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French physicist accused of plagiarism seems set to lose prestigious job | Science | AAAS 08/04/17 22:20

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Klein says any mistakes were due to carelessness LIONEL
16 or negligence, not a conscious desire to plagiarize. BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty
Image

French physicist accused of


plagiarism seems set to lose
prestigious job
By Martin Enserink Apr. 6, 2017 , 10:30 AM

tienne Klein, a celebrated French physicist and


popularizer of science, seems set to lose his post as
president of the Institute for Advanced Studies for Science
and Technology (IHEST) in Paris after allegations that he
plagiarized more than a dozen scientists, philosophers, and
writers in books and articles. A source at Frances science
and education ministry yesterday conrmed to
ScienceInsider that a decree ending Kleins tenure has
been signed by Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem and State
Advertisement
Secretary Thierry Mandon and is now awaiting the
signature of French President Franois Hollande.

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French physicist accused of plagiarism seems set to lose prestigious job | Science | AAAS 08/04/17 22:20

But Klein says he refuses to leave. In an open letter


published last week, he wrote that an investigative panel
that looked into the matter at Mandons request has found
no evidence of misconduct and that he sees no reason to
step down. My scientic integrity is absolute, Klein wrote
to ScienceInsider in an email. The report has not been
made public.

Klein leads a small group studying science itself at the


Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission
(CEA) near Paris, but rarely publishes in the scientic
literature; his fame stems from books and articles in
popular magazines, mostly about physics. He also hosts a
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weekly radio show about science. Hollande appointed
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In November, the weekly magazine LExpress reported
that Klein had copied passages from French and 2. Is dark energy an illusion?

foreign authorsincluding mile Zola, Stefan Zweig, and


Bertrand Russellin a recent biography of Albert Einstein 3. Are some wolves being redomesticated into
dogs?
and in several other publications. Klein defended some of
the instances but admitted he had made mistakes in
4. Plastic makes up nearly 70% of all ocean litter
others; a few days later, LExpress published seven more
examples of alleged plagiarism, to which Klein has not 5. Mutations may reveal how Tibetans can live on
responded. worlds highest plateau

CEA has not investigated the matter. Although the agency


features a list of Kleins books about science and time Sifter
on its website, a spokesperson says Klein wrote the
disputed publications on his own time, not as a CEA
researcher. This is a private matter, the spokesperson
says.

Thats why Mandon asked an independent four-member


panel chaired by Michel Cosnard, president of the French
High Council for Evaluation of Research and Higher
Education (HCERES), to investigate the accusations.
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Cosnard says the commission nished its work late
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January and presented its report to Mandon. Then nothing
APR. 7, 2017
happened for almost 2 monthsuntil Klein published his Your saunas got nothing on
open letter on 29 March. this planet
APR. 7, 2017
In the letter, he quoted a few paragraphs from the report in
which the commission said it had not found ethical
breaches in Kleins work for CEA, and that it was not
competent, and hadnt been asked to judge whether Klein Octopuses can completely
remodel their own genetic
committed plagiarism in the legal sense. Nonetheless, the material
commission recommended that he step down from IHEST, APR. 7, 2017
Klein wrote, so as not to cause diculties for the institute
and its important missions. Klein says he has no intention
of doing so. I dont want to be judged by the press, but Study about nothing
highlights the perils of
according to the criteria of French law, he wrote in an predatory publishing
email. APR. 6, 2017

Cosnard says he cant discuss the report; he says he hopes


A !shy way to longevity:

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French physicist accused of plagiarism seems set to lose prestigious job | Science | AAAS 08/04/17 22:20

A !shy way to longevity:


Mandon will make it public. But he conrms that the panel young poo
did not wade into the issue of whether Kleins reuse of APR. 5, 2017
other writers broke any laws. Klein came to the
commission with his lawyer, he says. Were not judges,
were not the police. Were just four academics. More Sifter

Klein says that his book about Einstein contains more than
120 attributed quotes as well, which proves that I have no
problem with quoting someone. What I am being blamed
for is due to carelessness or negligence, especially in my
le management, not to a conscious desire to plagiarize.

In a story published last week, LExpress speculates that


Kleins open letter may have been a last-ditch eort to
avert his dismissal or delay a decision until after the
upcoming elections, in the hope that a new president
might save him. But Klein says hes not aware of any
decision to re him. He says he went public because he
had expected the commission to publicly rearm his
scientic integrity. That was a key issue for me, Klein
says. When nothing happened in that regard, I decided to
speak out myself.

As it happens, HCERES will be home to a new French Oce


of Scientic Integrity (OFIS), announced by Mandon on
22 March. Cosnard says it would not have made a
dierence for Kleins case if OFIS had been created earlier;
the agencys mission is to serve as a center of expertise,
debate, and assistance for research institutes, but it wont
investigate individual cases of alleged misconduct such as
Kleins.

Posted in: Europe, People & Events, Scientic Community


DOI: 10.1126/science.aal1011

Martin Enserink
Martin is a contributing news editor and
writer based in Amsterdam
Email Martin Twitter

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French physicist accused of plagiarism seems set to lose prestigious job | Science | AAAS 08/04/17 22:20

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Join the discussion

Blazh Femur a day ago


When confronted with his blatant plagiarism, Klein
denied it all with the quip "I had no need of that
hypothesis", which he lifted from Pierre-Simon Laplace.
1 Reply Share

hinki 2 days ago


Funny article since most of their politicians are
corrupted, their justice system isn't better. All of this
merely reflects the vast majority of french who don't
mind stepping on others. So plagiarism is the least of
their worry... French would not care much than
Congolese about it. Most would not even understand
the problem with it. Knowing the level of morality of the
french, I would rather suspect a basic jealousy or
political beheading behind that extraordinary sense of
concern for honesty.
Reply Share

Philippe Petit > hinki 2 days ago


A too rare example of balanced, clear-eyed,
unbiased, well documented and illuminating

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French physicist accused of plagiarism seems set to lose prestigious job | Science | AAAS 08/04/17 22:20

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