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Plagiarism retracts review

A two-year-old review paper on advances in using genetically engineered biofuel crops to boost ethanol production was retracted from __Nature Reviews Genetics__ (__NRG__) because the author stole the bulk of a paragraph from another paper she had peer reviewed. BiofuelsImage by Steve Jurvetson via WikimediaThe review author, Michigan State University plant scientist Mariam Sticklen, wrote in the current issue of __NRG__ that she was linkurl:retracting;http://www.nature.com/nrg/journal/v11/n4/fu

By | April 1, 2010

A two-year-old review paper on advances in using genetically engineered biofuel crops to boost ethanol production was retracted from __Nature Reviews Genetics__ (__NRG__) because the author stole the bulk of a paragraph from another paper she had peer reviewed.
Biofuels
Image by Steve Jurvetson via Wikimedia
The review author, Michigan State University plant scientist Mariam Sticklen, wrote in the current issue of __NRG__ that she was linkurl:retracting;http://www.nature.com/nrg/journal/v11/n4/full/nrg2777.html her article "due to a paragraph being paraphrased without attribution." According to an investigative committee at Michigan State University, Sticklen modified a paragraph from a manuscript she was peer reviewing for the journal __Plant Science__ in 2008 and inserted into her own during the final stages of revision at __NRG__. Sticklen told __The Scientist__ that her mistake was inadvertent, precipitated by a medical condition that affected her memory and cognition. "All I know is that I did not do wrong," she said. Ziv Shani, senior author of the __Plant Science__ paper from which Sticklen apparently borrowed -- also about ways to boost ethanol production -- wrote in an email to __The Scientist__ that he and his co-authors became aware of a problem when they read Sticklen's published review in a June 2008 issue of __NRG__, before their paper had been published. "We referred this matter to the editor of __Plant Science__, to which we had submitted an invited review," Shani wrote. That editor was linkurl:Jonathan Gressel,;http://www.weizmann.ac.il/plants/gressel/index.html professor emeritus at Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science who commissions and edits review articles at the journal. Gressel told __The Scientist__ that Shani contacted him and asked if Sticklen was a referee on his own paper, which was eventually linkurl:published;http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6TBH-4XRCRK2-1&_user=10&_coverDate=02%2F28%2F2010&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=bacf4eb28ded69dc48361e14a9e2dc6c in the February 2010 issue of __Plant Science__. Gressel informed Shani that he couldn't divulge that information but promised to look in to the matter. "If I see something, I'll notify the appropriate authorities," he assured Shani. Gressel did see something. "It was almost identical," he said. "It was clear to me that it was plagiary." What really tipped him off, Gressel said, was that two of the references Sticklen used (see references 62 and 63 in box below and in the __NRG__ linkurl:manuscript);http://www.nature.com/nrg/journal/v9/n6/full/nrg2336.html had nothing to do with the subject matter in the sentence where they appeared. This prompted Gressel to email editors at __NRG__ and administrators at Michigan State University, alerting them to Sticklen's apparent misconduct, a message on which he copied Shani. This essentially ended Sticklen's status as an anonymous reviewer of Shani's manuscript, but Gressel said that divulging her identity was warranted. "When you have done something that's way beyond the pale, you forfeit your anonymity as a reviewer," Gressel said. "It's not a given." Michigan State's research integrity officer, exercise scientist linkurl:James Pivarnik,;http://www.epi.msu.edu/faculty/pivarnik.htm then took over. An investigative "committee found research misconduct," Pivarnik told __The Scientist__, ruling that Sticklen had plagiarized the paragraph of the paper she peer reviewed. He added that Sticklen appealed the finding all the way up to the level of Michigan State's president. In the meantime, Shani's paper was published in __Plant Science__, and when Michigan State University investigators informed Gressel of their finding, the editor added a note to the end of the article, saying that an investigative committee determined that the paper contained a paragraph that had been plagiarized. Sticklen maintained that her mistake was not intentional. She said she has been diagnosed with essential thrombocythemia, in which a high platelet count has clogged blood vessels in her brain and caused her major memory and cognitive problems for more than two years. This, combined with her habit of using index cards to identify interesting topics to research later or ideas to include in pieces she's writing, led to the problem, she said. While she cannot remember exactly what happened with the __Plant Science__ and __NRG__ manuscripts, Sticklen said that she likely mixed up a card containing information she wanted to include in her manuscript with a card she wrote about Shani's paper. Sticklen also said that the school should have considered her medical condition more carefully in determining her guilt in the matter. Though she was undergoing further testing during the Michigan State's investigation, Sticklen, who is currently on medical leave from the university, said that she furnished school officials with a preliminary medical report from her doctors. "I told the committee, but they rushed to a conclusion," she said. "They ignored the report." linkurl:Ian Gray,;http://www.msu.edu/thisismsu/executive/vp.html Michigan State University's vice president for research and graduate studies, told __The Scientist__ that the committee was aware of Sticklen's medical condition, but declined to make any further comment, stating that "the case is closed from Michigan State University's perspective. As far as the university is concerned, the decision is made and that's what we live with." After receiving official word of the university's findings, editors at __Nature Reviews Genetics__ decided to retract Sticklen's article, the first ever retracted from any of the 15 __Nature Reviews__ journals published by Nature Publishing Group. "It was clear that we needed to make amends for this," __NRG__'s chief editor Louisa Flintoft told __The Scientist__. But the journal used slightly different wording to describe the incident, calling Sticklen's mistake "a paragraph being paraphrased without attribution" rather than describing it as "plagiarism," as did the Michigan State University investigative committee. "Paraphrasing a paragraph without attribution is a form of plagiarism," Flintoft said. "It's a more specific description of what happened in that paper." She added that __NRG__ staff initially wrote the retraction, and agreed on the final wording in concert with Sticklen. "Frankly, I think __Nature Reviews Genetics__ was nice to her in allowing her to say 'paraphrase'," Gressel said. Shani, group R&D director at Israeli agribiotech FuturaGene, said in an email to __The Scientist__ that he was satisfied with the retraction. "The matter was dealt with professionally between the editors of the two journals and between Dr. Sticklen and her institute, Michigan State University," he wrote. "My co-authors and I believe that we have now received the proper credit for our original work and we do not wish to elaborate further on this issue." Gray said that Sticklen has been disciplined for her actions. "The disciplinary actions focus on stricter departmental oversight of the faculty member's research, including publications and grant proposals, additional mentoring including attendance at the MSU Workshop on Responsible Conduct of Research, ineligibility for any internal research funding, including institutional match, for a period of two years, and no salary increase for the next two years," Gray wrote in an email to __The Scientist__. "It's very unfortunate that such a thing happened," he said. Here are the two paragraphs side-by-side so you can decide for yourself: __Editor's Note (04/01/10, 2:20 PM EDT): These are indeed the two paragraphs that initially raised suspicion in the mind of __Plant Science__ editor Jonathan Gressel. He assured __The Scientist__ of that fact. Michigan State University declined to provide the official report generated from their investigation of the matter. As these were review articles, the "plagiarism" involved had less to do with copying specific sections of text and more about borrowing the ideas contained in the original paragraph, one of only a handful in the __Plant Science__ manuscript that contained mention of new ideas or hypotheses.__
Editor's Note (04/01/10, 4:20 PM EDT): when originally posted, the article misspelled Sticklen's first name. The Scientist regrets the error.
**__Related stories:__***linkurl:You've been plagiarized;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55491/
[5th March 2009]*linkurl:UK psychiatrist suspended for plagiarism;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54763/
[23rd June 2008]*linkurl:Plagiarists beware;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54546/
[11th April 2008]
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Comments

Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 10

April 1, 2010

This is considered plagiarism and serious enough for grounds for retraction ? \n\nThe world has gone mad.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

April 1, 2010

I am not an expert in this particular field, but I really cannot see where the plagiarism is. Perhaps you could help out your readers by highlighting it? are there nearly-identical phrases? or is there an idea expressed that was very new that she got by being the reviewer of the unpublished manuscript?
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 18

April 1, 2010

I consider myself to have a fairly high standard if ethics, and it may be that the "plagiarist" was influenced by what was read, but the fact is that we all draw ideas from both the literature. Indeed, the highest compliment for a paper (origianl or review) is that it influences thought. This is one paragraph, I did not see the near-verbatim copying of words, and it seemed like anyone could have drawn these ideas from the literature. The reference snafu might suggest being influenced by the submitted work, but goodness gracious, where has the other group beren infringed? A little common sense should apply.
Avatar of: Schellekens Huub

Schellekens Huub

Posts: 1

April 1, 2010

When comparing the two paragraphs, I can not find any plagiarism. I doubt whether you even can call it paraphrasing. If a text of mine would have been used this way, I would not have taken any action.\nI consider the actions against my colleague by the officials of Michigan State University completely over the top.
Avatar of: Dan Whipple

Dan Whipple

Posts: 1

April 1, 2010

April 1.
Avatar of: Joseph McPhee

Joseph McPhee

Posts: 4

April 1, 2010

If that is what constitutes an offense that warrants administrative disciplinary action, there are a whole lot of plagiarists out there. Maybe the out-of-place citations are a clue, but it looks like a pretty standard restatement of what's in the literature. Perhaps because the original review was still in peer-review there is a case to be made, but I don't see it.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

April 1, 2010

I'm far from an expert in this field, but I cannot understand how this was judged as plagiarism. I'm concerned that Professor Sticklen was treated shabbily and unfairly.
Avatar of: John Rodgers

John Rodgers

Posts: 6

April 1, 2010

One can see that this is indeed an unattributed paraphrase, which is indeed a form of dysplexis (unskillful use of source-texts). If we are to retract papers due to this form of dysplexis, we may have to retract about 90% of the papers published, I suspect. \n The reach transgression here has nothing to do with dysplexis- it is (apparently) a violation of confidentiality- in my mind a far more serious breach of professional ethics that has nothing to do with note-cards. A manuscript or grant proposal underreview is NOT under any circumstances to be used as a source-text even with attribution! In this case, a "correct" attribution would have required a formal advertisement of the violation of confidence. \n What is serious?\n 1. Faking data (fraud)\n 2. Mis-representing data \n 3. Violation of confidence.\n\nWhat is not serious?\n 1. Minor dysplexis of this sort, including minor patchwriting. \n\n -John Rodgers jrodgers@bcm.tmc.edu\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

April 1, 2010

I don't see the plagiarism at all. I can't believe Sticklen got disciplinary action for this. This makes me feel like I can never write a review article ever again...\n\nI hope Dan is correct & is an April 1st thing.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

April 1, 2010

The writer of The Scientist article obviously got the excerpt in question wrong. It would be nice if the staff corrected this so we could properly judge whether there was truly a crime here or not for ourselves.
Avatar of: Alison McCook

Alison McCook

Posts: 68

April 1, 2010

You're right that this case is not about lifting specific phrases from one paper to another, which makes the infraction harder to spot -- Bob Grant investigated the nature of the plagiarism during his reporting, and will post more information in a comment shortly.\n\nThanks,\nAlison McCook\nDeputy Editor
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

April 1, 2010

After reading both paragraphs over, I don't see where the "paraphrasing" has occurred. This situation is more than a bit ridiculous.
Avatar of: Kia Wee Tan

Kia Wee Tan

Posts: 1

April 1, 2010

Wait what? This is retractable plagiarism?
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 17

April 1, 2010

The whole story was compelling, until I read both paragraphs. I would've never consider Sticklen's paragraph identical to the other as the editor Gressel said, or even paraphrased. Maybe I don't know enough in this field to notice plagiarism here.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 2

April 1, 2010

I agree with other posters, if this is plagiarism, anyone invited to write a review should decline. Incorrect attribution, but not plagiarism as I have been taught...... or maybe I havent been taught at all.\nI seriously thought it was an April 1 joke.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 2

April 1, 2010

I am shocked that some posters fail to see the obvious plagiarism. The paragraphs have identical structure and even the same phrasing. Only references to the actual research in the paper have been edited out. I am also shocked that Dr. Sticklen claims no responsibility. Any self-respecting scientist would have been wary to publish anything that they could not reference in a review. There is clear evidence that she was conscious of the fraud when she referenced papers that were unrelated to the paragraph. NGR did the correct thing by retracting the review.
Avatar of: KEITH DAVIS

KEITH DAVIS

Posts: 1

April 1, 2010

I had to re-read the paragraphs several times to identify any real similarity between them. I have seen (and reported) much more flagrant cases of plagiarism, and never heard of anything coming of it. The retraction and penalities seem rather stiff, albeit, the fact that it appears some information was used that was obtained during the peer review process does indicate some action was warranted.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 5

April 1, 2010

This is an example of one of the things wrong with science today. We aren't working together to further the field. There is more of an emphasis on egos and trying to 'catch' others to put them down. There was nothing wrong with the science in her paper to get it retracted. Only a little of the same sentence structure in a paragraph. This is all the same language, sentence structures are going to be similar. Who really is wronged here? Sticklen is punished and loses credibility over similar sentence structure? That is a much greater wrong than done to the author of the original paper.\n\nDepending on the context and what else outside of that paragraph she may have based on the paper she reviewed, I can see how this could be misconduct as a reviewer but certainly not plagarism.
Avatar of: MARK WEBER

MARK WEBER

Posts: 19

April 1, 2010

Do I see editing and deliberate shuffling of words? Yes. Is that so bad? Well...In my opinion, the reason this is seriously wrong is because the text in question was edited from a manuscript that was not yet published and because it was a reviewer that took the material in such a way that when both papers came out, the authors of the original paper would appear to be the plagiarists!! This is definitely wrong, but it would be better to use a less subtle example of plagiarism to make the point.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 17

April 1, 2010

Could you enlighten me with the obvious plagiarism here please? Could you tell me what statements and what sentences tell me that Stickler's paragraph came from Shani's? I do understand the gravity of using Shani's pre-published article to do this, but it seems to me this could've come from any other article out there. I don't see what tells me it comes from him, or how are they identical as it was mentioned in this article.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 3

April 1, 2010

If I had a dime every time I saw sentences from my papers, word for word, in other papers....\n\nThe main point of review articles is to summarize the previous research. Looks like Sticklen made a mistake with citations, but there is no plagiarism. \nThis must be April's Fool Joke or virtually every scientist who ever published can be suspended for a mistake with citations. \nJust does not make any sense!
Avatar of: Beverly Colley

