Legal basis for prosecuting plagiarism in FP7 grant proposals

Seventh Framework Programme Decision N° 1982/2006/EC), Article 6 (1)
« All the research activities carried out under the Seventh Framework Programme shall be carried out in compliance with fundamental ethical principles. »

Rules for Participation, Article 10
« A proposal […] which contravenes fundamental ethical principles […] shall not be selected . Such a proposal may be excluded from the evaluation and selection procedures at any time. »

Some citations from Karen Markin

Karen M.  Markin  “Plagiarism in Grant Proposals” The Chronicle of Higher Education  December 10, 2012

“That variety of research misconduct is a growing problem, according to federal experts I talk with in my work as a university grant officer. The National Science Foundation, in its most recent “Agency Financial Report,” said allegations of plagiarism and data fabrication in grant proposals and reports had more than tripled during the previous 10 years. Agencies take such misconduct seriously because their reputations are on the line when they finance the research.”

“And it’s not just young scholars who need to take that lesson to heart. Plagiarism in grant proposals is happening among academics at all levels of experience, from assistant professors to seasoned full professors.”

“Government agencies generally define plagiarism as the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit. It is prohibited by federal regulations.”

“In one incident reported by the NSF, a program officer said plagiarized text in a grant proposal had influenced his decision to support the work, “which meant the plagiarism amounted to fraud” and thus was a crime. The NSF referred the case to an assistant U.S. attorney, who ultimately declined to pursue it in light of the administrative penalties that had been imposed against the scholar.”

The gem of plagiarising using “interdisciplinary research”

 There are serious issues ofresearch malpractice with the paper

 J.E Rowe., M. Vose, A. Wright “State aggregation and population dynamics in linear systems” Artificial Life, Vol 11, no. 4, pages 473-492., 2005

which relate to plagiarism.

Below are a few aspects of malpractice. Please help us to identify more of them!

The authors claim that they are presenting a new method for state aggregation of discrete state space systems (modelling population dynamics), which are nothing else but discrete Markov chains.

The paper contains a sophisticated rewording of existing research topics and mathematical
 results based on a simple, known mathematical characterisation of Markov chains. In functional

analysis, these are characterised using linear operators on the linear space of absolute state

probabilities. Consequently, the authors re-worded the Markov chains as “linear systems” and

then borrowed, without appropriate citations, topics and results from various branches of

mathematics and Markov models verification via abstraction (also reworded as aggregation or

coarse graining).
In the the pages 481-484, the authors introduce the symmetry group and the symmetry reduction method (with definitions, results and proofs) without absolutely no citation. These are concepts that have been intensively studied in algebra but which are not common background. As presented, the authors induce the idea of a new development.

There is no mention of the fact that the concepts of  “state aggregation” and “lumpability” are synonyms. As expected, there is no reference regarding lumpability of Markov chains  For example, people working in this area of research cite the celebrated book of  John Kemeny and Laurie Snell
       “Finite Markov Chains” Springer Verlag 1960 8 pages
    The authors propose a method for aggregating the states of Markov chains  using their associated symmetry groupsIn fact,.this method is is a plagiarised version of the very old method called “symmetry reduction of probabilistic systems”. The latest represents a very well studied method not for both the discrete stochastic processes and the continuous ones. A relevant reference is the 1990 paper of J. Glover and J. Mitro
“Symmetries and Functions of Markov Processes” The Annals of Probability 18(2): 655-668.

See also th 1982 paper of   P. Hanggi, H. Thomas:
“Stochastic Processes: Time Evolution, Symmetries and Linear Response”.   Physics Reports 88 (4) 207-319.

There are also uncited sources from computer science, like Prof. Peter  Buchholz.Habilitation thesis from February 1996:
“A framework for the hierarchical analysis of discrete event dynamic systems” University of Dortmund.

The list below contains closely related publications that the ethical authors should have been cited. This is because in the publication context, the state aggregation is a method explicitly used in model checking and verification.
The ethical research practice asks the authors to discuss the similarities and the differences between their approach and these very closely related publications. Perhaps a deeper analysis will reveal that some papers from the uncited literature were used as source.

A. Donaldson and A. Miller, “Automatic symmetry detection for model checking using computational group theory,” in J. Fitzgerald, I. Hayes, and A. Tarlecki, Eds. “Proc. of FM 2005: Formal Methods” Springer Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol. 3582, pp. 631–631, 2005.

