Archive for the 'Academia' Category

Dec 01 2011

So What Does it Take to Lose a University of London Ph.D?

Published by DStone under Academia

Evidently, 1200 words taken without proper attribution aren’t enough to lose you a Ph.D. As previously posted here and here, I found that much in Saif Gaddafi’s dissertation in a hour or so with google. The Saif Gaddafi plagiarism wiki has more. So we now know a lower bound for the acceptable level of cheating –the question that remains to be determined is how high you can go.

This morning, the London School of Economics released its Woolf report on its ties to the Gaddafi family and how that subverted its academic integrity.

Prominent by its absence in the report is any real discussion of the plagiarism in Saif Gaddafi’s Ph.D thesis. Granted, Saif Gaddafi has more serious problems at this point, but I’d like to think an institution of the standing of the London School of Economics would pay a bit more attention to the issue of plagiarism. The text of the report itself uses the word “plagiarism” once, though there are a few more references in footnotes. There’s no substantive discussion of what happened in Gaddafi’s dissertation.

The reason seems to be that the question of plagiarism was outsourced from the London School of Economics to the University of London, which had authority over LSE Ph.Ds at the time Gaddafi did his work. In contrast to the voluminous Woolf report, the University of London’s discussion of the matter is laughably short. In a page with the ironic heading of “1836-2011: Celebrating 175 Years of Academic Excellence,” the University of London explains that it has investigated the plagiarism allegations, passed them on to the LSE, and any details (what was found, who found it, what standards for acceptable plagiarism were employed) are confidential.

So what did the University of London conclude? Since it won’t say, we have to turn to the LSE for an answer. It’s not much of an answer. The LSE tells us “The University of London has concluded that the PhD should not be revoked. The PhD thesis has been annotated to show where attribution or references should have been made.” Move along, nothing to see here.

As you might expect, this leaves me with a couple of questions. What exactly were the grounds for concluding that the Ph.D shouldn’t be revoked? Do we now have a precedent for acceptable levels of plagiarism? Granted, I live in a more litigious society, but if I were disciplined for plagiarism at the LSE or the University of London, I’d be counting words and prepping my case.

But here’s what I really wonder: who’s the poor graduate student who got to go through Saif Qaddafi’s Ph.D thesis and fix his faulty footnotes? I’ve heard of some bad jobs in grad school, but that would seem particularly soul-destroying. In a more self-serving vein, I found at least some of the plagiarism that’s floating out there: when do I get my thank-you note from the LSE for helping them with their corrections?

One last piquant note. David Held, one of Qaddafi’s advisers at the LSE, said “The evidence for plagiarism is not as great as people think and the issue will be: to what extent did he have help from an outsider? I don’t know what the evidence is at this stage.” Held is now heading to the University of Durham. That’s the home of Joe Painter, one of the people Qaddafi plagiarized. AWKWARD!

One response so far

Jun 15 2011

Dog bites man, rain falls from sky, babies cute . . .

Published by DStone under Academia

And in other news,

Many attendees of large scholarly gatherings complain that sessions in which long papers are read aloud rarely excite the audience. One solution is the “precirculated paper,” in which scholars give out the paper in advance and spend less time reading aloud at the actual meeting, and more time in discussion. The American Historical Association has been encouraging this option for its annual meeting, but announced this week that it was suspending the practice. Among the problems: those who signed up for the option didn’t submit their papers on time, those papers that were circulated weren’t read in advance, and not enough attendees understood the concept.

It’s been a long time since postings–I thought I’d ease back in with an easy one.

No responses yet

Mar 03 2011

New Russian history group blog

Published by DStone under Academia, Websites

I’ve been meaning to mention for a couple of weeks a new Russian history group blog that has appeared in cyberspace. Straightforwardly titled Russian History Blog, it’s got a number of posting covering ongoing research and works-in-progress by a number of young historians (and by young, of course, I mean about as old as me).

Military history buffs might start with diary entries from the first days of the war in East Prussia in 1914, found and translated by Josh Sanborn.