Beverly Colley

Posts: 2

April 1, 2010

I was not very convinced this was plagiarism in the typical way I think of it. It seems it was a case of discussing an idea without giving due credit for it to the originators. If in 2008 they were not the sole originators of the idea discussed, then what she did was unethical and indeed plagiarism. However, if the idea was well known in the field then the use of the word attribution may be more accurate than plagiarism.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 17

April 1, 2010

Exactly, that is what a REVIEW article is for!! However, I think that the fact that Stickler admitted to have maybe mixed up index cards from Shani's paper suggests that she may have used his unpublished paper ideas for her review which in that case there is a big problem.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 3

April 1, 2010

Remember: \n\nCopying from one individual is plagiarism \n\nCopying from many is science\n\n\n\nHappy All Fools' Day
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

April 1, 2010

Obviously the 2 paragraphs presented are not "almost identical" (Gressel), and if having two references in the wrong place is a clincher for plagiarism, then a fair proportion of the (many) manuscripts which I review must include plagiarism. If the author of this article in The Scientist has more solid facts to present on this 'plagiarism' issue, then they need to be much more convincing than anything which he has given us to date.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 4

April 1, 2010

silly edits: mariam not miriam, broken link to msu.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 3

April 1, 2010

I think MSU has gone too far in their assessment of the situation. I am sure if the committee look at their published reviews (if they have done it) they will find out that they have done more than what the scicntist in question. did. This is a review (common) and it is not peer reviewed research mansucript where the race for publishing first is paramount. I am sorry, MSU should reevaluate the situation and admit their harsh judgedment.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 17

April 1, 2010

Only if the so called paraphrased information is novel can this be considered a violation of confidence. Otherwise there is zero here to warrant the official reaction. A colleague of mine once showed me a review article of his that was reproduced word for word by a big name in the field. This happened more than 30 years ago, when there was essentially no recourse available. If I can find both articles on the Web I will post their URLs so you can see what I mean.
Avatar of: Ricardo Pautassi

Ricardo Pautassi

Posts: 2

April 1, 2010

Please tell me this is a joke. If not, we are all wasting time and energy and forgeting what the real ethic problems are.
Avatar of: RON HANSING

RON HANSING

Posts: 20

April 1, 2010

It's always a problem, what to reference and what not. Personally, I would not be offended if I did not get the reference. \n\nIt's the science that's important, not the scientists.... or as in the humanities, where it is a cardinal sin resulting in all five degrees of torture. \n\nWith apologies if this offends anyone. so sorry.\n\nron hansing\n\n\n
Avatar of: James Sacco

James Sacco

Posts: 10

April 1, 2010

Is it a coincidence that this was published on April 1st?
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 5

April 1, 2010

It looks like what was written here kinda de-emphasised the important details that do make this constitute plagarism.\n\nWhen I first read this, I thought both paragraphs were just stating well know facts and ideas and that the plagarism was how they were stated and the claim of plagarism was ridiculous.\n\nBut, after reading carefully,\n-Both articles were review articles.\n-The similarities were novel ideas, tying together of research findings, not well know ideas.\n-The changes made to Dr Sticklen's manuscript incorporating these ideas was after most of the manuscript was written, in the very short period of time between when she read the paper she was reviewing and finalized her manuscript.\n\nConsidering it from that point of view, it doesn't appear like such an outrageous claim.\n\nAlthough from the benefit of science, it is good those ideas got other there in 2008 instead of waiting until the original paper was published in 2010.\n
Avatar of: Mitchell Wachtel

Mitchell Wachtel

Posts: 30

April 1, 2010

Since I do not understand either paragraph, it is hard to judge.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 125

April 1, 2010

If Dr. Stricken was stricken (no pun intended) with a brain problem, then she was in no condition to review a review, let alone write one, was she? Also, why did she wait until she fought the charge all way to the top and lost, before using her sickness as an excuse for her "mistake", then? Would she still have made it if she'd won? Hmm...
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 2

April 1, 2010

Alas, this is no April Fool's day joke.\n\nThe retraction was published on March 2.\n\nHowever, the original article is still available at the website so the retraction does not mean an entire withdrawal of the article.\n\nThis is perhaps as it should be. The "offending" paragraph has been identified and the rest of the review can be taken on its own merit.\n\nWhat is forgotten in this plagiarism debate is it should be judged on whether there is an intention to deceive. I agree with most of the other contributors that this is minor.\n\nThus Nature Review of Genetics decision to continue to make the article available is the correct one.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 107

April 1, 2010

Apparently it's actually true that Michigan is a misspelling of the yiddish word "mishuggene".
Avatar of: Jonathan Gressel

Jonathan Gressel

Posts: 14

April 2, 2010

I would like to point out some additional facts in the matter.\n\nThe concept in the paragraph under discussion was a novel idea, put forward by the first author, a graduate student, who needs due credit for his ideas, and not have them promulgated by a senior researcher in the area without attribution. To the best of my knowledge the senior researcher has not, to this day, sent a direct letter of apology to the offended graduate student. This does not seem to be very apologetic, in my mind, for an "inadvertent mistake". Perhaps a rapid apology to the authors and to both journals would have ended the affair far more quickly and amicably, with far fewer implications to the senior researcher.\n\nThe letter of complaint to me, by the authors, also questioned other sections of the Nature Reviews Genetics article, citing the same references in the same order as the Plant Science paper - and these were not, it seems, in the initial version of the review submitted to Nature Reviews Genetics. \n\nIt is a clear ethical requirement that reviewers not use information in an article being reviewed for their own benefit. In commissioning reviews, Plant Science requests original syntheses and critiques, and encourages speculations on the part of review authors. We then request that senior people in the area referee these papers and expect that reviewers not use these syntheses, critiques, and speculations before the paper they have reviewed has been published. This was alleged by the authors not to be the case, there allegations made sense, and it was referred to the other journal and to the university. Reviewer anonymity no longer holds in such cases.\n\nI find it hard to accept that the University "acted in haste" as the senior researcher claims in her interview with "The Scientist" - their proceedings took well over a year - their letters to me requested precise dates of turn around, original manuscripts, and I presume they did the same with Nature Review Genetics, needed to determine that the alleged additions were made while reviewing the Plant Science manuscript. This would only have been necessary had there been denial on the part of the senior researcher, and not if there had been an apology for an "inadvertent mistake". Plant Science considerably delayed the publication of the review to await the final decision by the University. "Haste" was hardly an issue here, except for the hasty and unethical use of others' unpublished ideas without permission or attribution while revising one's own manuscript. The university determined this was plagiarism through long proceedings, and I agree that plagiarism can be of ideas, and does not require fully identical text.\n\nI would have far more sympathy for the senior researcher had she immediately set the record straight through an apology to the authors and the journals.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 14

April 2, 2010

If after seeing that she had taken ideas from another?s paper she was reviewing and calling them her own, even if she had been in a stupor due to a neuro-psychological disorder, she can tell the Scientist "All I know is that I did not do wrong", then she indeed needs the university mandated ?additional mentoring including attendance at the MSU Workshop on Responsible Conduct of Research?. Wrong was done, for whatever reason, and MSU and Nature Reviews Genetics righted it. It is unfortunate that a few years later she still does not realize that wrong was done.\n
Avatar of: Vinay Rale