E. Emerson and T. Wahl, “Dynamic symmetry reduction,” in N. Halbwachs and L. Zuck, Eds “Tools and Algorithms for the Construction and Analysis of Systems” Springer’s Lecture Notes in Computer Science,   vol. 3440, pp. 382–396, 2005,

P. Buchholz. “A heuristic approach for the aggregation of Markovian submodels” In: B. Walke, O. Spaniol (eds.) Proc. MMB’93, Springer Informatik aktuell. (1993) 117-129.

E. A. Emerson and A. P. Sistla, “Symmetry and model checking,” In Formal Methods in System Design, vol. 9, pp. 105–131, 1996.  

M. Kuntz and K. Lampka “Probabilistic methods in state space analysis,” in H. Hermanns, J.-P. Katoen, C. Baier, B. Haverkort, and M. Siegle, Eds. “Validation of Stochastic Systems, Springer Lecture Notes in Computer Science vol. 2925, pp. 251–266, 2004,

  E. A. Emerson, J. W. Havlicek and R. J. Trefler “Virtual symmetry reduction,” Proceedings of the 15th Annual IEEE Symposium on Logic in Computer Science, pp. 121–131, 2000.

 C. Norris and D. Dill “Better verification through symmetry,” Formal Methods in System Design, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 41–75, 1996.

P. Buchholz. “Hierarchical Markovian models -symmetries and aggregation”
Performance Evaluation 22, 1995, 93-110 (Pre-version in R. Pooley, J. Hillston (eds.). Proc. Sixth International Conference on Modelling Techniques and Tools for Computer Performance Evaluation, Edinburgh University Press (1992) 305-319)

P. Buchholz. “Aggregation and reduction techniques for hierarchical GCSPNs.”
In: Proc. 5th Int. Workshop on Petri Nets and Performance Models (PNPM’93), IEEE CS-Press (1993) 216-225.

 E. Clarke, E. Emerson, S. Jha, and A. Sistla, “Symmetry reductions in model checking,”
in Proceedings of Computer Aided Verification, A. Hu and M. Vardi, Eds., vol. 1427.
Springer, 1998, pp. 147–158.

 E. Emerson and R. Trefler, “From asymmetry to full symmetry: New techniques for
     symmetry reduction in model checking,” Correct Hardware Design and Verification
     Methods, pp. 704–704, 1999.

 A. P. Sistla, V. Gyuris, and E. A. Emerson, “SMC: A symmetry-based model checker
for verification of safety and liveness properties,” ACM Transactions on Software En-
gineering and Methodology, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 133–166, 2000.

 Dragan Bosnaki, D. Dams, and L. Holenderski, “Symmetric Spin,” International Journal on Software Tools for Technology Transfer, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 92–106, 2002.

A. F. Donaldson, A. Miller and Muffy Calder, “Finding symmetry in models of concurrent systems by static channel diagram analysis,” Electronic Notes in Theoretical Computer Science, vol. 128, no. 6, pp. 161–177, 2005.

 E. Emerson and T. Wahl, “On combining symmetry reduction and symbolic representation for efficient model checking,” in Correct Hardware Design and Verification Methods, ser. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, D. Geist and E. Tronci, Eds. Springer
     Berlin / Heidelberg, 2003, vol. 2860, pp. 216–230.

An example of plagiarism by systematic renaming of concepts

 The pearl of plagiarism by rewording/renaming can be found in the publication of J.E. Row, Vose, M.D. and Wright, A.H.:

 “Differentiable coarse graining” Theoretical Computer Science vol.361, pages 111-129, 2006

This is a paper with claimed mathematical novelty published in a known journal in computer science. In fact, the authors borrowed without giving credit research from the theory of dynamical systems and presented it to the computer scientists as their own new theory.

This is an example of unscrupulous plagiarism. The authors simply renamed as “coarse graining” the classical concept of morphism of dynamical systems. Please compare their definition of coarse graining with the following definitions.
“Definition 1. (Morphisms)
    1.    A morphism \phi: (X,T) \to (Y,S) between two dynamical systems is a map \phi: X \to Y which intertwines T and S in the sense that S \circ \phi = \phi \circ T.”
and from Jon Jaquette “Category Theory . Pertaining to Dynamical Systems ” May 16, 2009
    “We can construct a category of dynamical systems. This category of dynamical systems has objects which are dynamical systems; all objects are sets with an attached endomorphism. The arrows between objects in this category are required to commute with the endomaps, i.e. if the dynamical systems (X, α) and (Y, β) are in our category, then f : X ? Y is allowed iff α ◦ f = f ◦ β. [1, p.152,164] Requiring f to be isomorphic and continuous produces a category of homeomorphic dynamical systems. ”
In the light of the last definitions, don’t you think that the authors should have cited thefollowing publications as well?