No responses yet

Feb 28 2011

Saif Gaddafi: There’s more!

Published by DStone under Academia, Contemporary

This one took ten minutes (much quicker than last time). Gaddafi’s thesis has taken a section from a paper by Joe Painter, Head of the Geography Department at Durham. A presented version of the paper is available through Google Docs here. No citation to Painter in this section, though the dissertation does have a footnote to one of Painter’s sources.

“In sum, the old belief in congruence between national identity, territoriality, statehood and citizenship in the European Union is being challenged and undermined in three related ways. First, the supremacy of nation-states as institutions of governance is being eroded. Governance in Europe is becoming increasingly polycentric and multi-levelled. This involves the emergence of overlapping spheres of political authority at several spatial levels—local, regional, national and European.” (Gaddafi, p. 274)

“At the turn of the twenty-first century, the idea that there is or should be a congruence between national identity, territoriality, statehood and citizenship is being challenged and undermined in three related ways. First, the pre-eminence of nation-states as institutions of governance is being eroded . . . Governance in Europe is increasingly polycentric and multi-layered. For Anderson (1996) this involves the emergence of overlapping spheres of political authority at several spatial scales (local, regional, national and European). (Painter, p. 5)

“Second, in many parts of the world, state-based national identities are being challenged by regionalist or minority nationalist interests, undermining the alignment of identity and nation-state. Successful mobilisation behind regionalist goals can intensify the rate of reconfiguration of both governance and identity. Third, international migration has increased cultural diversity. Members of diasporas may form distinct regional populations, such as Russians in North-East Estonia, or they may be dispersed more evenly. Both situations will undermine the link between citizenship and national identity. In Estonia, Russians are even denied formal citizenship on grounds of ethnicity.” (Gaddafi, pp. 274-5)

“Second, in many parts of Europe state-based national identities are challenged by regionalist or minority nationalist identities. These challenges undermine the fit between identity and nation-state. In addition successful mobilisation behind regionalist goals can lead to increased political autonomy or secession, intensifying the restructuring of governance and potentially reconfiguring both the rights-based and the identity-based aspects of citizenship. . . . Third, international migration has increased cultural diversity. In some cases members of diasporas form distinct regional populations, such as the Russians in north-east Estonia (Smith and Wilson 1997). In other cases they may be dispersed more evenly. Both situations undermine the link between citizenship and national identity. In Estonia, Russians are denied even formal citizenship, on grounds of ethnicity.” (Painter, p. 5)

2 responses so far

Feb 27 2011

Saif Gaddadi, Ph.D, and the London School of Economics

Published by DStone under Academia, Contemporary

UPDATE: There’s more!

UPDATE: There’s a wiki listing other instances of plagiarism in the dissertation, none of which (at writing) overlap with mine):

The London School of Economics has come in for well-deserved heat (for example, here, here, here, here, here, and here) for its consorting with the Gaddafi clan, awarding Muammar’s son Saif a doctorate and getting back a multi-million dollar donation (though the check seems to have been delayed in the mail, only part of the funds having been received and actually spent).

Unseemly, certainly, but what if Said did the work and earned his Ph.D fair and square? Saif promised in his dissertation that “I certify that the thesis I have presented for examination for the MPhil/PhD degree of the London School of Economics and Political Science is solely my own work other than where I have clearly indicated that it is the work of others.” His examiner Lord Desai declared “I grilled him for two hours on it — there was no suggestion he hadn’t written it himself.”

Oops. I spent an hour on google and found big chunks of plagiarized material, evidently not caught by the academics whom Saif thanks in his dissertation: Nancy Cartwright, David Held, Alex Voorhoeve, and Joseph Nye.

Compared to turning combat aircraft on crowds of civilians, cutting corners on your dissertation is small beer. But it does raise important questions about what happens to scholarly standards when big piles of money are involved. You can see Saif Gaddafi’s dissertation here.

The first set of suspicious passages I found came from a report by Tony Hill on UN cooperation with non-governmental organizations, available for download as a link on this page.

