December 16, 2006

A different case of corruption in academia...

We received the following email:

'This is a different case of corruption in academia, but can you please publicise it. A superviser stole her student's work and damaged his life'

We publicise the above with pleasure and without any reservations.

Our only comment is that it is not unusual for supervisors to claim work which is not theirs but belongs to students, AND it is also possible for universities to ignore IPR issues and to use staff work to solicit funding for projects without resolving IPR issues with the staff member who pursued the original research.

Indeed, this is one more category of corruption in academia. If the student or the staff member claim their rights, then they pay the price, i.e. victimisation, exclusion, bullying, etc.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon said...

There is the danger that unless this claim can be substantiated, this may be a defamatory and possibly libelous statement, i.e. to name this particular person in this blog. Can we ask how do you know what you know, and can you substantiate this?

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon said...

We removed your original comment with the full name of the person you lcaim has abused his position to claim research as his own, BUT we provide it here again with only his initials, for it would be sad if we were to face legal action.

Your comment stated: "Can I add the name of A_ _ _ _ _ _ B_ _ _ _ as someone who abused his position to get information and use it as his own?"

We have no problem naming - and shaming - individuals in higher education who have abused their position. Give us the evidence and then let them sue us...

Anonymous said...

this persons actions amount to criminal activities

documents to follow soon

Anonymous said...

This is a great blog Pierre.

However I think you should not include the Pyshnov case "without reservation". Particularly since you (correctly) accuse institutions of being fascist both in words and through your excellent imagery. You should perhaps do a bit of reading about the racism and antiacademic rhetoric involved in this case before posting "without reservation".

It is also the case that there are instances of students being used by academic staff as a conduit for stealing the work of colleagues. The students are caught in the middle and are often kept in the dark.

Pyshnov said...

The main part of the University of Toronto fraud was perpetrated in the 80's. At the time, I could tell the story and show the documents only to the perpetrators themselves. They were not worried: the media was (and still is) in their pocket. They did not appreciate, however, the fact that Internet was coming.

Now, more and more people learn about the fraud. How can the perpetrators defend themselves? How they can say there is no fraud? They were unable to sue me for defamation during the nine months of my protest on campus either, because there were documents... So, they just called me anti-Semite and that scared people. Yes, they had some problem with this accusation: both of my parents were Jewish... Now they switched to the general "racist" label. Can they go to court and say: "Your Honour, please, ignore the fraud because we insist that the victim is a racist"? Well, in Canada it is possible, in fact, anything is possible.

Michael Pyshnov.

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon said...

Although racism and general discrimination often comes into bullying, we would prefer to avoid any comments that are race related, not because we are afraid, but because we don't want to cloud the issues too much.

It is always important to stick to the facts of one's case - the actual bullying and deception itself.

Of course it is possible for the accussers and/or the accussed to try to play the race card, BUT we must not focus on this per se.

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon said...

Name: Ellen Larsen
War on Plagiarism
Threat Level: Yellow: Elevated Risk
Occupation: Genetics Researcher and Professor, University of Toronto

Plagiarism and stealing of experimental results relating to "Analysis of cell packing and its relationship to morphogenesis in fruit fly imaginal discs"; Appropriation of authorship rights of a graduate student: "My research is stolen"

Decades of frustration and conspiracy theorizing by Larsen's former graduate student Michael Pyshnov; "The University [of Toronto] considers the matter closed" (former President R. J. Birgeneau).

Known for: Genetics research

Something definitely went wrong in the working relationship between University of Toronto graduate student Michael Pyshnov and his graduate supervisor, Ellen Larsen, University of Toronto genetics researcher and professor.

At his "University of Toronto fraud" website, former PhD candidate Michael Pyshnov tells his horrifying tale of being "outed" by a supervisor who wanted to rob him of his research findings and experimental techniques: "the credit for my work and my discoveries was stolen by the professor-supervisor and three other people. I received no degree."

The website is a rant against the University of Toronto, Professor Larsen, the President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada,former Ontario Minister A. Brzustowski, and several other professors as well as the President of the University of Toronto, R. Birgeneau (no longer with U of T). Pyshnov claims, "The University of Toronto had soon crossed the line separating a university from organized crime."

