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#Pleasedontstealmywork — Through the course of only a few days, the campaign against research theft has received more than 50 stories about stolen ideas and unjustified co-authorships. When the campaign reaches 100, they will be released.
A co-author who only read the research paper six months after its publication. An identical research design that suddenly pops up with one of the examiners’ colleagues. And a professor who is famous for turning students’ master’s theses into research articles without giving credit.
These are some of the more than 50 testimonials that have been gathered since Monday by the PHD Association Network of Denmark (PAND), which has set out to investigate the extent of so-called research theft in Denmark.
»Clearly, people have had all these stories bottled up inside,« says PhD student Maria Toft. She and the PhD association PAND started a campaign where they gather in anonymous testimonies about the theft of research.
As the University Post has described earlier, Maria Toft was herself a party to a dispute with two older researchers about who had the rights of authorship over research articles. And there are many indications that she is not the only one who has experienced, in particular, senior researchers taking credit for the work of the younger ones.
»The stories are pouring in. I shared an update on my story on LinkedIn that went viral. Hundreds have written or phoned me where they have told their own stories and thanked me for coming forward.«
Inspired by the #MeToo campaign, the hashtag #pleasedontstealmywork hopes to bring forth anonymous testimonies from young researchers who have themselves experienced, or seen others, having their research results, ideas or data stolen.
You can read more about the campaign here.
Research theft can be when other researchers steal credit for a colleague’s ideas, data or analyses. And it is, in particular, stories about the so-called co-authorships which are repeated in the many testimonies, Maria Toft says.
»This typically happens when a senior researcher is given co-authorship without them contributing significantly to the article. Sometimes they may have read it and corrected a couple of typos – and then there are the stories where the researcher has not even read the article they are a co-author of,« she says. She points out that there are also individual cases of direct research theft, where a research idea is rejected by an examiner, after which it pops up among one of the examiner’s acquaintances.
When the campaign #pleasedontstealmywork has gathered 100 testimonials, they will be published so that people can read all the many stories, Maria Toft says. The goal is for researchers to be able to see that they are not alone with these experiences.
»It will also make it easier to question the practices and structures that make it possible for this type of behaviour to happen at all. Things like publication pressure, temporary hires, and the Danish university legislation, all of which contributes to research theft and its concealment.«