Archive for the 'Academic integrity' category

Does the University of North Carolina have any grasp of institutional ethics? (With a bonus thought-experiment.)

And here, the follow-up question to the one posed in the title of this post: Does UNC - Chapel Hill get that "institutional ethics" involves more than protecting the interests of the institution at the expense of people like its students?

Because this story makes me wonder. In brief:

  • UNC student Landen Gambill reported that she was sexually assaulted by another UNC student.
  • At the time she reported the assault, the UNC mechanism for dealing with such reports was through the student-run Honor Court.
  • About month after the Honor Court heard Gambill's case, the UNC Honor Court was stripped of its ability to hear sexual assault allegations because the way it had been dealing with such allegations was probably not in compliance with Title IX
  • The Honor Court ruled that Gambill's sexual assault allegations lacked sufficient evidence to impose punishment on the other student she alleged had assaulted her.
  • Gambill and 64 others (including a former UNC Dean of Students) filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, alleging that the way reports of sexual assaults, and students making those reports, are treated at UNC results in illegal underreporting.*
  • Now, Landen Gambill is herself being charged by the student-run UNC Honor Court with violation of the Honor Code because, apparently, her participation in filing the complaint against UNC amounts to “Disruptive or intimidating behavior that willfully abuses, disparages, or otherwise interferes with another…. so as to adversely affect their academic pursuits, opportunities for university employment, participation in university-sponsored extracurricular activities, or opportunities to benefit from other aspects of University Life.”
  • It is worth noting that Gambill has made no public identification of the UNC student she alleges assaulted her.
  • UNC spokespeople deny that the Honor Court charge against Gambill is retaliatory -- and also deny that there is much the UNC admiinistration can do to keep the Honor Court from continuing on a course that looks very much like charging a student for reporting a sexual assault. From Inside Higher Ed:

    [A] UNC spokesperson said the university may not “encourage or prevent” the Honor Court’s top officials, the student attorneys general, from filing charges in any case. Given that, “a claim of retaliation by the university would be without merit,” Karen Moon, director of UNC News Services, said in an email. The court may consult with a faculty advisory committee on difficult cases, but Moon said she could not comment on whether they had. While there is a process for administrators to hear and overturn cases, Moon said, it must be initiated by the student attorneys general.

    So, it's the students who are mounting this action, and the university officials must stand helplessly by and hope it all turns out all right, I guess?

Let's take this case as an opportunity for a thought-experiment.

Imagine you're an administrator at a university. You want to maintain the university's reputation, so students will still apply for admission and faculty will still want to work there. You want to keep the university in compliance with relevant laws and regulations so, for example, you don't get cut out of federal funding of various sorts. You want to find sensible ways to create a campus environment where students can learn and be safe, and where students are active participants in upholding shared standards of conduct (which cover not only standards of scholarly conduct but reasonable ways to treat others within the campus community).

What are your first three ideas for productive steps forward from a mess like this? (Bonus points if these ideas seem likely to succeed.) And, how to you get buy-in from the relevant segments of the university community to actually take these steps?

Alternatively, consider the same situation from the point of view of a student and propose your first three ideas for productive steps forward.
*The relevant laws the complaint alleges that UNC is violating by underreporting its campus sexual assault are the Campus Sexual Assault Victims' Bill of Rights, the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

3 responses so far

Please don't beg me for mercy (a professorial rant).

I'm starting to twig to the fact that a small but significant portion of my students has no idea whatsoever as to what my motivations might be for going into the line of work I have gone into (i.e., being a philosophy professor at a teaching-focused public university). And indeed, it's possible that my own motivations may not be totally transparent even to myself. (Life is, after all, full of mystery.)

But, I can state for the record, with absolute certainty, that I did not go into the professorial biz so that people could beg me for mercy.

Seriously, I didn't.

I recognize that people learn differently. I understand that some people are good at mastering material before a midterm, while others only really understand the material after they've flubbed it on the midterm. You know what? As long as they can demonstrate that you understand it by the final, I'm happy (which is why I give positive weight to improvement when I assign final grades). If we could engage in this teaching-and-learning transaction without grades, it would make me happier than you can imagine -- even if it meant that I had to write evaluative letters for 150 students each semester. I know that the grading pen can make me appear permanently judgmental, but the judgments I make are focused on how well my students demonstrate their understanding of the material (including how well they can identify and explain what it is they don't quite get yet, since this seems to be an important stop on the way to getting it).

