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Wiley Wegman chutzpah update: Now you too can buy a selection of garbled Wikipedia articles, for a mere $1400-$2800 per year!

Someone passed on to a message from his university library announcing that the journal “Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Computational Statistics” is no longer free.

Librarians have to decide what to do, so I thought I’d offer the following consumer guide:

Wiley Computational Statistics journal Wikipedia
Frequency 6 issues per year Continuously updated
Includes articles from Wikipedia? Yes Yes
Cites the Wikipedia sources it uses? No Yes
Edited by recipient of ASA Founders Award? Yes No
Articles are subject to rigorous review? No Yes
Errors, when discovered, get fixed? No Yes
Number of vertices in n-dimensional hypercube? 2n 2n
Easy access to Brady Bunch trivia? No Yes
Cost (North America) $1400-$2800 $0
Cost (UK) £986-£1972 £0
Cost (Europe) €1213-€2426 €0

The choice seems pretty clear to me!

It’s funny for the Wiley journal to start charging now for access. Unless they can convince Wikipedia to (a) charge at least $1401/year and (b) introduce errors into their articles to level the playing field, I think Wegman’s journal is going to have difficulty competing in the free market.

25 Comments

  1. LemmusLemmus says:

    Excellent. But shouldn’t there be a link on “2n”?

    • Andrew says:

      The link must have disappeared when I cut-and-pasted from Wikipedia. That can happen, you know!

      • Di Cook says:

        Andrew, Did you just make a mistake??? Did you miss the wikipedia citation? Honestly, I have to agree with Nick, this blog discussion is over the top. Are you all really as perfect as you sound?

        • Andrew says:

          Di:

          What Wikipedia citation are you referring to?

          When I wrote in my comment above, “The link must have disappeared when I cut-and-pasted from Wikipedia,” that was a joke, an allusion to Wegman’s copy-and-paste job discussed here.

          I agree that the blog discussion is over the top. I also think it’s over the top for Wiley to charge $1400+ for recycled Wikipedia material, and it’s over the top for Wegman to repeatedly copy other people’s work without crediting them or apologizing to them after getting caught.

  2. Tom says:

    But it is not just Brady Bunch trivia – there is so much more on Wikipedia

  3. I feel the embarrassment blow-back all the way from here. Ouch!

  4. John Mashey says:

    Sometimes errors get fixed.
    They did remove the Said mis-affiliation with Oklahoma State.

    • Sam says:

      Yeah, John, but only after some intrepid person filed a FOI request about Said’s non-employment records, and OK State complained to the publishers. That is to say that Said was never employed by Oklahoma State University in any capacity. As in never. As in, she lied.

  5. Poly says:

    embarrasses me to be a skeptic/conservative. Note that Steve McI has still not called out Wegman for plagiarism or for screwing up his math analysis of McI/Mann. Whole thing makes me sick. Makes me want to put a boot on my sides throut.

  6. Martin Vermeer says:

    A somewhat pertinent question to ask of Steve McI (and actually all that try to maintain with a straight face that this is not a big deal) is: what is the proper duration of a scientific misconduct investigation/enquiry once started, in a serious university, and irrespective of the outcome:
    1) eighteen months
    2) less
    3) more
    4) until people forget about it
    5) other, what: …
    ?

  7. Nick Cox says:

    This is droll. Someone should also point out that the majority of authors are doing good honest work with their papers here. The apples in the barrel are not all bad.

  8. John Mashey says:

    Nick:
    In April, I made a pass over all the articles, and many are written by people who are obvious experts and many look like fine reviews. If someone asked me who to get to do a review of statistics in computer performance analysis, I’d have said Dave Lilja … and Shruti Patil, David J. Lilja have a nice review (one of my articles is even cited :-)). I would guess that 3/4 of the articles are quite likely fine.

    At the other extreme, we’ve seen some absurd junk by Said & Wegman, not just plagiarized, but erroneous.

    Then there is a grey zone where I make no claim of wrongdoing, but there are oddities.
    As of April, there were 156 articles:
    4 were by Wegman/Said
    14 were by Wegman students
    8 involved other Wegman coauthors
    1 by a Said coauthor
    6 by others at GMU
    ===
    33 total, 21% of the 156

    6 by Scott
    1 by a Scott student
    2 by Scott coauthors
    1 by Scott colleague at Rice
    ===
    10 total, 6.4%

    ===
    43 overall total, 27.6% of the 156.

    Wegman and Scott are both distinguished statisticians with lots of students and coauthors.
    People naturally ask associates for articles, which is just fine.
    Scott’s set seemed reasonable.

    All these articles may be reasonable, although there are a few that I wonder about. In an extreme oddity, one issue of the jounral had 10 articles:
    3 are by Wegman’s past students: Martinez, Moustafa, Chow
    1 is Wegman and Said (2011)
    1 is by Scott
    1 is by a colleague of Scott’s at Rice, Wickham

    So, that’s 6 of 10 articles by the editors and associates. Every article (except the W&S(2011)) may be fine, but it is disquieting.

    WIRES:CS pieces are often referenced in CV’s as peer-reviewed (5 of 6 of Scott’s were) and maybe they are, but it is hard to tell from outside, especially with Said apparently running the review process.

    I have no doubt that most of the articles *are* good.
    But it is confidence-braking to find junk in a review journal, where one expects articles written by experts and well-vetted, so that you can read about an area outside your expertise and trust it as a guide.

