NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL OFFICE OF INVESTIGATIONS. CLOSEOUT MEMORANDUM Case Number: A03060031 11 Page 1 of 2 We were asked to reconsider a closed case1 containing allegations of plagiarism and intellectual property theft. The two documents alleged to contain the copied material and misappropriatedideas were an unpublished manuscript submitted to a peer-review journal: and a published conference proceedings paper. We compared the subject's3 two texts with several published alleged source texts provided to us.4 The examination of the documents revealed no instances of direct or substantially similar copying to substantiate the allegation of plagiarism. While seemingly distinctive words were found in both subject and source texts, we found few synonyms in the thesaurus that retained the same meaning in the relevant context. Figures illustrated concepts common to both the source and subject documents. The similarities between these figures were insufficient to support an allegation of plagiarism. With regard to the allegation of intellectual thefi, we do find similarity between the subject's and source's work especially with regard to the conclusions and rationale. However, we find that the subject's experimental method and supporting data are sufficiently distinct from that reported in the source documents. Both subject and source are working in the same developing field of research. It is to be expected that similar conclusions and rationale would develop and could be valuable as - confirmation of new concepts. A review ofsubject's awarded NSF proposal5indicates that the research presented is consistent with the work proposed. The program was aware of the potential overlap between the subject's work and the source documents' authors' work when making the award.6 The decision to fund the proposal in light of this information rests with the program office. At this time we find no reason to question this programmatic decision. We did note that the subject's use of citations throughout the manuscript, proceedings paper, and proposal was marginally adequate. Citations in the text were appropriate where used in that they supported the proffered statements. However, the subject made frequent generalized statements7 without supporting citation in the text. The reference lists in each respective document appeared to able, this manuscript is still unpublished at this time. Specifically, the program office had the benefit of citations to some of the source material provided to our office as well as comments £tom the review panel. 'For example statements that contained "It is well-known that.. ." or statements that provided historical perspectives. OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL OFFICE OF INVESTIGATIONS CLOSEOUT MEMORANDUM support the text as a whole, although citations embedded in the text were not as thorough as most scholarlyjournals would require. At this time, we believe that the proposal and journal peer-review systems are adequately addressing the subject's de minimis approach to citation. We have written the subject to advise that poor citation may lead to hture allegations of research misconduct. Accordingly, this case is closed. '
Intellectual Theft Plagiarism (Verbatim)
Published by the National Science Foundation, Office of Inspector General on 2003-11-17.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)