Vinay Rale

Posts: 6

April 2, 2010

I am remined of my own case in 1994 when I was penalized exclusively for the plagiarism done by my doctoral student. After having gone through all the opinions , I seemed to satisfy all that was desired - sending regrets to the editor , keeping the vice chanellor informed from time to time and taking his instructions. The student having taken the full responsibility and the enquiry committee not giving any conclusions towards the charges , the University of Pune still decided to inflict the harshest possible punishment at an age 44. My case is still in the judiciary process and has become difficult since the judiciary does not understand science and scientific research process at all. I am fighting a lone battle against might institution which has all the resources. Can the scientific community help me to reinstate ?
Avatar of: Mariam Sticklen

Mariam Sticklen

Posts: 20

April 2, 2010

I am the author of the Nature Review Genetics article. After his interview with me yesterday, the author of the article published in this issue of The Scientist, Bob Grant asked me to make a personal comment about the whole MSU scenario of me being found guilty. I say, if I am guilty at all, I must be guilty of getting genetic mutations happenining to me by being exposed to harmful chemicals or radio isotopes, probably in my own laboratory at my own university. The university that has had reported my guilt of parphrasing a paragraph in my article that I was invited by Nature Review Genetics Chief Editor to write. My university totally ignored the preliminary medical report that I provided to all of the Investigative Committee members. None of the Investigative Committee members were physician who cared for or understand my medical problem. \nI was diagnosed with Essential Thrombocythemia (high platelets of over 1.3 millions instead of maximum allowable 400,000 per liter of blood) through my routine annual physical blood test of 2005. I had no genetics or previous high platelet problems. This disease is rear genetic mutation which is known to be caused by possible exposures to harmful chemicals or radiations. As my doctors have diagnosed, I have had sudden but continuous ?blood clotting resulting in Cerebrovascular changes, changes in memory and cognitive functioning? meaning I have minor strokes, clogging and bursting my memory cells. Almost impossible to control the problem unless bone marrow trasplant is performed. If not controlled, the disease will cause major heart or brain stroke (loss of speech and balance control). Taking possible medications, so far doctors have not been able to reduce my platelet to less than 700,000. While it is not known how and where my genes have been mutated, it is important that scientists be careful of using harmful chemicals and radioisotopes in their laboratories. Yes, Essential Thrombocythemia or high platelets affects on cognition functioning and memory resulting in mistakes as that of mine in the invited review article that I wrote for Nature Review Genetics in 2008, the article that I requested to be retracted, and is now retracted with my apology note to the authors of the Plant Science article, Shani et al. \nI am not healthy or coherent to make more comments. However, in my next posting I will try to send doctors reports on my health situation, which has resulted in Medical Leave of Absence (Short-Term Disability Leave) that my university (the same university who has reported me guilty) has given me at present. Please read the Doctors Report on my Medical Leave of Absence/Short-Term medical leave in my next Comment. It looks like number or words per each comment is limited. \n \n \n\n\n
Avatar of: Mariam Sticklen

Mariam Sticklen

Posts: 20

April 2, 2010

The system does not allow me to post doctors repor on the matter. Please send me an Email at stickle1@msu.edu, if you wish. I will gladly send you the doctors reports which are included in the MSU Medical Leave of Absence or Short-Term Disability Leave document. Currently, I am under treatment while in Medical Leave from MSU.\n \n\n \n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 10

April 2, 2010

The medical condition of Dr Stricklen is sad, but not pertinent.\n\nThe harsh punishment is wholly disproportionate to this allegation of a minor offense. Indeed, IMO this is such a "greyzone" matter that it is not clear any misconduct has actually occurred.\n\nTo whom are the authorities at MSU and Nature that we should write to inform that they are cruel idiots.\n\n
Avatar of: JEFFREY BREWSTER

JEFFREY BREWSTER

Posts: 5

April 2, 2010

Although there is a vague similarity between the two passages, I'd be hard pressed to call it paraphrasing, much less plagiarism. These are two review articles about the same field, so there are going to be parallels. But editor Gressel's claim's that the two paragraphs are "almost identical" or "nearly verbatim" are ridiculous. \n\nI'm far more alarmed that Gressel unilaterally decided to divulge the reviewer's identity on such flimsy grounds. Is reviewer confidentiality subject to the whim of any editor?\n\nIt's also hard to understand the decision to retract the Sticklen paper. Even if text had been directly copied, the validity of the review was not altered. Why not just publish an errata statement noting the lack of attribution and be done with it? \n\nSeems like there is more going on here than meets the eye.\n\n\n
Avatar of: JEFFREY BREWSTER

JEFFREY BREWSTER

Posts: 5

April 2, 2010

Prof. Gressel writes "The concept in the paragraph under discussion was a novel idea..."\n\nCan Prof. Gressel (or someone else) explain the novel idea expressed in the sample passage? I'm only seeing a description of research by others.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 14

April 2, 2010

I am appalled by all the apologists. Sticklen was a high priest in the area cellulose and biofuel. She abused a neophyte by lifting his ideas, which she received under privilege and called them her own. We are seeing below the same lines used to pooh pooh other priestly abuses of power over minors: "it happened to a friend of mine - he just shut up", "stealing ideas from a paper you are reviewing is a minor offense", "it should not have been brought to the attention of the authorities". They say this even after she admits to have used the ideas of another in her review, provided to her under privilege, yet she is unrepentant. \n\nAccording to the article, the university cogitated over the evidence, examined manuscripts side by side, checked dates and did due deliberation. I am sure that they did not want to find one of their high priests guilty - she brought in big grants, was a key speaker at many a meeting, and brought the university into the limelight. Still, they performed due process, and I am sure came to a reluctant decision that withstood appeals. Still the apologists fault the whistle blowers, the offended student, and not the priest who abused power.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 20

April 2, 2010

The story reminds me of one of the NY Times best sellers books (now on video film) called The Stonning of Soraya M. It is "riveting...impossible to turn away from". See this Emotionally Explosive" movie.
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anonymous poster

Posts: 20

April 2, 2010

"Riveting...impossible to turn away from" Leonard Martin
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anonymous poster

Posts: 1

April 2, 2010

I see no novel idea in the first author's paragraph. It is a review of other's data. Also the "plagerized" article appears different enough, also including reference to work done in that person's own lab, that it this is not plagerism. Maybe self plagerism. \n\nTo actully accuse of plagerism appears wrong. To admit to plagerism appears highly ethical in this case (as most of us don't see it), and to pull a REVIEW is nuts. \n\n
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anonymous poster

Posts: 20

April 2, 2010

One questions how many anonymous comments are from those involved from MSU!
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

April 2, 2010

I'm amazed by how many people don't get why this is plagiarism. Granted, the paragraphs don't make it exceptionally clear, so let me try to explain ...\n\nA young, not well known scientist comes up with a new idea of how to make biofuel from plants. He writes about it and submits his paper for review.\n\nA senior plant scientist reviews his paper and - long before the young scientist's paper has been published - includes the same idea in her own review without attributing it to the young scientist.\n\nThus, the senior scientist presented the junior scientist's unpublished idea (which she had access to during the course of peer review) as her own.\n\nI could maybe believe that it was unintentional (the senior scientist had made some notes and thought the idea came from a published paper), but it is clearly wrong and the paper was rightfully retracted.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 20

