PhD, editor and mother of Anna Kuleshova at some point have had enough of plagiarism in scientific articles, which she edited. And she spoke to the scientific community, describing the arbitrariness in this sphere and wrong management decisions that entail the emergence of a large number of “junk” articles. The next step was the creation of the Council on ethics of scientific publications. In an interview with “Real-time” Anna told about how the Council is struggling with plagiarism and fraud.
“WHERE ARE YOU GOING? I HAVE 20 YEARS OF BUSINESS. YOUR FEET SNATCH — MATCH TO INSERT?”
— Anna, how was created the Board of ethics of scientific publications?
After defending my dissertation, I worked about five years as an editor at the publishing center of RAS, in the journal “Sociological studies”. To me for the editing systematically got texts from plagiarism. Then worked the system “Antiplagiat”, which is why I from time to time told the authors: “you Have the plagiarism in the article! How could you?!” And I answered: “Well, what do you, editor, will you?” Shared with colleagues: “you Know, I found that this article was already published, and the authorship changed.” I objected: “Well, Anh, you understand your place, what, on the whole, academician go after that?” And I, honest mother of many children, absolutely brutalized at some point thinking that the rest of my life I will edit the article with the plagiarism, that nothing can change.
Can’t say that I was svarkomplekt in the field of scientific ethics, there are people who deal with this subject in detail, well versed, know the theory and history. But I had practical experience and a desire to do something. Understand that we are talking not only about science, because people with such publications then become doctors, rectors. This fake doctors, officials, issuing crazy orders. And I decided that at least try to change the situation.
And in 2016, spoke at a conference organized by Association of scientific editors and publishers…
— Yes, were very emotional. If you summarize, it comes down to: “we Need to stop all of this edition-“predators” publish plagiarism, texts that don’t pass peer review, distributed registration and gift authorship, and there is no Council. This is information noise, it is not a science, and a horse in a coat”. And read the Declaration which we made together with our colleagues, where we explained in particular why plagiarism is bad (to our surprise, not all the people in the audience understood it).
And when he began to read it, it became clear that the conference was attended by representatives of journals-“predators”. They hooted, directly approached and said: “Where are you even going? I have twenty years of business. Your feet snatch — match to insert?” Came a powerful woman, and said that the hair I providerget. I have to this day was the second report, and I wrote to a colleague, it might not be me that day, and she said, “Anna, hair pick up and go on.” So the words spoken at the right time, changing history.
That day are clearly aware of that need or to take a cowardly position, to allow this all to continue and wait for some other Anna Kuleshova ozvereet from the perspective of a lifetime to read “junk” articles, or risk itself. That is when my candidacy voted, I did not refuse, although it was already clear that will not be simple. So there was a Council.
— Who it includes, in addition to you?
— All the members know each other, as are the permanent participants of the conference, which for many years organized by the Association of scientific editors and publishers (ANRI). The President of the Association, Olga V. Kirillova, many years conducts active work on improvement of Russian academic publications, she acquaints us with foreign experts and standards brings together editors in full profoundest. The Council has managed to unite representatives of Scopus, Russian citation index “of Discarnate”, “no-Plagiarism”, Web of Science, Society for research workers, “Dissertatie”, leading universities, such as HSE, editors of powerful journals. We have collected all independent of interested parties. The composition published in the public domain, and when we send the letter, signed by all members of the Council. All these people contribute to, we have developed civilized scientific sphere, but not wild.
— What is the involvement of such organizations as the Russian science citation index or Scopus international?
For example, we recommend to withdraw the article, and the magazine says: “Go you to the bath, we have a business like this, we will publish dozens, we do not care for your advice”. Then the Russian index of scientific citation can take this information into account and analyzing it by the additional parameters, to decide whether this magazine is bona fide or is it a “predator”. If the latter — it will exclude it from its database. We also promptly transmit the data to Scopus and WoS, if we see, for example, that some scientific journal publishes 40 articles of the same author (even if it is not a Russian journal, and Indian).
This consolidation, as we have, it seems, anywhere in the world. And it is yielding results. And recently there was a Commission of Sciences to combat the falsification of research. So the number of fronts on which work is increasing. Andrei Rostovtsev (Discerned), Victor Gluhov (RISC) are in this Commission, I also, it allows more efficient to transform the situation for the better.