To a disinterested observer, it is somewhat difficult to determine exactly what happened back in the mid-1980s to make Mr. Pyshnov so embittered against a university system which he believes to have cheated him out of authorship rights to his research on "Analysis of cell packing and its relationship to morphogenesis in fruit fly imaginal discs." Some of the conspiracy-minded ideas might result from his having emigrated from the former Soviet Union, an "Evil Empire" in the famous words of Ronald Reagan which became known for incredible levels of corruption and abuse of citizens' rights.

That having been said, looking past the invective and seething hatred at Mr. Pyshnov's online diatribe seems to suggest a few irregularities in the publications process by which a professor reported the experimental results of a student's work (Words used by Mr. Pyshnov--"sadistic"; "barbarous"; "criminal sham"; "Here [University of Toronto], a communist professor was a fraud. And she, the Jewish female, brought the holocaust upon a scientist . . . Ellen Larsen-the politically correct substitute of a professor, the sadistic criminal and the prostitute of science is still teaching students"; "unconscionable fraud" ; "Jews, communists, 'lesbians', feminists and marihuana addicts, all, unfortunately for me, had a representation in the figure of Professor Larsen . . . the cunning professor-criminal used political corruption . . . ").

Mr. Pyshnov has clearly not helped his case--if, indeed, he has one--by resorting to such invective and diatribe against the "system". "Just Response" interviewed Pyshnov, giving him a forum which, as he indicates, other media outlets have denied him, perhaps because of his outspoken racist remarks.

Pyshnov's case involves the termination of his PhD program for reasons which are somewhat controversial. He reports that Professor Larsen then went on to publish the results of his research projects resulting from over 5 years of experimentation. In the ensuing controversy, Larsen and the University of Toronto took the position that Pyshnov's research was being "salvaged", yet as Pyshnov maintains, why would his work be considered worth "salvaging" by publication in prestigious journals when his position had essentially been terminated by Larsen? Why was he not allowed to continue on, finish his PhD studies, and maintain the authorship rights to his innovative and original work?

Larsen did retract one paper after Pyshnov's objections, and there are other seeming irregularities which suggest Mr. Pyshnov's authorship rights might have been infringed upon. But this is very difficult to substantiate more than 20 years later. Pyshnov's career has come to a halt, and this is a great tragedy when a gifted researcher becomes no longer able to make quality contributions to scientific advancement (recovery may be in progress--see Federov and Pyshnov's Cell Division Program).

Rumours abound of graduate students in similar situations, although not quite as sensational as Pyshnov's case--their work having been appropriated by their mentors and supervisors, which the students only discover after it is too late to do much about it. The "poor man's copyright" as it has been called, circumventing the process of registering discoveries with the Copyright or Patent Office, is to use registered mail to send a draft of such discoveries to oneself in a sealed envelope. In case questions ever arise, this constitutes proof of the date of discovery as verified by the postal date on the un-opened envelope. Graduate students and researchers, be on guard against greedy mentors and supervisors helping themselves to your work!


Pyshnov said...

O, my God, Pierre, I thank you.
How right are you! I never wanted to do any politics and never did, in my life. I had other things. For 14 years I wouldn't believe that politics can decide the outcome of my case and my complaints. I even now do not consider politics a part of my case. But to remain silent after 14 years when things were so obviously wrong, I could not. I ask people to read documents. You say "...we would prefer to avoid any comments that are race related, not because we are afraid, but because we don't want to cloud the issues too much." That is right. If political corruption will become a focus of investigation, it should only come after the fraud is fully investigated.

I especially appreciate the comments on your site related to the role of unions. I think it's the first time people freely speak on the issue. When, in my case, all the officials were corrupted, I turned to my Grad. Students' Union. They, literally, held the key to the justice. They betrayed me. This part of my story deserves a book.

Is it possible to have a reference to my case on your site as a permanent feature? Under Human Rights? This thing is not over yet. I am 66 years old, but I have forced myself to fight.

Michael Pyshnov.

Guest said...

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon's comment on isolating the race issue from the fraud issue in the Pyshnov case is very wise and brave.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Although the racial comments made by Pyshnov cast a shadow upon his character at this point, those who are targets of institutionalized injustice and bullying can be driven to irrational behavior. It is a separate issue from the behavior of the University and the professors toward this researcher and the ensuing unforgiveable damages to the integrity of scientific research and education.