“Partly in response to the experience of NGO participation at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, a working group was established by ECOSOC in 1993 to begin a review and evaluation of relations with civil society, leading three years later to the adoption of Resolution 1996/31 as the formal, legal framework for UN-NGO relations.” (Gaddafi, p. 82)

“In 1993, partly in response to the experience of NGO participation in the Rio
Conference of 1992, a working group established by ECOSOC began a review
and evaluation of relations with NGOs and Civil Society, leading three years later to the adoption of Resolution 1996/31 as the formal, legal framework for UN-
NGO relations.” (Hill, p. 2)

“Resolution 1996/31 replaced Resolution 1296 of 1968, and advanced on it by explicitly opening up UN consultative status to national, regional and sub-regional NGOs . . . .” (Gaddafi, p. 82)

“Resolution 1996/31 replaced Resolution 1296 (XLIV) of 1968 and
advanced on it by explicitly opening up UN consultative status to national NGOs . . .” (Hill, p. 2)

“The years following the adoption of Resolution 1996/31 have seen enormous growth in numbers of NGOs (many of them national) applying for consultative status, with the number of those acquiring it growing from 744 in 1992 to 2,350 in 2003. A growing backlog of applications (over 800, as of 2003) is waiting for review by ECOSOC’s committee on NGOs. (Gaddafi, p. 82)

“Over the seven years since 1996 there has been an exponential growth of NGOs, many of them national NGOs, applying for consultative status, with the number of those acquiring it growing from 744 in 1992 to 2,350 in 2003 with, today, a growing backlog of applications waiting for review by ECOSOC’s Committee on NGOs.” (Hill, p. 2)

I also found big chunks of material from the WTO’s website explaining how the organization works dumped wholesale into Gaddafy’s Appendix 3. Gaddafi has a footnote (# 546) saying he’s drawing information from the WTO website–that doesn’t do justice to what he’s in fact done.

“The WTO is ‘member-driven’: it is run by its member governments and all major decisions are made by the membership as a whole, either by ministers (who meet at least once every two years) or by their ambassadors or delegates (who meet regularly in Geneva). . . .” (Gaddafi, p. 396)

“The WTO is run by its member governments. All major decisions are made by the membership as a whole, either by ministers (who meet at least once every two years) or by their ambassadors or delegates (who meet regularly in Geneva).” (WTO)

“Topmost is the Ministerial Conference, which is the supreme body of the WTO, composed of representatives of all members, with the authority to carry out the functions of the WTO, take the actions necessary to this effect, and take decisions on matters under any of the Multilateral Trade Agreements . . . .” (Gaddafi, p. 396)

“Topmost is the ministerial conference which has to meet at least once every two years. The Ministerial Conference can take decisions on all matters under any of the multilateral trade agreements.” (WTO)

“Six other bodies report to the General Council. Their scope is smaller, so they are merely ‘committees’, but they still consist of all WTO members. They cover issues such as trade and development, the environment, regional trading arrangements, and administrative issues.” (Gaddafi, p. 398)

“Six other bodies report to the General Council. The scope of their coverage is smaller, so they are “committees”. But they still consist of all WTO members. They cover issues such as trade and development, the environment, regional trading arrangements, and administrative issues.” (WTO)

“The Singapore Ministerial Conference in December 1996 decided to create new working groups to look at investment and competition policy, transparency in government procurement, and trade facilitation.” (Gaddafi, p. 399)

“The Singapore Ministerial Conference in December 1996 decided to create new working groups to look at investment and competition policy, transparency in government procurement, and trade facilitation.” (WTO)

“Two more subsidiary bodies dealing with the plurilateral agreements (which are not signed by all WTO members) keep the General Council informed of their activities regularly.” (Gaddafi, p. 399)

“Two more subsidiary bodies dealing with the plurilateral agreements (which are not signed by all WTO members) keep the General Council informed of their activities regularly.” (WTO)