“PEOPLE BEGAN TO THINK THAT PLAGIARISM OF TEXT IS BAD, BUT PLAGIARISM OF IDEAS IS FINE”
— You said that the scientific sphere in Russia was wild. What does it mean?
The main absurdity, in my opinion, is that normalized the abnormal. Let this be plagiarism, let it be drawn from sociological or medical research — it all had one answer: “what’s wrong? All the way live!” Science has become a phantasmagoria, we came to a situation when to rely on scientific publication became impossible. Any nonsense could be without any review printed in the magazine calling itself scientific.
On the other hand, we are increasingly at the mercy of the people that publish fake research and fabriciusa data. They occupy positions, take management decisions and we all were and are their hostages. Third point — people have lost faith that may be different. This is the worst. “I’m not bad, it’s life”. “I can refuse if I was forced? I am a person of servitude”. “Is it possible to withdraw the article, if I did plagiarize it status people?”
Management decisions, such as increasing publication activity, lead to the fact that at first took the form of an aggressive and unscrupulous people who easily enter into criminal conspiracies, easily simulate scientific activity, and this occupation is, mind you, not nasty. And those who represents the image of a quiet, intelligent scientist who was on the sidelines of life. And if you can not live one day, and to think about the future, it’s all really scary and seem wild.
— And what has changed since the formation of the Council?
Almost every performance of the Council to external sites ends with the words: “How great that you exist. It’s great that there is hope that you can live differently.” Previously, those who wanted to live differently, to live and work honestly, was, nevertheless, installing, otherwise it will not work, just trash on the side of life, that’s all. Now we are trying to regain reputation mechanisms. Large efforts of HENRI, Discerned, RSCI, “anti-Plagiarism”, ONR, Russian Academy of Sciences. We all together are struggling to get people to believe again that you in good faith to do science, to write articles, not necessarily one to ascribe to the authors, it is possible to find protection, if you have stolen text, etc., etc.
— And the amount of plagiarism decreased?
— Technically, Yes. We (in this case more correct to speak of “Plagiarism” and “Discarnate”) see it in less than 10 years ago. But that’s not true. Because the unintended consequence of the work of the ethical Council, “Discarnate” and “Plagiarism” was that people began to put a lot of effort to ensure that the plagiarism was not visible for the machine. And they began to think that plagiarism of text is bad, but plagiarism of ideas is fine.
Technically, today is less plagiarism, but “garbage” articles and dissertations have not diminished. They can be without plagiarism. For example, recently saw this article: “Forecasting the exchange rate at the astronomical data using the artificial intelligence”. And it was published in the journal included into the list of VAK. Plagiarism not, but it’s nicely packaged garbage. And this garbage is getting a hell of a lot. Until they change the situation with reputational mechanisms, until they begin to be imputed to management decisions, it is unlikely that anything will change.
“WAVE OF PANIC BEFORE THE VACCINE WENT BECAUSE OF ONE UNFAIR PUBLICATION”
— What management decisions are needed?
— It was decided to increase the number of scientific publications. The logic probably was: if there is a science, then, is a scientific publication; if you want to have good science to tell that there were a lot of publications. For scientific articles introduced payouts and bonuses to universities and teachers. But no one has introduced a KPI to review. Person unprofitable to review, for the article he will pay, but for the fact that it will read other people’s texts, nothing. And so weak reviewing this decision sags even more. Many scientific articles are no reviews (I think these articles more than a hundred thousand a year to you understand the scale). But peer review is the cornerstone, it protects against errors, data manipulation.
And yet the authors to obtain additional payments, instead of one good article published ten, wiping thoughts on paper, adding in water. The responsibility for such managerial decision, no one carries. And it is, in fact, provokes a crime. People to survive, is forced to simulate a large number of publications.
Or, for example, a managerial decision to increase the number of publications of Russian scientists in international journals. This leads to a global scientific surfing. The author, relatively, doing sociology of the Russian village. Abroad it’s not interesting. And he is now engaged in the LGBT community, but not because it is a new field of scientific interest, but because on the subject of the article easily published in foreign journals. And all of his accumulated years, he lays. The social and human Sciences are forced to rely on international interest to play along, there is a replacement of their scientific challenges. And the fact that you live and work in Russia, and commend you abroad, you are constantly competing with the natives, is difficult, although I’m all for joining in the international community. But not in this way that scientists are beginning to leave their topics and to fabricate data. And they go on it’s not that bad, in other circumstances they would never have occurred similar to do.