April 2, 2010

What idea? Review articles combine reviews of articles that are already published (and patented if novel) papers. This is what has happended in this case. No scientist puts a new idea in a review paper without protecting his/her idea. If novel, patents are filed before any publication.Dr. Sticklen has already apologized to the authors of Plant Science article while retracting her invited article(see her comments in the retracted article). Senior scientists have no needs to accept invited review articles. They are dedicated and that is all the reason. As one comment said, no senior scientist dares to accept to write review articles any more. Unintentional mistakes do happen!
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 20

April 3, 2010

My, My! Who ever thought that academics have enemies among themselves ready to cut each others? throats! You the ?high priest" story teller, you are degrading all hard working scientists. You sound like scientists work hard and bring large grants to bring themselves to power. You wrote that she has abused her power. You wrote that she brought in big grants, was key speaker at many meetings, and brought the university into the limelight. You must be associated with her university to know her qualifications so well! Bringing of big grants and speaking at many meetings does not give power to a professor, rather it gives the power to university of such dedicated professor. Hard working big grant bringing professors are dedicated without thinking of power. No, they do not work hard for getting power! Your comment is degrading and insulting to all hard working, "big grant bringing" professors that bring their universities to ?limelight"!\n\nYes, she did a mistake, she said due to her brain/cognitive/memory problem and apprently her university has given her medical leave of absence or short-term disability leave. She has already retracted her invited NRG article with an apology note to the authors of Plant Science article (those you call the little guys)! What else did you expect her to do; you her academic colleague? Have you ever done a mistake? Did you ever apologized for your mistake? But she did! SO, LEAVE HER ALONE PLEASE!\n\n\n\n
Avatar of: VETURY SITARAMAM

VETURY SITARAMAM

Posts: 69

April 3, 2010

Stealing ideas is very common and it occurs in the form of citation malpractices. The common Indian experience is that the work is cited in a review and subsequent reviews ignore the original worker and the work is appropriated by the reviewer. I have sent to this ejournal a complete case of Annals of Botany who published not only an appropriated idea from us as a review, but also wrote wrong science. The editor refuted protecting the handling editor David Lawlor and the Office of research integrity had to protect the fellow British and gave one of the most dismal statements letting the authors (from New Zealand, I think) and of course the editors go scotfree. TS did not find it worth its while to talk about it. Nature ran an underemphasized blog on this and the editor, Heslop Harrison was conspicuous by silence. See\nhttp://blogs.nature.com/news/thegreatbeyond/2009/03/indian_researcher_charges_jour.html.\nWhat I find amazing is considerable lack of sensitivity unless it affects a Western authorship. Most Indians are convinced about this state of affairs.It is time we examine our souls.
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anonymous poster

Posts: 77

April 3, 2010

I tend to agree with "Plagiarism obvious", Keith Davis, and "After reading more carefully". Jonathan Gresset's note reinforces my judgment. As it's not my area of specialty either, it took several readings to get above the unfamiliar terms and the lay or literary meaning of plagiarism.\n\nSeveral commentators here, who "can't see it", are using the narrow definition of plagiarism in the literary context as in; "Unless one's caught using the exact words in the same order, one can't be accused of plagiarism". Rather, as a scientist, my training and hard-earned experience in having my own ideas "lifted" brought me to strongly hold Gresset's opinion that "... plagiarism can be of ideas, and does not require fully identical text." That moves the analysis of the two paragraphs presented to another level which makes the offense more obvious - and "paraphrase without attribution" just another synonym for plagiarism. \n\nTo further clarify the issue, I would narrow Gresset's general statement to more tightly fit the case at hand. Here, we are not talking about literary plagiarism, where turn-of-phrase may well be the precious object, but science, where ideas are the things of importance - regardless of their phrasing. That is why, in science, less ambiguous empirical measure or mathematical statement is preferred to literary description whenever possible. Such confusion between literary and scientific use and meaning of the same terms is common when dealing with the lay public. For another common example, the scientific use of "significant" to mean only "not attributable to typical or random variation" (i. e., statistically significant) and the too often erroneous interpretation of that word, in the literary sense, to mean important, substantial, meaningful etc (the latter requiring justification beyond the statistical finding).\n\nAs Gresset's note illustrates, there's more to be told and IMO, when told, likely to make the university's and publisher's stand on the matter more understandable and acceptable. As for matters in extenuation and mitigation, it is best to let the writings and time-line speak to the issue of plagiarism (or not), and those matters, to the appropriate punishment which, it appears, the institutions have done. That said and regarding the claim of mental incoherence, I find the high literary coherence of the Sticklen paragraph (composed at the time of the incident) to be at odds with that claim. If anything, even for an early draft, it's Abramson et. al that seem to be in need of serious editing. \n\nDisclaimer: I'm not involved, in any way, with any of the institutions or people under discussion.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 182

April 3, 2010

\n\nI feel grateful to MSU University and NGR for their inquiries and decisions. \n\nI admire Dr Sticklen?s courage and humility in sharing her side of the story and I sincerely hope that she gets well soon and back into what she likes most doing.\n
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anonymous poster

Posts: 20

April 3, 2010

I am from MSU and have known Dr. Sticklen well for too many years. Regardless of those trying to "cut her throat" out of jealousy, she has her job, will get her health back and once again will bring Michigan State University at ?limelight? through her innovations in research leadership and excellence in teaching! Just watch her! SHE WILL BE BACK, ONLY STRONGER!\n\nRead more: The Scientist : Post a comment http://www.the-scientist.com/templates/trackable/forum/addcomment.jsp?parent_id=57267#ixzz0k4Ut7n4O\n
Avatar of: Jon Sticklen

Jon Sticklen

Posts: 1

April 4, 2010

The intellectual area in which this case is embedded is far from my primary research area. I cannot comment on specifics with any authority. Nor can I legitimately comment on what are or are not the norms for publication in this area. I will leave judgement about specifics to others.\n\nBut I can, and am, commenting on a thirty year career of Dr. M Sticklen. She started out at MSU in the context of a two-body faculty problem, and as a non-tenure stream researcher. She worked extremely hard with her area, and after a long and arduous path was rewarded by moving to a tenured position and point person of a very productive laboratory focused on cutting edge research. \n\nAnd through those thirty odd years, she has professionally always demonstrated the highest standards of conduct and professional integrity. \n\nAnother commentator wrote that the issue of Prof. M. Sticklen being a senior researcher was an important part of understanding this situation. I agree. Part of building a context in which to understand this incident in my view must include past record. One does not become a malicious thief of the ideas of others over night. \n\nTo state it clearly - the allegation of willful plagiarism by Dr. M. Sticklen is so far removed from her character and her record of exemplary and ethical research over thirty years, that it is very hard to believe. \n\nAnother poster indicated skepticism about many anonymous posts to this thread. I agree with that to an extent. Except if someone feels vulnerable for posting here, anonymity is not desirable. \n\nI am posting with my name. To make it clear, I am at MSU. To make it more clear, I am Prof. M. Sticklen's ex-husband; we have been apart for over a decade. But I have followed with interest the career and the accomplishments of M. Sticklen. \n\nMy total experience with her is that she has the highest standards of professional behavior. \n\nI realize that my post is basically a "character reference" in this matter. But after all - isn't this about character?\n\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 20

April 4, 2010

The Editor of Plant Science wrote in his comments, ?As these were review articles, the "plagiarism" involved had less to do with copying specific sections of text and more about borrowing the ideas contained in the original paragraph, one of only a handful in the Plant Science manuscript that contained mention of new ideas or hypotheses.? This Editor sounds like review articles are patents! As one commented before, review articles are compiled non-proprietary published documents, otherwise they were called patents. I say loudly, ?Non-sense?. \n\nPlant Science is an OK journal with an impact factor of less than one tenth of that of each of the Nature journals including Nature Review Genetics. Let us see if the whistle blowing will increase the Plan Science impact factor. \n\nMSU should have not listenned to the whistle blower!

