Sunday, April 01, 2007

More on Cordova matter and further thoughts on giving accurate credit

Further to an earlier post on the Cordova matter, IPBiz notes some text from an article in the March 12, 2007 issue of C&E News entitled "Giving Proper Credit."

At page 35, the article refers to Cordova's "unethical behavior--often a failure to cite or cite properly the work of other scientists and thereby taking credit for new discoveries that are not his own."

IPBiz finds an irony in the discomfort, among academics, for Cordova's behavior when there is support, among different academics, for a plagiarize with pride/take it and make it your own philosophy, as expressed in the pages of the Harvard Business Journal.

Also on page 35, one has "They say Cordova steals research ideas and then presents the ideas as his own by publishing the results of hasty and often poorly executed parallel experiments."

Stockholm University has defended its (relatively mild) sanctions against Cordova on the basis that his transgressions "do not include scientific fraud." Also, "This is not the worst ethical behavior reported in science." Cordova himself says he was following the practices of his former advisors and mentors in science, a defense eerily reminiscent of Judge Posner's defense of plagiarism among lawyers.

Cordova noted "People want to be first," a sentiment that exists not only in the science business but also the patent business.

The C&E News article at page 36 mentions "several high-profile scandals in recent years," but does not identify them. Further, it makes no mention of the ACS Task Force on Ethics, of which LBE was a member. C&E News quoted one researcher as saying the field of organocatalysis "is full of piranhas."

During LBE's tenure on the Task Force on Ethics, LBE worked to allow "third party" comments on articles in JACS, a practice which remains disallowed. The Cordova case illustrates the efforts third parties have to make to correct problems in the literature.

Of a different matter, Sterner and Frejd noted Cordova must put more effort into properly describing and referencing work that was published prior to his own. [page 38] One thinks of the way in which Lemley and Moore [in Ending Abuse] described the prior work of Robert Clarke. At least, they got Clarke's first name right, unlike Jaffe and Lerner, who refernced George Clarke.

C&E News concluded that the Cordova case backs up the contention of Janet Stemwedel that the scientific community mostly does not know how to deal with ethics violations.

On April 1, 2007, "60 Minutes" had a discussion of the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill that one probably won't find in C&E News. There were interviews with Dan Burton, Walter Jones, and Billy Touzain (with Touzain a beneficiary of the drug Avastin). There were allegations that a revised projection of cost (from 395 billion to 534 billion) was withheld prior to the (220-215) vote. Reminds one of the discussion of patent royalties PRIOR to the vote on Proposition 71.

"60 Minutes" also discussed familial DNA searching and even pictured a page from the journal Science "Finding Criminals through DNA of their Relatives." The murder case of Deborah Sykes, and the exoneration, through a successful familial DNA search, of Darryl Hunt were mentioned.


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