— In which sectors more fraud scientific publications?
— Law, Economics, medicine. Moreover, when fabricating the doctors, this is fatal. It can be fabricated research data on the basis of which then creates medications. For example, everyone knows about antireligioznik. I once spoke on the subject of retracted articles in the hall were representatives of Scopus, they said that the wave of panic before the vaccine went just because of the unfair publication of one pediatrician. He wanted to stand out, published fake data on the basis of which changed the vaccination schedule, as a result, it led to the deaths and mutations. This article was withdrawn, but the panic has spread around the world, and we see the return of many diseases that were vanquished. The ordinary person thinks that science publication is not so much, and the value is: think, why would a Board of ethics around them to create, but the consequences are very serious.
“IN UNIVERSITIES PEOPLE ARE DIVIDED INTO “AGRICULTURAL LABORERS” AND “OWNERS”
— What is “gift authorship”? I read scary stories that send order for the University, according to which all employees are required to attribute the authors of the rector. No matter if a math article, medicine or history. Is this it?
— Registration and gift authorship is more or less the same. In the text appears the name of a person who has not made scientific contributions. Sometimes it is “peaceful” gift authorship, when a person says that it is “my supervisor, he is already old, and if I’m going to ascribe, he will receive allowance”. This is more or less harmless, though, and introduces distortions in the scientometric indicators.
Worse, when the person to comply with all orders, wanting to cheat their indicators, using administrative resources. For example, a real and not an isolated case, when the Department of forcing students to write articles and be sure to put them in the names of the teachers. Faculty are forced into a similar deans and Vice-rectors by rectors.
When I say this in speeches, often tear applause. And they become a litmus test, because the right to speak about it is not accepted, but the problem is real and large: in universities, people are divided into “agricultural laborers” and “masters”. Someone “rotten”, writes articles good, without plagiarism, but then they put the last name of the rector or head of the Department. This acts as a reputational distortion. We think that man done, that’s his article, and they never it. But he becomes an expert. He decides who to give the grants. You know, there are a lot of ethical “ambush”. And conclusiveness are all difficult. We can assume that if a person article are in mathematics, physics and history, it is unlikely he is the author of them all. That’s just hard to prove.
And another serious point — the problem is not only that it is not punished, but in the fact that pay extra for it. If the rector had no co-pay for each article, he would not need so many publications. It turns out that unscrupulous, unethical behavior appropriate. Ethical and impractical, you’d be a fool, to suck his paw. And you still kicked out, say you’re ineffective: “How long are you writing a paper? A whole year? Learn to give scientific texts in the model of fast food”.
There are funny cases. Asked whether posthumously to attribute to the scientist and he died ten years ago, but want him to be my co-authors to deliver. Answer: “how do you text to align will with the deceased?”
Ascribed the authorship began to flourish. This is a consequence of the same irresponsible decisions. Today are massively distribution, conditionally: “Article research paper on economic Sciences, will pay $ 300 and become a sponsor”. You pay and end up in the international collaboration of some articles in English. And already it is hard to tell who is in front of you is a crook or a decent person. You don’t know who is trusted expertise, suddenly it all these publications with foreign coauthors bought?
When we first started working with RISC, they for examination invited people with high Hirsch indices. I really resisted: “I Have so many questions, is too high Hirsch — an occasion for thoughtful analysis. And if for him are cheating and collusion? Suddenly there was a collusion citation? Or ascribed the authorship?” In the Soviet Union to attribute the names of the Directors of the institutes for scientific publications was a sacred duty. It’s like a tradition, good form, and when they say that the ascribed authorship is not good, the answer is: “how can I do not to ascribe to, it will be nothing to publish, he’s ears busy with administrative work, he’ll just throw us!” When I had said the phrase Metropolitan rector, “I will Go to the Fig stubs from metro to collect.” This appeal to the faculty in response to the resistance…
— How is the business paid writing dissertations, essays?
— All the phenomena we encounter in the space of scientific publications, are not specific and unique only to this sphere. Alcohol advertising is prohibited, and the sale of no. Same here. Managed to hold the ban on advertising of these services. But how it stopped… Created the conditions for it to be necessary. There are times when it is cheaper to pay for the writing of the article or to steal it, to receive an allowance than not to execute a crazy plan for publications and to depart from the University.