    • Nick Cox says:

      John: I agree with all your principles explicit here and have no reason to doubt your findings, but like many other people on this blog I know some of the authors and greatly respect their work, and thought that simple statement needed to be made.

      Some people must be very upset and embarrassed to caught up in that mess, but I will not act as anybody’s conscience on what they should do.

      • Andrew says:

        Nick:

        Just as a start, I think it would be appropriate for Wegman to directly contact everyone he plagiarized from and apologize to them, and also apologize to the U.S. Congress for inserting erroneous and unsourced material into the report he wrote for them.

        • Nick Cox says:

          I wasn’t thinking of Wegman, oddly enough. I have nothing to add to what has been said very well indeed about Wegman and regard him as discredited, although it would be better than nothing if he did admit it and attempt to apologise and if his university would conclude their investigation.

          The dilemmas I was thinking of were those of honest people still associated with that journal. For all I know, some of them are agitating for a change at the top, but being too discreet to talk about it in public.

      • John Mashey says:

        Yes, for sure. I think there is zero problem whatsoever with most of the authors and their articles, and there is no reason for them to be embarrassed. in the slightest. I thought the general idea of WIRES:CS seemed pretty reasonable, and to the extent I looked, the other WIRES journals seem to work OK.

        It is clear that there are serious plagiarism/quality problems with 2 articles, unfortunately written by 2 of the Editors-in-Chief, a situation I’ve never heard of before. The evidence raises concerns about the real nature of the editorial review process.

        But in any case, these are not the problems of the *authors*, most of whom seemed sensible choices to write good review articles.

        • Ben Bolker says:

          Sorry to be coming in late here, but has there been contact with someone at Wiley about this? If I were either one of the other authors (I know some of them, including author(s) of papers John “wonder[s] about”) or the management of Wiley I would want to do something quickly to get any bad apples out of the barrel and establish the integrity of the rest …

  9. John Mashey says:

    Nick & Ben: in earlier thread, Ted Kirkpatrick wrote:

    “Eli: Several formal plagiarism complaints have been filed with Wiley. Wiley’s policy is to only comment on the progress of such complaints when they have reached and published a formal conclusion.”

    So, this is a seriously-weird situation for Wiley, even ignoring all the blog posts of DC’s and others, let us recall:

    11/21/10 USA Today article quotes 3 academic plagiarism experts.

    05/15/11 USA Today notes retraction of CS&DA article, Said, Wegman, Sharabati, Rigsby (2008), with more information here.

    05/26/11 Nature editorializes about slow investigation of plagiarism at GMU.

    Then, for WIRES:CS
    a) Said was listed with a false affiliation with Oklahoma State University since 2009. That finally got fixed.
    b) Wegman & Said (2011)
    c) Said & Wegman (2009)

    So, from SIGMU, we have reaction speeds:
    A) Rice: 9 days: a bit easier case, but serious alacrity.
    B) Elsevier/CS&DA: ~7 months, including a 2-month delay getting it to the right person. After that, it moved reasonably.
    C) GMU: from the first complaint, 18.5 months and still counting.

    SO, does anyone have any more examples of how long such things take? I’ve never heard of this sort of thing with 2 editors.
    Do people have opinions as to how long it should take?

    • Andrew says:

      John:

      At this point you might not need to follow this up anymore. My guess that Wegman’s reputation is at zero right now. Not everyone has heard of the plagiarism, but if he ever sticks his head up again about anything, it’ll come up over and over. It’s not like Doris Kearns Goodwin, who spun her copying into award-winning books. Whatever Wiley does or does not do, I don’t think anyone’s going to take Wegman seriously anymore.

      • John Mashey says:

        Actually, I haven’t been focused on Wegman&Said s much of late …
        generally anything reportable has been reported, either by me or by others, some of whom I don’t even know.

        At this point, any remaining concerns are about the response (or seeming non-response) by various organizations, of which there are more than have been mentioned.

      • Ted Kirkpatrick says:

        Andrew: Yes, amongst statisticians, Wegman’s reputation is likely near zero. But the general public remains unaware and some people still put forth the Wegman report as a valid critique of climate science. The media will only discuss problems with that report in the context of an event they consider newsworthy. A second public retraction of a Wegman paper will draw the media to revisit the story—and with luck, we’ll get some public discussion of the irregularities in the Wegman report.

  10. Deep Climate says:

    Said and Wegman 2009: Suboptimal scholarship

    Today I present an analysis of a 2009 article by Yasmin Said and Edward Wegman of George Mason University. “Roadmap for Optimization” was published in the inaugural edition of WIREs Comp Stats, one of a new family of Wiley publications conceived as a “serial encyclopedia”.

    As the title implies, the article was meant to provide a broad overview of the mathematical optimization and set the stage for subsequent articles detailing various optimization techniques. However my analysis, entitled Suboptimal Scholarship: Antecedents of Said and Wegman 2009, demonstrates the highly problematic scholarship of the “Roadmap” article.

    * No fewer than 15 likely online antecedent sources, all unattributed, have been identified, including 13 articles from Wikipedia and two others from Prof. Tom Ferguson and Wolfram MathWorld.

    * Numerous errors have been identified, apparently arising from mistranscription, faulty rewording, or omission of key information.

    * The scanty list of references appears to have been “carried along” from the unattributed antecedents; thus, these references may well constitute false citations.

  11. […] and takes responsibility for its content.The lesson here is: if you’re going to publish in an expensive “peer-reviewed” journal on something you know nothing about, you should do the following:1. Plagiarize. If you try to write […]

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