April 5, 2010

Initially, I couldn't understand how Dr. Sticklen's paragraph plagiarized the paragraph from the Plant Science article. However, the posting by Jon Gessel made it clear to me. \n\nIt is my understanding that authors of review articles are encouraged to consider the information they've gathered and, through synthesis of the results and concepts of the cited publications and their own perspective, to propose future directions in the field. In this context, the (graduate student) first author of the Plant Science article included a novel idea in his manuscript. Public credit for this idea might give his career a significant boost. (Whether the idea was patented is irrelevant in this context; its first publication is what will matter to his future colleagues.) Dr. Sticklen reviewed said manuscript and, in violation of reviewer confidentiality, not only included the idea in her own review article, but did so without attributing it to its originator. I must agree that this constitutes intellectual plagiarism.\n\nDr. Sticklen's error may or may not have been deliberate or conscious. Her essential thrombocythemia may or may not have been a contributing factor. In any case, retraction of her article and apologies to all offended parties seem clearly appropriate. \n\nOversight of Dr. Sticklen's work until her doctors certify that she is no longer developing new blood clots in her brain may be more a protection for her (and MSU's) reputation than a punishment.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 20

April 5, 2010

On April 3rd basketball game between MSU and Butler, Tom Izzo unintentionally stepped in the basketball court and even walked a few small steps. Immediately, one of the MSU players run, hugged him and got him away from the court. Then referees gave Tom a break!\n\nIf you are a basketball nut who ?lives, eats and breaths? basketball as I do, you have not missed this nerve breaking part of the game. Dr. Sticklen's fault is no more than that of Tom Izzo?s during the MSU-Butler game. Sticklen and Izzo knew better, but did unintentional mistakes.
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naomi diaz

Posts: 17

April 5, 2010

Some people are arguing that the plagiarism was because she lifted a novel idea from Shani's paper and I would like them to tell me exactly what was it that she wrote that was never done before. People are just repeating what the editor said, without investigating if this was an actual novel idea. Some experts in the matter have commented here that those ideas are not novel, which may be why so many people here can't see plagiarism in this two different paragraphs. I will go with those who know about the topic. \nI admire Dr. Sticklen's ex-husband for his comment.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 20

April 5, 2010

1. The student did not publish a paper by himself. He has published it along with his professor who is also a CEO (see The Scientist report) of his own company. If there was a new idea, at least the professor would have patented it before being submitted for publication. \n\n2. The Plant Science paper was/is a review paper not a research paper. Research papers show the "how to" but review papers do not. Only a fool might put a new idea in a review paper. No, there was no new idea!
Avatar of: Nitin Gandhi

Nitin Gandhi

Posts: 34

April 5, 2010

I have to really break my head over the article to understand where is Plagiarism?\nReview article is actually nothing but the repitition of what is already published written to help new-comer in the field -it is "essentially" CUT and PASTE work so where is question of novel idea and subsequently Plagiarism? I have only one word for entire episode (if it is real and not Joke) that word is \n SILLY!!\n\n
Avatar of: RON HANSING

RON HANSING

Posts: 20

April 6, 2010

With regard to copy right law, one can not copy right an idea. Hollywood does it all the time, taking an idea of a sceen play and writing a play around the idea. \n\nI could submit a thousand ideas for publishing, and when I am not reference, I could raise a howl.\n\nIt seems that people are upset because he wasn't referenced.... but the reality is that he has received a 1000 times more recognition than if this controversy did not occur. So, what's the beef? \n\nKen Kesay once said when someone allegelly wrote something similar to what he had written, when asked if he was outraged,he said, "Heck no, I consider it a complement."
Avatar of: Louisa Flintoft

Louisa Flintoft

Posts: 1

April 7, 2010

As Chief Editor of Nature Reviews Genetics (and indeed the handling editor on Dr Sticklen?s review article) I would like to make a few clarifications.\n\nJonathan Gressel, the reviews editor of Plant Science, makes two key points that explain the need for the retraction of Mariam Sticklen?s review article. A novel idea, not simply a restatement of previously published ideas, was not credited to the source. Furthermore, the idea was obtained by breaching the confidentiality of the peer review process. \n\nThe MSU investigation was detailed and lengthy. Nature Reviews Genetics provided the inquiry with copies of multiple revised versions of Dr Sticklen?s review manuscript to aid the process.\n\nFinally, I would like to reassure potential authors of review articles. Review articles of course restate the ideas of others, and no author will be penalized for doing this if the manuscript contains appropriate attribution. When journals receive correspondence relating to incorrect or missing citations of published work, journals consider publishing a correction that provides the relevant information ? we have done this several times. However, this case was significantly different due to the breach of the peer review process at Plant Science. This required more serious action: a retraction was the appropriate response.\n\n\n
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anonymous poster

Posts: 3

April 7, 2010

Some of the people who see this case differently have ignored a key issue. It is not how similar the phases are, it is the idea that she got it from others without attribution. It is an increasing trend that when people write an article these days, they just state a point and it looks like it?s their own ideas without appropriate citation. It has become a widespread phenomenon but it is dead wrong and should not be tolerated! \n \nThis timely report certainly can serve as a wakeup call for many.
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anonymous poster

Posts: 85

April 7, 2010

A gazillion years ago, I wrote an exhaustively in-depth review article that was published in a prestigious review series published by Academic Press. A couple of years after my article was published, another scientist (significantly senior to me) working in the same field published a review article with somewhat greater breadth of subject areas. For the section of his article that covered the same topic as my more in-depth article, he simply cut and pasted several paragraphs from my own review. Although he "covered his #**" by referencing my article at the end of each paragraph, he did not enclose my paragraphs in quotation marks. Once I had absorbed my anger over this, I realized that Academic Press had the rights to my review article, not me; and my senior colleague's review article was also published in an Academic Press anthology, and therefore Academic Press had the rights to his article also. \n\nGiven the circumstances, was this technically "plagiarism"? Probably not. Still, I felt violated by the senior scientist's actions. Nearly a decade afterward, I was in social conversation with the senior scientist and he told me how impressed he had been with the thoroughness and thoughtfulness of my review article. I smiled and thanked him and then said, as gently as I could, that I had noticed that he had used portions in his own article, and he replied that yes, he considered what he had done to be a great compliment to me, since I had already phrased everything so much better than he could have done! Que faire? I thanked him for the compliment. But it still eats at me, nearly thirty years later.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 20

