Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Gunasekera/Ohio University settle

IPBiz has been covering the Gunasekera matter for some time. The federal case settled on Monday, March 7, 2011. Of some note is the observation that the lawyer fees [ $118,238 ] exceeded the amount Gunasekera received [$32,501 [. Ohio U. had to pay the professor's legal fees, but in how many industries would one spend $3.64 for every dollar recovered?

See previous IPBiz posts:

From Sept. 2006:
Flipping Filippo, Batman, Gunasekera files federal suit against Ohio U./officials

Gunasekera smokes Ohio University at CA6 on due process claim
[The Ohio University folks would have been well-advised to study the case of San Filippo and Rutgers University. But they apparently didn't. ]

Ohio U plagiarism mess taking a nasty turn

Other coverage of the settlement:

ENCARNACION PYLE wrote in the Columbus Dispatch:

The 6th District Court of Appeals ultimately ruled that Gunasekera was entitled to a public hearing to rebut the allegations against him. And in October 2010, the U.S. District Court in Columbus granted his motion for summary judgment and set an April 25th hearing date to determine how much money he should be awarded in damages. (...)

[Gunasekera] still has a defamation case against Ohio University pending in the Ohio Court of Claims.

The Republic (Columbus, Indiana) ran a story including the text:

The professor, Jay Gunasekera (goon-uh-seh-KEHR'-uh), was stripped of his role as a graduate student adviser in the mechanical engineering department after a school investigation into whether students copied master's or doctoral theses.

Investigators said unnamed faculty members ignored ethical responsibilities. Gunasekera argued that investigators implied that he ignored plagiarism.

IPBiz notes that engineers are not always the best at acknowledging prior art. The plagiarism here generally involved "background" material, rather than the "original" portion of the thesis. In the world of patents, one generally gives correct citations to the closest available art. In the academic world, there can be indifference to prior work.

Note text from a 1997 article:

On the flip side, there are some issues that good (predecessor) science is not always properly
identified. In an editorial in the journal Nature entitled "Restoring Good Manners in Research", then-
editor John Maddox observed:
But there is evidence in the hands of all journals that bad manners increasingly coexist with
good. Self-advertisement is more common now than it used to be. People refer to their own
publications when others' would be more apt. When reference to competitors is unavoidable,
they may refer to a minor paper, ignoring a more important work. Nature, 1995, 376, 113.
Failure to cite prior work is not unknown. For example, see a letter to the editor in Chemical &
Engineering News, p. 36 (Feb. 6, 1995) about the failure of a 1994 paper in Science, 266, 773 to cite a
paper in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, 1984, 106, 1983. Correct attribution is also an
issue in legal circles. (Nat. Law Jour., (Dec. 22, 1997)).
In my own experience, I came across one episode which illustrated the inability of the scientific
community to deal with each side of the coin. In a paper by D. L. Wertz and M. Bissell, Energy &
Fuels, 1994, 8, 613-617 on the diffraction of the graphene layer ["(002)"] peak in bituminous coals, the
authors stated that the diffraction peak was "far too intense to be caused by amorphous scattering and far
too broad to be caused by conventional diffraction." The authors cited three papers to justify this
assertion. Of three papers relied upon to prove the statement, which was the key assumption in the
paper, one was non-existent, one was irrelevant and one supported a contrary position.


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