Again, the conditions that make unethical behavior is appropriate. Demand creates supply. And the demand is born because of the curves, ill-considered administrative decisions of people who, I would venture to suggest, are accustomed to falsify texts or writing them never alone.
“IF YOU ALLOW YOURSELF TWO TO THREE DAYS OF DOWNTIME, THEN A WEEK TO CLEAN UP THE MESS”
— How is the work of your Board? Who you may ask?
— To my e-mail is coming from three to twenty hits per day from all over Russia. As a rule, people with simply no one to turn to. There are complicated things that require additional expertise, sometimes about the situation to tell on the condition of anonymity so we could to the problem in the University approach on the other hand, creating a particular person problem. I handle these requests on a daily basis, something from answer that-it aggregates and by the end of the quarter of five-ten the stand on the meeting of the Council. It comes from all the members of the Council, someone connects via Skype. So, when the author heard about the problems with reagirovanie (revoked — approx. ed.) texts, he began to make the profile of the authors of information that they have not only 100 publications were made and 78 times they are cited, but that 10 of them retracted for plagiarism. For employers and funders this is an important story.
If we talk about reagirovanie articles that initially Discerned monitors, programmers work in their algorithms. They give us a list of problematic magazines, articles. Plus have received complaints, the Complainants reported the theft of his articles/dissertations. This data is checked by volunteers (as a rule, University employees and staff with academic degrees), it can be wrong, and people — to stipulate colleagues. Our volunteers welcome. After volunteers further information check the members of the Council. Then comes the sending of messages, again by volunteers, we recommend that the texts were withdrawn. This activity was joined by the RAS Commission to counter the falsification of research.
— That is, uncompensated work?
— All Council members have a primary job where they get paid. I’m working at the polls. All Council members are professionals, and we wonder that the situation in the country has changed, we can say, the patriots, professionals and volunteers into one.
— You have three children, do you have enough time for all this?
— I’m easy to be the mother of many children, if I were without a family and children, it would be really difficult. It is not difficult to be the cause of life. It is clear that the work and activities of the Council are time-consuming. I’m working 24/7. If you allow yourself two to three days of downtime, then a week to clean up the rubble. But I wonder to cause change for the better. Children see that I’m trying to change the world, what do you think about the future. They are aware of the Council’s work, there is a lot of interesting cases, about which I tell them.
And most importantly — in my life come very interesting people. Around is becoming more and more amazing professionals, amazing personalities, and the more you do, the more of them around. How would I with them crossed if you are sitting in the editorial office and turned a blind eye to all violations, coming through my hands? I have no boundaries between work and life. Work is woven into the fabric of everyday life. I think the family suffers a bit, but in General all have become accustomed to it. Sometimes, of course, tired, think, “let it burn all the blue flame.” As a rule, soon arrives thanks or some good news, then I say to myself: “Well, Ann, it’s not in vain, popitem else.”
— And thanks for what? Can you give examples of when your work helped a specific people?
For example, it is possible to withdraw the article. Imagine, a provincial College, the teacher stole the text he hinted about it, but explained to him that they should sit quietly. He sits, and this text is significant for the scientific community, but the conference and interview name is a completely different person, and the author feels his helplessness and worthlessness. And then it turns out to withdraw the article, to return to their rightful authorship and to contribute to the profile of the abuser of science and information about plagiarism.
There were situations when some universities after my lectures have introduced extra charges for reviewing. And the staff later said that they had started a new life, they began a different attitude. Something up there I realized…
Or that magazine was weak, inferior, and I listened to the speeches of the members of the Council and withdrew 50 articles, changed the composition of the editorial Board. It’s been a couple years, they wrote that was included in the international database were different. Again, we will cause change for the better. It’s great. One strong journal became more. Cool it now! Or write here the students: “We’ve heard about you, I want to publish in this journal, asked the question: worth it or not worth it?” That is all slowly changing, young people are given conscious attitude. Them never was made to learn the norms of scientific ethics.
When speaking to editors, telling them: “You are the guardians of common sense, the guardians of science. Evil has to end for you.” Russian science is changing, and I feel that is also involved. It gives us strength.
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