Tuesday, April 13, 2010

American academic crooks get away with it

More evidence of the decay of academic standards. The Left destroy anything they touch

The paper trail of plagiarism turned up in a university faculty member's Ph.D. dissertation, then in a job application and, eventually, in a proposal for taxpayer-funded research sent to the National Science Foundation.

Yet like several other researchers caught stealing information on government-funded foundation projects or proposals, the faculty member managed to avoid the embarrassment of public exposure.

The National Science Foundation's (NSF) office of inspector general, which closed the case last year, is withholding the researcher's name from public scrutiny, citing privacy interests.

In another recent case, a researcher plagiarized in at least three funding proposals and, once caught, claimed as an excuse the fact that "his non-native command of English made paraphrasing difficult," case records show. His name, too, remains private.

Unlike the Office of Research Integrity (ORI), another federal agency that investigates scientific misconduct, the NSF inspector general withholds many of the identities of the researchers it catches engaging in misconduct, according to records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

The policy reflects a stark but little-known difference in the scientific community and in the federal government on the question of whether, and when, to name names in the wake of misconduct investigations.

"My position is that these are public agencies and public funding is involved, so there should be disclosure," said Mark S. Frankel, director of the Scientific Freedom, Responsibility and Law Program at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

He said researchers found to have committed misconduct could do so again if the misdeeds go unnoticed by future employers. In their new jobs, these same researchers someday could be placed in positions of trust, such as supervising the work of graduate students, he said.

But others say the disparity between the two agencies' policies might be a reflection of the sorts of cases they typically investigate. The NSF inspector general often uncovers plagiarism, while many of the ORI integrity cases involve fabrication or falsification of data, analysts say.

"It may have to do with the types of findings," said Debra Parrish, a lawyer who has published scholarly articles on research misconduct. "Most NSF findings are premised on plagiarism. … [P]erhaps plagiarism, although not desirable, is not as worthy of public hanging."

More here

How Eton inspired British Conservatives' 'national service' plan

A plan with good precedents

David Cameron spoke of his own community service at Eton College as he launched plans for a National Citizenship Service for young people. The Tory leader told how he volunteered to visit elderly and vulnerable people, as well as joining the school’s cadet force.

Community service has long been seen as a key element of life at independent schools – particularly boarding schools – as a life-enhancing supplement to the rigours of academic study.

At Eton, the school’s social service programme forms part of the extra-curricular timetable for most sixth-formers. Each boy at the £29,000-a-year school in Windsor is expected to take part in voluntary activities up to twice a week.

This includes reading and playing sport with children at state primary schools, visiting the elderly at home, helping at day centres, working in charity shops and taking food and clothing to homeless people in Slough. Some boys have also tended to the grave of a soldier from Eton Wick killed during the Second World War.

Other independent schools expect pupils to take part in similar programmes – usually for one afternoon every week.

At Wellington College, Berkshire, community service projects - a 150-year-old school tradition - include volunteering at a local centre for the mentally handicapped, tutoring students at local schools and reading to the elderly. Students also traditionally volunteer with the National Trust and the college’s own estate team.

The Combined Cadet Force (CCF) is also a hugely prominent part of life in independent schools. There are currently around 200 cadet force units in the private sector, compared with just 50 in state schools.

Asked at a news conference whether he had done voluntary service, Mr Cameron said: "Yes, I did. At the school I went to there was a choice: you could either join the cadet force or you could do social services.

"Being a community-spirited sort of person I decided to do both. "I was in the cadet force and I also did visits to elderly, vulnerable people in Windsor, visiting them in their homes and doing their shopping and things like that, which I hugely enjoyed."


Australia: How to hijack a child’s education

Teachers abhor evaluation of their work

The union inspired threat by state school teachers to boycott next month’s literacy and numeracy tests for Queensland children ought to be seen for what it is, wildcat industrial action aimed at sabotaging a policy for which the Rudd Government gained a mandate at the last election.

Queensland Teacher Union president Steve Ryan’s performance on radio this morning justifying this boycott was an example of the sophistry and arrogance that afflicts union officials who believe schools are there for the benefit of teachers rather than for students and their parents.

According to Ryan, the NAPLAN tests “only’’ measure literacy and numeracy, not the whole child. Good to see that the union sees the ability to read, write and count is such a minor part of a child’s school education.

And while this boycott might seem a lot like industrial action to the rest of us, it is nothing of the sort, according to Ryan. It is a “moratorium’’ on supervising the tests.

This action is all about the union’s distaste for a nationally consistent measure of school performance. It has precious little to do with the welfare of Queensland children. It’s unlikely that the union will be able to get away with such nonsense for long, but it would help put a quick end to this ridiculousness if the Bligh Government gained some backbone and opposed this union’s constant efforts to hijack a policy that has the legitimate political endorsement of the Australian electorate.


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