“Each of the higher level councils has subsidiary bodies. The Goods Council has eleven committees dealing with specific subjects (market access, agriculture, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, subsidies and countervailing measures, anti-dumping measures, customs valuation, rules of origin, import licensing, trade-related investment measures, and safeguards). Again, these consist of all member countries. Also reporting to the Goods Council is the Textiles Monitoring Body, which consists of a chairman and ten members acting in their personal capacities, and groups dealing with notifications (governments informing the WTO about current and new policies or measures) and state trading enterprises.” (Gaddafi, p. 399)

“Each of the higher level councils has subsidiary bodies. The Goods Council has 11 committees dealing with specific subjects (such as agriculture, market access, subsidies, anti-dumping measures and so on). Again, these consist of all member countries. Also reporting to the Goods Council is the Textiles Monitoring Body, which consists of a chairman and 10 members acting in their personal capacities, and groups dealing with notifications (governments informing the WTO about current and new policies or measures) and state trading enterprises.” (WTO)

“The Services Council’s subsidiary bodies deal with financial services, domestic regulations, GATS rules and specific commitments.” (Gaddafi, p. 399)

“The Services Council’s subsidiary bodies deal with financial services, domestic regulations, GATS rules and specific commitments.” (WTO)

“At the General Council level, the Dispute Settlement Body also has two subsidiaries: the dispute settlement ‘panels’ of experts appointed to adjudicate on unresolved disputes, and the Appellate Body that deals with appeals.” (Gaddafi, p. 399)

“At the General Council level, the Dispute Settlement Body also has two subsidiaries: the dispute settlement “panels” of experts appointed to adjudicate on unresolved disputes, and the Appellate Body that deals with appeals.” (WTO)

“Important breakthroughs are rarely made in formal meetings of these bodies, least of all in the higher-level councils. Since decisions are made by consensus, without voting, informal consultations within the WTO play a vital role in bringing a vastly diverse membership to an agreement.” (Gaddafi, p. 400)

“Important breakthroughs are rarely made in formal meetings of these bodies, least of all in the higher level councils. Since decisions are made by consensus, without voting, informal consultations within the WTO play a vital role in bringing a vastly diverse membership round to an agreement.” (WTO)

“One step away from the formal meetings are informal meetings that still include the full membership, such as those of the Heads of Delegations (HOD). More difficult issues have to be thrashed out in smaller groups. A common recent practice is for the chairperson of a negotiating group to attempt to forge a compromise by holding consultations with delegations individually, in twos or threes, or in groups of 20-30 of the most interested delegations.” (Gaddafi, p. 400)

“One step away from the formal meetings are informal meetings that still include the full membership, such as those of the Heads of Delegations (HOD). More difficult issues have to be thrashed out in smaller groups. A common recent practice is for the chairperson of a negotiating group to attempt to forge a compromise by holding consultations with delegations individually, in twos or threes, or in groups of 20-30 of the most interested delegations.” (WTO)

“These smaller meetings have to be handled sensitively. It is necessary to ensure that everyone is kept informed about what is going on (the process must be ‘transparent’) even if they are not in a particular consultation or meeting, and that they have an opportunity to participate or provide input (the process must be ‘inclusive’).” (Gaddafi, p. 400)

“These smaller meetings have to be handled sensitively. The key is to ensure that everyone is kept informed about what is going on (the process must be “transparent”) even if they are not in a particular consultation or meeting, and that they have an opportunity to participate or provide input (it must be “inclusive”).” (WTO)

“One term has become controversial, but more among some outside observers than among delegations. The ‘Green Room’ is a phrase taken from the informal name of the director-general’s conference room. It is used to refer to meetings of 20–40 delegations, usually at the level of heads of delegations. These meetings can take place elsewhere, such as at Ministerial Conferences, and can be called by the minister chairing the conference as well as the director-general. Similar smaller-group consultations can be organised by the chairs of committees negotiating individual subjects, although the term Green Room is not usually used for these.” (Gaddafi, p. 400)

