Letters to the Editor: Professional Concerns

March 18, 2012

To the Editor:
I recently refereed a manuscript submitted to journal X that included pages of work plagiarized from my own publications. I recommended rejection of the paper, and the editor fully agreed that it should be rejected because of the plagiarism. The paper was rejected. I have now become aware that the same paper (with only the title changed) has been submitted to journal Y, including the plagiarized material. Based on the bibliography of the latter submission, it seems that the authors have five or six other new manuscripts that probably contain the same plagiarized material.

It seems clear that these authors will simply continue submitting their work, unmodified, to different journals until they get it accepted. Is there something that can be done about this?

David Ketcheson
Mathematical and Computer Sciences and Engineering Division
King Abdullah Univerity of Science and Technology

To the Editor:
I would like to challenge the assumption made by Alice B. Popejoy et al. in their study of a gender gap in research prizes (SIAM News, December 2011) that the candidates eligible for various SIAM prizes come from academia. The assumption is implicit, based on the authors' inclusion of population data from academic institutions only.

In my nearly 20 years as a research scientist at a prestigious national lab, I was always more interested in solving actual problems than in writing math research papers. I wouldn't say that my research warranted consideration for any of SIAM's distinguished prizes. I would even venture to say that these prizes made no difference to me in my scientific activities at any stage of my career. Many of my former colleagues and fellow SIAM members, both male and female, have published their research much more proactively than I have, and they probably should be included in the pool of prize candidates. Although I didn't see evidence that their research activities and enthusiasm were driven by the opportunity to earn one of those prizes, the mere existence of practicing mathematicians outside university math departments seems to be completely overlooked in this NSF-funded study.

I find the suggestion that both men and women hold "implicit gender stereotypes" that lead us to "associate men with careers and science, women with nurturing and the humanities" quite one-dimensional. However, if that rationale could lead to a more open and transparent competition and selection process for these prizes, I'm quite happy to take the Machiavellian view that "the ends justify the means." This does not change the fact that, for many of us, especially those who are non-academics, the thrill of getting a prize doesn't come close to that of knowing that you've solved a real problem and made a difference.

This letter expresses the author's personal opinion and does not represent that of her employer.

Karen Pao
Advanced Scientific Computing Research
U.S. Department of Energy

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