April 7, 2010

I am a senior scientist understanding the subjects of both articles. Reading the Plant Science article, I see absolutely no new idea in the whole article. The borrowed paragraph has been paraphrased (as the retraction note reads too), and I see that Dr. Sticklen has herself retracted article with a genuine apology to the authors of Plant Science article. \nAfter all, a senior scientist such as Dr. Sticklen had absolutely no needs to accept the Nature invitation to write. This is an example of disappointments that some of the senior scientist face, learning their lessons of not to publish after getting their tenure or after been promoted to full prof. Writing a review article for Nature requires over hundreds of hours of dedicated time. And then being so humilated for that! I think the deadwood professor know better!
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 182

April 7, 2010

\n\n\nI am sorry to say that your argument is not convincing at all.\n\n**disappointments that some of the senior scientist face, learning their lessons of not to publish after getting their tenure or after been promoted to full prof. Writing a review article for Nature requires over hundreds of hours of dedicated time. And then being so humilated for that! I think the deadwood professor know better!**\n\n\nHaving reached tenure status does not mean expecting special treatment or considering the tenure professor?s time more valuable than that of a junior investigator. If anything, a tenure professor is expected 1) to be considerate on the junior struggling to establish himself as an investigator and 2) to know and respect the rules of the review process.\n\n\n
Avatar of: JEFFREY BREWSTER

JEFFREY BREWSTER

Posts: 5

April 8, 2010

Would someone please articulate the original idea that was presented in the Shani review?
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 20

April 8, 2010

But a student can not submit a review paper for publication. The student's prof, the powerful CEO of a company and a professor at the site must have submitted the Plant Science article. As said by others, no novel idea is put in a review paper.
Avatar of: Lawrence Ebert

Lawrence Ebert

Posts: 8

April 8, 2010

Plagiarism is copying without attribution, and is not a violation of any federal law. Copyright infringement, which is copying copyrighted text without permission (even if properly cited), is NOT coextensive with plagiarism and is a violation of federal law. One is free to plagiarize public domain material without violating copyright law. [Under the Dastar decision, one can claim to have authored Hamlet.] Here, the material in question was given to Sticklen under an agreement of confidentiality, and was not public domain material. Further, once fixed in tangible form, the material in question would be copyrighted under US law (tho registration would be needed for a right to sue). Independent creation is a defense to copyright infringement, but does not look promising here. As to the inadvertence argument, the intentional substitution of the two references is problematic.\nPatent infringement requires one to have an issued patent, and is established by measuring an accused product or process against a claim of the patent. A different patent issue in Sticklen's review article is the mention of RNAi, in which Sticklen has a PCT application, and thus an economic interest, undisclosed by Nature RG. [Coincidentially, a different application of Sticklen's received an unfavorable action at the BPAI on April 8].\nAlthough I suspect all the dates in this case have been vetted, I note the link to the Plant Science paper states: Received 24 June 2009; revised 11 November 2009. How can an article published in June 2008 plagiarize from a paper not received by the journal until 2009?
Avatar of: Shi Liu

Shi Liu

Posts: 32

April 9, 2010

Towards a Balanced View on iPS Cells (Logical Biology 8 (1):32-38, 2008; http://logibio.com/LB2008V8N1A10_BalancedView.pdf)\n\nStem cells: 5 things to know before jumping on the iPS bandwagon (Nature 452: 406-408, 2008, http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080326/full/452406a.html )\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

April 9, 2010

It seems that this issue is becoming more like a hollywood gossip material. I am from MSU and I think that a well-established scientist like Dr Sticklen who has achieved as much as she has, would not do this on purpose. Besides she has admitted her mistake, apologized, and retracted her paper. This has been enough embarassment for her. \nAlso, this isn't the first time plagiarism has happened in science. There are instances of much bigger plagiarisms and much more unethical science that never get caught or penalized. It seems as though she is just being used as an example. Somehow it seems that there is much more in this issue that just her using an idea/paragraph out of a paper in her review article. And everybody discussing this matter on discussion threads like this and blaming her for this is just making it worse. I think by now she realizes that she has made a mistake and we should stop pointing fingers at her, who knows, one day in our scientific careers we may also make a truely honest mistake....it is only human to make mistakes
Avatar of: Andrew Burd

Andrew Burd

Posts: 4

April 10, 2010

1) Posting was in the afternoon of April 1st therefore cannot be an April fool (NB is this a Universal understanding?)\n2) Plagerism is the theft of another persons writing or ideas therefore the paragraphs do not need to be identical for plagerism to have occurred\n3) I quote from the blog "Sticklen told The Scientist that her mistake was inadvertent, precipitated by a medical condition that affected her memory and cognition. "All I know is that I did not do wrong," she said." People who suffer from a medical condition that interferes with cognitive function ie the ability to process information should NOT be involved in the procedure of academic review. \n\nIt is this third point that concerns me most and the reality is that we have to appreciate the fragility of life; even Nobel Laureates can develop Alzheimer's and there is no shame in that. Just a profound sadness. One can but wish Dr Sticklen well, but perhaps it is time for her to spend more time in her garden, for "all will be well in the garden". (Chance in Being There).\n\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 14

April 10, 2010

A perusal of her website\nhttps://www.msu.edu/~stickle1/Recent%20Invited-Rev-Art.html\nshows that she has not retracted the paper. \nHer extensive travel and speaking schedule on her website shows that in the two years after the ideas of the student were adopted as her own she has had a rather intensive speaking and meeting schedule. Regrettably she may be ill now, but appears to have been pretty vigorous at the time.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 20

April 10, 2010

I have spent years studying Essential Thrombocythosis (ET) disease. It is a genetic mutation that not only makes the patient?s bone morrow to multiply its pre-platelets like crazy, but makes some of the platelets very larger than normal (called ?mega platelets?). The high number of platelets and especially the mega platelets randomly clog up vessels associated with brain cells. Memory cells are all over the brain, and when ever platelets clog the vessels of a recent memory cell, there will be a complete black out of such memory. This is called cerebrovascular disease. It is not Alzheimer. Rather it is randomly bursting of memory cells that their vessels are clogged up by high and mega platelets. In appearance, the patient looks VERY Normal with no symptoms of any illness, can go and give multiple speeches and do other routive activities while not knowing of a memory black out unless some one brings such complete forgetfulness to his/her attention. \nSo, my questions are: \n1. were there other memory black outs brought to her attention? \n2. Did her boss, students or especially her secretary notice her memory black outs? \n3. Are the Esstential Thrombocythosis disease and cerebrovascular the basis for MSU putting her in medical leave of absence? After all, there must be a doctor report to MSU confirming her high platelets and her memory problem. No medical leave of absence is given to a professor without a solid report by one or more doctors!
Avatar of: Andrew Burd

