post reviews background and attaches FOIA files that unearthed evidence for:
-pervasive mis-use of Federal funds for inappropriate work,
-plagiarism* or falsification** in documents used to seek grants or credit,
-GMU violations of Federal rules for reporting misconduct, atop an already-absurd procedure.
Readers unfamiliar with the history might first read the background below the fold and then return here for a summary of the posts to follow in this series:
FOIA Facts 2 - Wegman and Said used existing grants from the Army Research Office and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism for efforts on the 2006 Wegman Report, showing “pro bono” claims made to Congress as false. That was not the only funds mis-use. Together, they claimed 48 inappropriate papers or talks, easily consuming more than half their effort. Grants of $492K produced attacks on climate science and much foreign travel, but almost nothing in peer-reviewed research journals.
FOIA Facts 3 - More plagiarism and falsification are documented in 13 total works by Wegman and/or Said, including a few new ones and at least 7 claimed for grant credit. Wegman also wrote a half-million-dollar grant proposal, but evidence shows that roughly half the text was copy-paste-edit plagiarism. Luckily for Wegman, it was rejected.
FOIA Facts 4 exposes worse misbehavior at GMU, which badly mishandled simple plagiarism complaints, including one on a Federally-funded paper. That was retracted in May 2011 and finally ruled as misconduct in February 2012. Federal rules required multiple notifications to several agencies, but FOIA requests found no trace of them. GMU seemed to ignore Federal rules, but perhaps other funding and influence are more important.
In any case, Wegman was appointed in Fall 2012 to a 3-year term on the GMU College of Science Promotion and Tenure Committee.
The “Wegman Report”, led by Edward Wegman of George Mason University (GMU) got criticized in 2010's Experts claim 2006 climate report plagiarized. Experts called it “obvious” even “shocking” plagiarism. GMU's incompetent handling, mistreatment of complainants and flawed rulings were mostly documented in March, but recent FOIAs expose more untruths.
Is the harsh title fair? Read on, then study the 69-page attachment.
GMU Provost Peter Stearns' February letter to GMU faculty made claims of non-plagiarism that contradicted not only experts, but themselves. The process consumed almost two years to assess four (4) pages of text.
Stearns' letter was even more untruthful than previously known. It fabricated an imaginary second investigation committee, seemingly to somehow excuse crucial contradictions. This seemed an attempt to defend the Wegman Report at all costs, even with potential problems from Federal agencies who expect schools to handle misconduct properly. They fund much of GMU's actual research, done by faculty that to the best of my knowledge are normal, credible researchers.
However, a few groups in GMU are closely, even uniquely enmeshed with people behind the machinery of anti-science, such as Charles Koch, Ken Cuccinelli, David Schnare, Fred Singer, and Pat Michaels, plus the Heartland Institute and key Washington think tanks. GMU even has a long history of tobacco connections, oddly relevant.
Following are a few brief summaries to motivate the title's phrases:
George Mason University (GMU) has labored for 2 years on simple plagiarism complaints. It has just written self-contradictory findings that avoided seeing plagiarism in the 2006 Wegman Report (WR) while admitting the same text elsewhere was plagiarism.
In March 2010, climate scientist Ray Bradley complained to GMU of 2.5 pages of plagiarism of his paleoclimatology book by the Wegman Report. In May he added 5.5 pages of WR Social Networks Analysis plagiarism and a 1.5 -page subset in a Computational Statistics and Data Analysis (CSDA) paper.
All were based on the work of Canadian blogger Deep Climate, who kept finding more problems. The known total of 80+ pages has 4 PhD dissertations, some lectures, a patent and 7 papers.
Edward Wegman and Yasmin Said published two largely-plagiarized papers in a “peer-reviewed” Wiley journal they edit with David Scott. Wikipedia pages they copied were better.
In May 2011, CSDA publisher Elsevier finally forced retraction of the CSDA paper.
Nearly two years ago, Canadian blogger Deep Climate found the first few pages of plagiarism in the Wegman Report. Since then, he and others have found many more, whose chronology is graphed in Plagiarism chains involving Edward Wegman and/or students, 10/07/11, going back to 1996.
After 17+ months beyond the first of many formal complaints, and despite exhortation from a Nature editorial in May 2011 to move faster, George Mason University (GMU) is still reviewing the situation.
Dan Vergano of USA Today reported on 05/16/11 that
“Neither Dr. Wegman nor Dr. Said has ever engaged in plagiarism,” says their attorney, Milton Johns, by e-mail. In a March 16 e-mail to the journal, Wegman blamed a student who “had basically copied and pasted” from others' work into the 2006 congressional report, and said the text was lifted without acknowledgment and used in the journal study. “We would never knowingly publish plagiarized material” wrote Wegman, a former CSDA journal editor.”
But who is Milton Johns, to be so confident of his firm statement?
New Mashey Report Drills into Academic Misconduct
The 2006 Wegman Report to Congress, already under investigation for extensive plagiarism, also appears to be guilty of falsifications, misrepresentation and frabrications that could give rise to a charge of academic misconduct, according to a new report by computer scientist and entrepreneur John Mashey (attached, below).
Mashey and the Canadian blogger DeepClimate have analysed Wegman extensively in the past, primarily for the plagiarism of which Wegman is so clearly guilty. But Mashey digs deeper in the current report, questioning whether the numerous errors, oversights and misrepresentations in the report can be explained by inadvertence or incompetence, or whether Wegman and his prinicpal co-author Yasmin Said were intentionally distorting the information they were plagiarizing and, in the process, pointedly misrepresenting science.
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.