I do not look at my students and see their midterm scores. Neither do I believe that one's grades in my class are a reliable proxy for who's a good person.

That said, since grades are part of the landscape, there are some basic expectations about academic integrity in play.

One is that students do their own thinking and writing. Connected to that is the expectation that if they draw on the words or ideas of others, they will properly cite the source of those words and/or ideas. Moreover, if they enter into an explicit agreement that they will only use certain sources for particular assignments, I expect them to abide by that agreement -- because I think it's fair to take adults (including the adults who are my students) at their word.

And, when I discover students violating basic rules of academic integrity (and especially when they violate explicit agreements about what is in-bounds and what is out-of-bounds), they receive an F for the course and a referral to the Office of Student Conduct and Ethical Development. This is exactly the outcome promised in my syllabus, and in the explicit agreements I secure from my students about ground rules. My students should be able to take me at my word, too.

Hypothetically, if you're caught transgressing the rules and if I deliver precisely the consequence promised for that kind of transgression, pestering me to not deliver on the promise is not a good call.

Would it be just for me to make an exception to the rule just for you when your classmates have, variously, made the decision (possibly influenced in part by the promises embodied in my academic integrity policy) to live within the rules, or have been caught transgressing the rules and delivered the promised consequences? (Especially in the context of an ethics class, I expect you to have given a question like this serious thought.)

In the case that I were to give in to your demands that I treat your cheating as something other than cheating, what kind of obligations do you suppose it would place on me with regards to other students caught doing the same thing, now or in the future? What kind of obligations do you suppose it would place on me with regard to students who do not cheat? How would you suggest I update the language in my syllabus to reflect the kind of action you would like me to take on your behalf?

I expect you to be familiar with university policies on plagiarism, cheating, and other forms of academic dishonesty, but if you run afoul of the rules and complain enough, we'll pretend it never happened. Plagiarism or cheating will result in a failing grade in this course, and offenders may be subject to further administrative sanctions, but if you're caught and you make a huge deal about what a bad outcome this will be for you, I will totally ignore the requirement that I report all infractions to the Office of Student Conduct and Ethical Development.

I don't see that happening.

I guess my hypothetical cheater-who-doesn't-want-to-accept-the-consequences has already shown significant disrespect for our teaching-and-learning transaction by opting to cheat (rather than, say, opting to do the assignments according to the rules and learning something by so doing), and significant disrespect for my intelligence (in assuming that I am unable to detect blatant cheating when it's right in front of me).

But I'm also really bothered by the premise that I have the life and death power over the hypothetical cheater, to be cruel and crush a young life or to be merciful and let the hypothetical cheater go on to do many good things. That seems to disrespect the student's role in our teaching-and-learning transaction. I have the power to explain expectations clearly. I don't have the power to keep students from making bad calls, nor to go back in time and undo bad decisions for them. I don't want that kind of power.

The power I'm interested in is power to communicate ideas clearly, to give students feedback that helps them develop their competencies in reading and writing and thinking and argumentation, to convey to students what's interesting or important about the issues and ideas we discuss. This is a kind of power that can change lives (for the better, I hope), but whose exercise lets me interact with my students as autonomous adults rather than as petitioners begging to be excused from the consequences their own choices have wrought.

16 responses so far

Your consequentialist argument for cheating doesn't make what you did not-cheating.

I'm willing to accept that not every instance of cheating is necessarily clear cut -- that there may be some iffy choices that have not been explicitly identified as out-of-bounds.

However, I keep running into a situation that is quite different, where an explicit rule has clearly been broken* and yet, the person who has been caught breaking it tries to persuade me not to impose the promised penalty for breaking this rule** because the imposition of that penalty will lead to other bad consequences for the person who broke the rule that this person really, really doesn't want to deal with.

And look, I understand not wanting to live with the bad consequences of a choice. But the very fact that X will bring additional bad consequences for you does not mean that X was not cheating.

Those additional bad consequences from being caught cheating should maybe have been reason enough to try to achieve your desired ends without violating the agreed upon rules. Gambling on achieving those ends by cheating only works if you get away with the cheating. When you don't, articulating all the reasons that being caught cheating is going to mess you up does not make what you did something other than cheating.

