« 撃墜非難決議 国際調査にはまだ障害がある | トップページ | 今日のイチオシDreamNews »

2014年7月24日 (木)

早大博士論文 杜撰な審査がまかり通るのか

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Unsound methods for thesis screening should shock the public
早大博士論文 杜撰な審査がまかり通るのか

It has come to light that not only was Haruko Obokata’s Waseda University doctoral thesis grossly flawed—the school’s screening process itself was defective.

The thesis, about pluripotent cells, was submitted to Waseda in 2011 by Obokata, who was then a student at the university and is currently a scientist at the government-backed research institute RIKEN. Waseda’s investigative panel has concluded that her paper included plagiarism and other forms of misconduct and deemed it “extremely unreliable.”

The investigation committee also criticized Waseda’s method for reviewing Obokata’s thesis, saying the university’s instructions to Obokata on how to write it were extremely flawed, as was its screening of her paper.

However, in spite of these findings, the panel decided that the defects in Obokata’s thesis do not warrant the revocation of the doctorate granted to her. In offering this conclusion, the committee said that her paper’s faults did not constitute irregularities created by falsifying experimental results.

We find the panel’s decision unreasonable.

Earlier, Obokata had defended herself, insisting the thesis was a rough draft that she inadvertently submitted to the university three years and six months ago. In May, she submitted to the panel a paper she claimed to be “a complete version.”

We believe Obokata’s submission of the purported rough draft should not be dismissed as merely a careless error, given her pursuit of a career in science.

The complete version of the thesis was no less faulty. A significant part of the paper’s introduction, which emphasized the significance of her research, was a direct copy of text attributed to a U.S. research institution. There is every reason to question the originality of her paper.

Obokata’s professional shortcomings were also evident in her comments on her unauthorized use of images from other scientists’ works. She reportedly told the panel that she had “no awareness” as to whether doing so was inappropriate.

Shoddy supervision

A Waseda professor who served as an adviser for Obokata must be brought to task for failing to properly teach her the importance of research ethics and observing the basic rules for writing articles, though there is no need to speak of Obokata’s immaturity.

Despite his position as the chief examiner of Obokata’s paper, the professor did not inspect her thesis. Questions must be raised about his failure to realize that her so-called draft thesis had been submitted to Waseda’s in-house board responsible for judging whether submitted papers should be given passing marks.

It also should not be overlooked that the board’s screening process has been reduced to a mere formality. Members of the board spent only several minutes reading each submitted thesis. It would be impossible for them to fully examine the substance of each paper.

The ultimate authority to decide whether individual Waseda students should be awarded doctorates rests with the university’s president, Kaoru Kamata. After receiving a report from the investigation panel, he said, “I’ll carefully examine [the committee’s findings], and launch discussions within the university.”

If Waseda neglects to take appropriately stringent action in connection with the Obokata case, it could damage the international credibility of doctoral degrees awarded in Japan.

Doubts have also arisen over articles written by other students from the Waseda postgraduate course to which Obokata belonged. The university must uncover the whole truth of the matter.

The government has been implementing measures to greatly expand the number of people holding doctorates, with a view to improving our nation’s stature in science and technology. The number of people in Japan with doctorates has increased by 50 percent since the early 1990s.

Does the increase in quantity reflect the same quality of degree recipients? Other universities should also examine their systems for examining papers in the awarding of degrees.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 23, 2014)


« 撃墜非難決議 国際調査にはまだ障害がある | トップページ | 今日のイチオシDreamNews »





« 撃墜非難決議 国際調査にはまだ障害がある | トップページ | 今日のイチオシDreamNews »