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September 19, 2013
File Under "Nerve, Lots Of"
From an editorial in Science written by the president and the vice-president of the European Research Council:
Imagine sitting over a pile of applications submitted to one of the most prestigious funding agencies. Suddenly, what you read appears familiar—not only the idea, but its terminology and the methods proposed. You recognize entire sentences because you wrote them. This scenario must have been an utter surprise for one of the European Research Council’s (ERC’s) evaluation panel members who, last year, stumbled across the most bizarre case of scientific misconduct that the organization has witnessed so far.
Yep, the application had been copied from one of the reviewer's own grant applications, submitted a few years before on a different continent. It was just bad luck for the plagiarist that their copy-paste job landed up on the desk of the scientist who wrote it in the first place. But as the editorial goes on to say, the ERC ended up being unable to take any actions against this person (except, one assumes, denying the opportunity to fund them). Another case is mentioned from 2011, where an applicant from a "respected European university" forged a document in a grant application. The ERC notified the university, but that institution took no action until the person had applied for another grant while forging yet another document. Reading between the lines, you can see the whole editorial as (perhaps) a plea for being given powers to actually do something about these situations, or at the very least, a plea for those who can do something to actually do it once in a while.
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