* For example, "Here are the resources you may consult to complete this assignment and all other resources are forbidden," or "You must properly cite the resources you used in completing this assignment." In practices, violations of the first rule here are always accompanied by violations of the second (since otherwise, you'd be acknowledging that you used a source you were not allowed to use).

** For example, if you violated the agreed upon rules, you fail the course. (Here, the students must explicitly affirm that they understand the rules and will abide by them at the beginning of the course.)

3 responses so far

Questions worth asking yourself if you're thinking of cheating.

This should not be taken as an exhaustive list by any means.

  1. Has your instructor warned you that course policy rewards cheating and plagiarism with a failing grade for the course, and with the filing of academic integrity violation reporting forms with the relevant administrative offices? If so, cheating might be kind of risky.
  2. Have you been asked to indicate your explicit agreement to a statement that particular sources of information and help are not allowed for this assignment? If so, consulting one of those sources for information and help is not allowed (i.e., it will probably be viewed as cheating), and the instructor who secured your agreement to the ground rules may well pursue sanctions against you if you do it.
  3. Is the assignment on which you're considering cheating one of the requirements for an ethics course? If so, being caught cheating is likely to demonstrate something like a lack of comprehension of the course content. This may well undercut any plea for leniency you're inclined to make.
  4. Are you betting that the instructor evaluating your work will not detect the cheating? If so, you might want to entertain the possibility that he or she can distinguish typical student work from a Googled source, and that past instances of cheating on his or her watch have sharpened his or her discernment. You might also recall that professorial types generally have strong research skills and experience with search engines like Google.
  5. Do you need to pass the particular course in which you are considering cheating in order to graduate in your major? If so, there might be a principled reason that the people training you in your major subject think you should learn the content of this course -- and cheating (rather than actually mastering that content) might put you at a disadvantage in your future education or employment at that kind of major. Also, if you're caught cheating, it may delay your ability to graduate in your chosen major.
  6. Is there only one faculty member who teaches this course-required-for-your-major in which you are considering cheating? That means if you are caught cheating and you want to graduate in this major, you will have to take this course again with this same instructor who already failed you once for cheating. Is that possibility really less uncomfortable than buckling down and doing your own damn work in the first place?

I mean, seriously. Maybe it's time to "update your priors" or something, kids.

6 responses so far

First dispatch of the semester from the Cave of Grading.

Today, a brief video dispatch from the Cave of Grading.

First Plagiarism of Fall

I would have typed something, but I was afraid it would end up being a pastiche of frequently used paper comments, and that would just be confusing.

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When applicants for medical residencies plagiarize.

Long-time readers of this blog will know that plagiarism is a topic that comes up with some regularity, sometimes fueled by "kids today!" stories from the mainstream media, and sometimes due to actual research on plagiarism in different educational and professional spheres.

Today, let's have a look of a report of one such investigation, "Plagiarism in Residency Application Essays," published July 20, 2010 in Annals of Internal Medicine. The investigators looked at the personal statements applicants wrote (or, in some cases, "wrote") as part of their application to residency programs at Brigham and Women's hospital. As they describe their study:

The primary goals of this investigation were to estimate the prevalence of plagiarism in applicants’ personal statements at our institution and to determine the association of plagiarism with demographic, educational, and experience related characteristics of the applicants. (112)

The people applying to residency programs have already successfully completed medical school. The residency is an additional part of their training to help them prepare to practice a particular medical specialty. And, the personal statement is a standard part of what's involved in applying for a residency:

All applicants to U.S. residency programs must complete an original essay known as the “personal statement.” The format is free-form, the content is not specified, and expectations may vary by specialty. Common themes include the motivation for seeking training in a chosen specialty, the factors that affect suitability for a field or program, a critical incident that affected the applicant’s career choice, and circumstances that distinguish the applicant from others. (112)

There are some fairly commonsense reasons to expect that these personal statements ought to be original work, written by the applicant rather than copied from some other source. After all, the personal essay represents the applicant to the residency program, not as a transcript or a set of test scores but as a person. The essay gives insight into why the applicant is interested in a particular medical specialty, what training experiences and life experiences might bear on his or her motivation or likelihood of success, what kind of personal qualities he or she will bring to the table.