“One term has become controversial, but more among some outside observers than among delegations. The “Green Room” is a phrase taken from the informal name of the director-general’s conference room. It is used to refer to meetings of 20–40 delegations, usually at the level of heads of delegations. These meetings can take place elsewhere, such as at Ministerial Conferences, and can be called by the minister chairing the conference as well as the director-general. Similar smaller group consultations can be organized by the chairs of committees negotiating individual subjects, although the term Green Room is not usually used for these.” (WTO)

“In the past delegations have sometimes felt that Green Room meetings could lead to compromises being struck behind their backs, so extra efforts are made to ensure that the process is handled correctly, with regular reports back to the full membership.” (Gaddafi, p. 401)

“In the past delegations have sometimes felt that Green Room meetings could lead to compromises being struck behind their backs. So, extra efforts are made to ensure that the process is handled correctly, with regular reports back to the full membership.” (WTO)

“The way countries now negotiate has helped somewhat. In order to increase their bargaining power, countries have formed coalitions. In some subjects such as agriculture virtually all countries are members of at least one coalition—and in many cases, several coalitions. This means that all countries can be represented in the process if the coordinators and other key players are present. The coordinators also take responsibility for both ‘transparency’ and ‘inclusiveness’ by keeping their coalitions informed and by taking the positions negotiated within their alliances.” (Gaddafi, p. 401)

“The way countries now negotiate has helped somewhat. In order to increase their bargaining power, countries have formed coalitions. In some subjects such as agriculture virtually all countries are members of at least one coalition — and in many cases, several coalitions. This means that all countries can be represented in the process if the coordinators and other key players are present. The coordinators also take responsibility for both “transparency” and “inclusiveness” by keeping their coalitions informed and by taking the positions negotiated within their alliances.” (WTO)

“In the end, decisions have to be taken by all members and by consensus. The membership as a whole would resist attempts to impose the will of a small group. No one has been able to find an alternative way of achieving consensus on difficult issues, because it is virtually impossible for members to change their positions voluntarily in meetings of the full membership.” (Gaddafi, p. 401)

“In the end, decisions have to be taken by all members and by consensus. The membership as a whole would resist attempts to impose the will of a small group. No one has been able to find an alternative way of achieving consensus on difficult issues, because it is virtually impossible for members to change their positions voluntarily in meetings of the full membership.” (WTO)

“Market access negotiations also involve small groups, but for a completely different reason. The final outcome is a multilateral package of individual countries’ commitments, but those commitments are the result of numerous bilateral, informal bargaining sessions, which depend on individual countries’ interests. (Examples include the traditional tariff negotiations, and market access talks in services.)” (Gaddafi, p. 401)

“Market access negotiations also involve small groups, but for a completely different reason. The final outcome is a multilateral package of individual countries’ commitments, but those commitments are the result of numerous bilateral, informal bargaining sessions, which depend on individual countries’ interests. (Examples include the traditional tariff negotiations, and market access talks in services.)” (WTO)

“Thus, informal consultations in various forms play a vital role in allowing consensus to be reached, but they do not appear in organisation charts, precisely because they are informal.” (Gaddafi, p. 401)

“So, informal consultations in various forms play a vital role in allowing consensus to be reached, but they do not appear in organization charts, precisely because they are informal.” (WTO)

“They are not separate from the formal meetings, however. They are necessary for making formal decisions in the councils and committees. Nor are the formal meetings unimportant. They are the forums for exchanging views, putting countries’ positions on the record, and ultimately for confirming decisions. The art of achieving agreement among all WTO members is to strike an appropriate balance, so that a breakthrough achieved among only a few countries can be acceptable to the rest of the membership.” (Gaddafi, p. 402)

“They are not separate from the formal meetings, however. They are necessary for making formal decisions in the councils and committees. Nor are the formal meetings unimportant. They are the forums for exchanging views, putting countries’ positions on the record, and ultimately for confirming decisions. The art of achieving agreement among all WTO members is to strike an appropriate balance, so that a breakthrough achieved among only a few countries can be acceptable to the rest of the membership.” (WTO)

11 responses so far

Next »