Andrew Burd

Posts: 4

April 11, 2010

I am not suggesting that Dr Sticklen has Alzheimer's but using this as an example..Charles K Kao "father of fiber optics" is such a case. ET is different but there are a whole range of conditions which affect cognitive function. One of our Sunday lunch guests was going back to mark exam papers and so declined a glass of wine! A recent post suggests that she (Dr Sticklen) was very active in the last few years and using this as an indication that she must have been okay BUT it is Dr Sticklen who has used her ET as an excuse for her 'mistake'. The cliche that comes to mind relates to cakes. We are human. We make mistakes. Mistakes can be forgiven but excuses...?
Avatar of: Lawrence Ebert

Lawrence Ebert

Posts: 8

April 12, 2010

Plagiarism is copying without attribution of text, whether or not that text comprises a novel idea. In the present situation, an argument would be that BOTH articles are review articles, merely compiling that which is known. In the copyright context (which is not coextensive with plagiarism), one can get protection in things like phone books, which are compilations of known material. All of that said, there is something additionally at issue here. The Plant Science people talked about their OWN work. That relates to text associated with ref. 149 of the published Plant Science paper. Note the correspondence of footnotes between Sticklen's review and the published Plant Science paper. Ref 61 of Sticklen is Han 1990 which is the same as ref. 148 of the published Plant Science paper. \nRef. 62/63 of Sticklen are Graves/Kawasaki. There is NO analog of ref. 149 of Plant Science in Sticklen BUT ref. 150/151 of Plant Science are in fact Kawasaki/Graves.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 20

April 12, 2010

Dr. Sticklen's homepage shows that she had effectively worked during 2009, serving as Guest Editor of Special Issue of BIOFPR called The Cutting Edge??where industry have written on their biofuels and bio-products for improving of the economy. She has also written an article in such special issue, giving invited speeches and serving on high profile committees too. Have it occurred in any ones mind that she was getting paid by MSU and tried to do her best as a good citizen and employee while going under medical treatment? Critiques like to think negative without a daubt. Blaming her for her being still dedicated in 2009 at cost of her health! \nI hope doctors get a control of her platelet numbers via bone morrow transplant (50:50 survival rate) or by any other methods and she will continue her dedications and hard work. Sounds like it has been her dedications to improve the biofuels sciences which has kept her going. \n
Avatar of: Max Klein

Max Klein

Posts: 1

April 20, 2010

This is about the THEFT of IDEAS, not about the theft/plagiarism of facts. The original review took facts in the public domain and interpreted them in a novel way to yield new insights. What she did was copy/steal/paraphrase someone elses IDEAS and present them as her own (i.e "forgetting" to say whose they were). That the ideas were not Nobel Prize stuff is not relevant. Anonymous peer review lies at the heart of scientific publication. If authors thought that reviewers of a particular journal would steal their ideas they would not submit anything to that journal and it would go out of business - costing many peoples jobs and livelihoods. If she had inserted the words verbatim one probably would have accepted that she made an honest mistake in a moment of forgetfulness. But the proof that she's lying is that THE WORDS ARE NOT COPIED VERBATIM. They are so skilfully paraphrased/reworded/manipulated that the only conclusion must be that it was done deliberately with a high degree of intelligence, literacy and insight in orer to disguise their origin. But she left a fingerprint: she forgot to remove all the original references which enabled the source of her material to be ascertained with CERTAINTY - she couldn't deny it. She's seriously abused a position of trust and is very lucky not to have been fired.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

April 21, 2010

I failed to see any plagiarism in the two paragraphs ...somebody may kindly explain!!
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 20

April 21, 2010

There is a great classical movie directed and played by Henry Fonda in mid 50s. You who read all these posters should see that movie. Easy to make one look guilty! The professor with three decades of dedicated quality work had absolutely NO REASONS to take a paragraph from another paper unless by honest error. She could simply write her own paragraph as she has done in the rest of that Nature review article and in all of her other articles. In fact she could simply reject writing review paper for Nature and also reject accepting to peer review for Plant Science. Regardless, just rent that DVD and watch ita . You will love the movie!
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 20

April 22, 2010

Professors have two major duties; teaching and research. Like good citizens, some professors also accept invitations to serve their community (i.e. the scientific community) to write review articles for journals and/or Peer review articles for journals. \n\nWell, accepting invitations to serve her community and then being called names by colleagues because of an error while trying to be a good citizen! JUST TOO MUCH!\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 14

April 24, 2010

If the "dedicated" professor made an honest mistake, she would have immediately admitted it, and sent an apology. Thats what people who make mistakes do. Instead she repeatedly denied it, requiring a huge ingathering of evidence on sequences of events, comparing manuscripts and going over large amounts of information. In her blog below she still says she did not wrong. An honest mistake is a wrong, no matter how you cut it.
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anonymous poster

Posts: 20

April 24, 2010

Yes, I watched *The 12 Angry Men* movie played by Henry Fonda and 11 other famous actors. It sounds like this case. \n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 20

April 24, 2010

Yes, an honest mistake may be a wrong and that is why she has pologized in her retrating note. The retracting note reads: I regret this error and wish to apologize to the authors of the Plant Science article. Also, according to The Scientist report , the authors of Plant Science have accepted her apologies.
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anonymous poster

Posts: 182

April 25, 2010

\n\nAn apology usually starts with ? I regret? as a sincere recognition of a mistake and implies that a behavioral change is to follow. In this specific case, the retraction and consequential apology has not been followed by the removal of the review from Dr Sticklen?s web page. Behavioral change takes time and, if there is a medical condition, it might take a little bit longer. The question here, however, is whether she has been forced to say ?I regret? and the permanence of the review in her webpage is an expression of her disagreement. Or perhaps is another indicator on the trivialization of our human language and concepts not leading to a positive evolution of our ideas and practices.\n\nI would hope that somebody close to Dr Sticklen could help her to update her webpage.\n\nwww.msu.edu/~stickle1/Recent%20Invited-Rev-Art.html\n
Avatar of: Lawrence Ebert

Lawrence Ebert

Posts: 8

April 26, 2010

The film "12 Angry Men" (1957, directed by Sidney Lumet) was about jury deliberations in a murder case wherein some of the presented "facts" were not what they seemed to be. In the present situation, the most relevant consideration is simply a side-by-side comparison of the original text to the allegedly copied text. Plagiarism and copyright infringement concern the EXPRESSION of an idea, not the idea itself. That is an issue here. As Max Klein points out, the IDEA itself is an issue here. That Sticklen received both the idea and its expression in a confidential communication is separately an issue here. In terms of the handling of the matter, rather than reaching back to 1957, one can refer to the Pangilinan plagiarism matter of 2010 to see an example of someone immediately taking responsibility for a bad act (likely done by a subordinate).
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 20

April 26, 2010

Decades of dedicated hard work have shown her behaviors. Hopefully Dr. Sticklen health will allow her to contribute more in the future. A few colleagues constant ANGER towards her for an error is just not right!
Avatar of: Alan Price

Alan Price

Posts: 14

September 9, 2010

Regarding the initial comment posted 2010-04-08 by Lawrence Ebert -- "Plagiarism is copying without attribution, and is not a violation of any federal law" -- it is not correct. Federal regulations are the equivalent of "laws" and all federal agencies consider significant plagiarism to be "research misconduct" -- which can subject the plagiarist to federal sanctions under federal administrative law, up to debarment from federal funding. See links to such federal policies and regulations at http://ori.hhs.gov/policies/federal_policies.shtml \n\n

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