Also, since plagiarism is explicitly forbidden, these essays may give insight into the applicant's personal and academic integrity, or at least into his or her grasp of rudimentary rules of scholarship:

The ERAS [Electronic Residency Application Service] also warns applicants that “any substantiated findings of plagiarism may result in reporting of such findings to the programs to which [they] apply now and in the future”. Applicants must certify that work is accurate and original before an ERAS application is complete. (112)

In the study, the investigators performed an analysis of the personal statements in residency program applications to Brigham and Women's Hospital over an interval of about 18 months. They analyzed 4975 essays using software that compared them with a database that included previously submitted essays, published works, and Internet pages.

For the purposes of the study, the researchers defined evidence of plagiarism as a match of more than 10% of an essay to an existing work. Since the software was flagging matching strings of words between the essays and the sources in the database, this methodology may well have missed instances of plagiarism where the plagiarist changed a word here or there.

It's also worth noting that the authors point, in the Discussion section of the paper, to the following definition of plagiarism:

Plagiarism may be defined as “the action or practice of taking someone else’s work, idea, etc., and passing it off as one’s own; literary theft”. (114)

This definition seems (at least to my eye) to make intent an element of the crime. As we've discussed before, this requirement is by no means a standard part of the definition of plagiarism.

What did this research find? In the 4975 essays analyzed, they detected evidence of plagiarism (i.e., a match of more than 10%) in 5.2% of the essays, for an incidence of a little more than one plagiarized paper in 20. Rather than relying solely on the software analysis, the researchers examined the essays the software flagged for plagiarism to rule out false positives. (They found none.)

I'm not sure whether this frequency of plagiarism is unusually high (or unusually low). However, for a personal statement, I reckon this is higher than it should be. Again, what better source could there be for your personal statement than yourself? Still, we might want some data on the frequency of plagiarism in personal statements for other sorts of things to get a better sense of whether the results of this study indicate a special problem with people applying for medical residencies, or whether they reflect a basic human frailty of which people applying for medical residencies also partake.

The authors also report demographic trends that emerged in their results. They found a higher incidence of plagiarism among the applicants who were:

  • international (which included non-U.S. citizens and those who had attended medical school outside the U.S.)
  • older
  • fluent in languages other than English
  • applying for a residency with previous residency training under their belts

They found a lower incidence of plagiarism among the applicants who:

  • were members of Alpha Omega Alpha (a medical honor society)
  • had research experience
  • had volunteer experience
  • had higher scores on the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam Step 1

The authors offer no hypotheses about causal mechanisms that might account for these correlations, and it seems likely that more research is required to tease out the factors that might contribute to these demographic differences, not to mention strategies that might address them. (I'm guessing that the applicants with research experience and/or volunteer experience had an easier time finding stuff to write about in their personal essays.)

One might reasonably ask whether plagiarism in these personal essays is a problem that ought to worry those training the next generation of physicians. The authors of this study argue that it is. They write:

First, residency selection committees would probably find misrepresentation on the application to be a strong negative indicator of future performance as a resident. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education has deemed professionalism 1 of the 6 core competencies to be taught and assessed in undergraduate and graduate medical education. We believe that program directors would find a breach of professionalism in an application to be an unacceptable baseline from which to begin residency. Second, lapses in professionalism in medical school and residency training can be predictive of future disciplinary action by state medical boards. Third, increasing public scrutiny of physicians’ ethical behavior is likely to put pressure on training programs to enforce strict rules of conduct, beginning with the application process. (114-115)

The presumption is that honesty is a quality that physicians (and those training to be physicians) ought to display -- that there is something wrong with lying not only to the patients you are treating but also to other members of your professional community. Indeed, the "professionalism" to which the authors refer is important in large part because it allows member of the larger public to recognize the professional community of physicians as possessing the necessary skills, judgment, and trustworthiness. Without this recognition, why should your average patient trust an M.D. any more than a snake-oil salesman?

In this study, as in all studies with human subjects, the researchers were required to look out for the interests of their human subjects -- here, the applicants to the residency programs who wrote the personal essays that were analyzed. Protecting their interests included maintaining the anonymity of the authors of the essays in the context of the study. This, in turn, means that it's possible that the plagiarism identified in the study may not have been identified by the residency selection committees who were also reading these essays.