Boris Mitavskiy “Comparing Evolutionary Computation Techniques via Their Representation.” Proceedings of the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO-2003)

Boris Mitavskiy “A Category Theoretic Method for Comparing Evolutionary Computation Techniques via Their Representation”. Proceedings of the 15th European Summer School in Logic Language and Information (ESSLLI-2003)

Where to report malpractice in European funded projects?

Officially, it is the Olaf dealing with such issues:


Some public OLAF contacts are:

Ms. Petra KNEUER

Snail mail


Directorate A




or the OLAF investigators

    Mr    D. MOLS


    Mr    T. ROEGLIN




DG funded project Hieratic

 Hieratic -Hierarchical Analysis of Complex Dynamical Systems – is a DG Connect funded project (via FET). It started in November 2012 and it should run for three years. It worths almost two and a half millions pounds. The project has six principal investigators: four of them are English, and three of them are from the University of Birmingham. The project is managed by Jon Rowe from Birmingham.
On the administrative side, the project was accepted by FET as result of a specific call in complexity science called Dynamics of Multi-Level Complex Systems (DyM-CS). The project officer is also a Brit: Mr. Julian Ellis. The project reviewers are from Poland and Spain: Józef Sienkiewicz (Gdansk) and Pedro Jurado Real (Seville).
On the scientific side, the project is multidisciplinary. It mixes themes,concepts and subjects from complexity science (hierarchical complex systems, coarse graining), mathematics (dynamical systems, networks theory, graph theory, stochastic processes), computer science (formal verification, process algebra),  artificial intelligence (genetic algorithms, multi-agent systems), software engineering (computer simulation, open source software such as Mason and Prism), ecology, chemistry, bioinformatics

Obvious problems with the project:
1. The immense aggrandising: a team of only six people pretend to be expert in so many scientific disciplines
2. Deliberate deceit: there is nowhere to find any explanation or tutorial in multi-disciplinary context. The inherent confusions are exploited both in the proposal and in the project deliverables and the project webpage.
3. All project documents contain very little references, despite the huge relevant or very closely related work. The proposal contains only while one deliverable contains only one reference!

The expert viewpoints on the project
1. The project visibly discriminates entire categories of workers, such as women and senior researchers. No member of such categories has found a role within the project.
1. The proposal is a massive case of misconduct. It contains all known forms of misconduct: plagiarism, falsification, fabrication and author misrepresentation.
2. The plagiarism is record breaking in respect with the number of plagiarised sources. This was possible by a systematic rewording of the major research ideas and concepts from the literature. An example: the systematic deceit based on the rich synonymity of the concept of “coarse graining”.
3. Some deliverables contain plagiarism as well (self-plagiarism)
4. The intention to deceive is very easy provable. There is no case of honest error and no extenuating circumstances. This a cold blooded and meticulously engineered research fraud.
5. The project significant funding for salaries, promising to hire senior researchers in computer science. Instead, they hired only junior researchers, like PhD students and fresh postodocs. The difference has gone into the Pis salaries.
6. One reason for complete rejection of women by the project management might be the fact that they are more difficult to suppress as whistle-blowers of misconduct.









FET Call Dym-CS

Professor Jeffrey Johnson from Open University, UK

is co-author of the Call’s Expert Consultation Report
             Jeffrey Johnson, Paul Bourgine, David Hales  “Expert Consultation Report” December 2009 FET Proactive Commission

               of the European Communities, Information Society and Media  16 pages

and a principal investigator of project TOPDRIM funded by the call:

Isn’t this a conflict of Interest? Thus malpractice?

Please share your opinions on this matter!


Malpractice Majordomo



Forum for collaborative detection of malpractice in research

Uncover Malpractice

We do not the cheaters become our leaders! If we keep quit, the offenders won’t stop. On the contrary, they will get more courage. Together we can prove their acts!

Please post any information you have about a potential case of misconduct! Please reply with any additional piece of evidence you can find!

The allegations from this website have been made in good faith and without any intent to affect anyone’s reputation. The evidences are provided on the basis of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

“All members of our academic community have the obligation to report potential misconduct and to cooperate in the investigation of such behaviour.”  Office of Research Integrity

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