Finally, near the end of the paper, the authors offer recommendations for how to address the general problem of plagiarism in applications for residency programs:

Ideally, the submission of applicant essays for comparison in a centralized database would occur at the level of ERAS, which would make this process unavoidable for applicants.This method also would eliminate the difficulties inherent in having multiple institutions using plagiarism detection software programs simultaneously, because submitted essays become part of the database for future submissions. Furthermore, manual inspection of the similarity report itself rather than simply reporting the score would allow individual program directors to make independent judgments about the seriousness of any putative offense. Finally, the mere knowledge that essays are being screened by plagiarism-detection software may substantially deter would-be plagiarizers. (119)

These recommendations are clearly leaning toward detecting plagiarism that has been committed, rather than being weighted towards prevention efforts. As they note, and as other researchers have found, an expectation that there will be a plagiarism screening may discourage applicants from committing plagiarism, but it's possible that prevention efforts that depend on fear of detection may just end up separating the risk averse applicants from the gamblers.

Segal S, Gelfand BJ, Hurwitz S, Berkowitz L, Ashley SW, Nadel ES, & Katz JT (2010). Plagiarism in residency application essays. Annals of internal medicine, 153 (2), 112-20 PMID: 20643991

8 responses so far

College kids and their plagiarism (or college professors and their quaint insistence on proper citation of sources).

Today, The New York Times has an article about students and plagiarism that I could have sworn I've read at least a dozen times before, at least in its general gist.

As an exercise, before you click through to read the article, grab some paper and a pencil and jot down two or three reasons you think will be offered that the current generation of college students does not grasp the wrongness of using the words and ideas of others without attribution.

Is your list ready?
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31 responses so far

In search of accepted practices: the final report on the investigation of Michael Mann (part 3).

Here we continue our examination of the final report (PDF) of the Investigatory Committee at Penn State University charged with investigating an allegation of scientific misconduct against Dr. Michael E. Mann made in the wake of the ClimateGate media storm. The specific question before the Investigatory Committee was:

"Did Dr. Michael Mann engage in, or participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions that seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research or other scholarly activities?"

In the last two posts, we considered the committee's interviews with Dr. Mann and with Dr. William Easterling, the Dean of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences at Penn State, and with three climate scientists from other institutions, none of whom had collaborated with Dr. Mann. In this post, we turn to the other sources of information to which the Investigatory Committee turned in its efforts to establish what counts as accepted practices within the academic community (and specifically within the community of climate scientists) for proposing, conducting, or reporting research.

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In search of accepted practices: the final report on the investigation of Michael Mann (part 2).

When you're investigating charges that a scientist has seriously deviated from accepted practices for proposing, conducting, or reporting research, how do you establish what the accepted practices are? In the wake of ClimateGate, this was the task facing the Investigatory Committee at Penn State University investigating the allegation (which the earlier Inquiry Committee deemed worthy of an investigation) that Dr. Michael E. Mann "engage[d] in, or participate[d] in, directly or indirectly, ... actions that seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research or other scholarly activities".
One strategy you might pursue is asking the members of a relevant scientific or academic community what practices they accept. In the last post, we looked at what the Investigatory Committee learned from its interviews about this question with Dr. Mann himself and with Dr. William Easterling, Dean, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University. In this post, we turn to the committee's interviews with three climate scientists from other institutions, none of whom had collaborated with Dr. Mann, and at least one of whom has been very vocal about his disagreements with Dr. Mann's scientific conclusions.

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In search of accepted practices: the final report on the investigation of Michael Mann (part 1).

Way back in early February, we discussed the findings of the misconduct inquiry against Michael Mann, an inquiry that Penn State University mounted in the wake of "numerous communications (emails, phone calls, and letters) accusing Dr. Michael E. Mann of having engaged in acts that included manipulating data, destroying records and colluding to hamper the progress of scientific discourse around the issue of global warming from approximately 1998". Those numerous communications, of course, followed upon the well-publicized release of purloined email messages from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) webserver at the University of East Anglia -- the storm of controversy known as ClimateGate.
You may recall that the misconduct inquiry, whose report (PDF) is here, looked into four allegations against Dr. Mann and found no credible evidence to support three of them. On the fourth allegation, the inquiry committee was unable to make a definitive finding. Here's what I wrote about the inquiry committee's report on this allegation:

[T]he inquiry committee is pointing out that researchers at the university has a duty not to commit fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism, but also a positive duty to behave in such a way that they maintain the public's trust. The inquiry committee goes on to highlight specific sections of policy AD-47 that speak to cultivating intellectual honesty, being scrupulous in presentation of one's data (and careful not to read those data as being more robust than they really are), showing due respect for their colleagues in the community of scholars even when they disagree with their findings or judgments, and being clear in their communications with the public about when they are speaking in their capacity as researchers and when they are speaking as private citizens. ...
[W]e're not just looking at scientific conduct here. Rather, we're looking at scientific conduct in an area about which the public cares a lot.
What this means is that the public here is paying rather more attention to how climate scientists are interacting with each other, and to the question of whether these interactions are compatible with the objective, knowledge-building project science is supposed to be.
[T]he purloined emails introduce new data relevant to the question of whether Dr. Mann's research activities and interactions with other scientists -- both those with whose conclusions he agrees and those with whose conclusions he does not agree -- are consistent with or deviate from accepted scientific practices.
Evaluating the data gleaned from the emails, in turns, raises the question of what the community of scholars and the community of research scientists agree counts as accepted scientific practices.

Decision 4. Given that information emerged in the form of the emails purloined from CRU in November 2009, which have raised questions in the public's mind about Dr. Mann's conduct of his research activity, given that this may be undermining confidence in his findings as a scientist, and given that it may be undermining public trust in science in general and climate science specifically, the inquiry committee believes an investigatory committee of faculty peers from diverse fields should be constituted under RA-10 to further consider this allegation.

In sum, the overriding sentiment of this committee, which is composed of University administrators, is that allegation #4 revolves around the question of accepted faculty conduct surrounding scientific discourse and thus merits a review by a committee of faculty scientists. Only with such a review will the academic community and other interested parties likely feel that Penn State has discharged it responsibility on this matter.

What this means is that the investigation of allegation #4 that will follow upon this inquiry will necessarily take up the broad issue of what counts as accepted scientific practices. This discussion, and the findings of the investigation committee that may flow from it, may have far reaching consequences for how the public understands what good scientific work looks like, and for how scientists themselves understand what good scientific work looks like.

Accordingly, an Investigatory Committee was constituted and charged to examine that fourth allegation, and its report (PDF) has just been released. We're going to have a look at what the Investigatory Committee found, and at its strategies for getting the relevant facts here.
Since this report is 19 pages long (the report of the inquiry committee was just 10), I won't be discussing all the minutiae of how the committee was constituted, nor will I be discussing this report's five page recap of the earlier committee's report (since I've already discussed that report at some length). Instead, I'll be focusing on this committee's charge:

The Investigatory Committee's charge is to determine whether or not Dr. Michael Mann engaged in, or participated in, directly or indirectly, any actions that seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research or other scholarly activities.

and on the particular strategies the Investigatory Committee used to make this determination.
Indeed, establishing what might count as a serious deviation from accepted practices within the academic community is not trivially easy (which is one reason people have argued against appending the "serious deviations" clause to fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism in official definitions of scientific misconduct). Much turns on the word "accepted" here. Are we talking about the practices a scientific or academic community accepts as what members of the community ought to do, or about practices that are "accepted" insofar as members of the community actually do them or are aware of others doing them (and don't do a whole lot to stop them)? The Investigatory Committee here seems to be trying to establish what the relevant scientific community accepts as good practices, but there are a few places in the report where the evidence upon which they rely may merely establish the practices the community tolerates. There is a related question about whether the practices the community accepts as good can be counted on reliably to produce the good outcomes the community seems to assume they do, something I imagine people will want to discuss in the comments.
Let's dig in. Because of how much there is to discuss, we'll take it in three posts. This post will focus on the committee's interviews with Dr. Mann and with Dr. William Easterling, Dean, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University (and Mann's boss, to the degree that the Dean of one's College is one's boss).
The second post will examine the committee's interviews with Dr. William Curry, Senior Scientist, Geology and Geophysics Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Dr. Jerry McManus, Professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia University; and Dr. Richard Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor, Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The third post will then examine the other sources of information besides the interviews that the Investigatory Committee relied upon to establish what counts as accepted practices within the academic community (and specifically within the community of climate scientists) for proposing, conducting, or reporting research. All blockquotes from here on out are from the Investigatory Committee's final report unless otherwise noted.

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