A plagiarised edtech book and nobody cares

Some of my regular readers might remember that I have reported a case of AI-supported plagiarism in a book on learning analytics which has been published in German last year see original post here. One of our papers has been plagiarized by a team of authors who have published a book in German on “Educational Data Mining and Learning Analytics”. Here I report about what has happened since I have reported the case.

First of all, I would like to publish the material which I have been using as a basis for my complaint against a. the authors, b. the publisher and c. Dublin City University as affiliated institution of the authors and d. peer researchers whose work has been potentially plagiarized.

The first document is a presentation I have given during an online meeting on 20. July 2023 with Springer Nature representatives. It shows the Springer code of conduct for book authors and uses COPE guidelines to evaluate the plagiarism case and provides examples of text from the book chapter. All parties have received this presentation.

Slides from presentation to Springer Nature on 20. July 2023

In addition, I have provided to all parties a full analysis of the text which has been plagiarized on the book chapter. For this I have retranslated the German text with DeepL and marked to similar text passages.

Full analysis of text similarity from original text and translated text

Next I will summarize how each party has reacted to the case.

  1. Communication with the authors. My initial approach was to contact the editors/authors of the book to see how they are seeing their responsibility and breach of publication ethics. Besides that fact that only one of the authors has seen the need to communicate, the only argument was that it was all a project with Springer and that Springer is responsible for the text that has been produced. There was no awareness that publication ethics are an individual responsibility for researchers. The authors have not taken any action to withdraw or correct any word from the book. Furthermore, some authors have listed the chapters a their original publication in GoogleScholar.

  2. Communication with Springer. I have been talking to Springer Nature and the VP content innovation in an online-meeting. This team has accepted all the things which have gone wrong and they promised to work on that. While they initially offered an erratum, the VP Content Innovation has communicated in an E-Mail to me on 18. September 2023 that a retraction process for this book has been initiated. I had also filed an official complaint via the contact form of Springer Nature about the plagiarism and have never received any reply (not even a confirmation of the request!). Since several months had passed without any action I had contacted the VP again and he informed me in an E-Mail on 13 October 2023 that the case was analysed by “research integrity specialists and I can report that after careful consideration they found that there was not sufficient evidence to support a claim of plagiarism by the editors. There was no misappropriation by the editors of intellectual property used in the machine-generated book and there was no absence of attribution to the originators of intellectual property used in the machine-generated book”. That was the end of the communication and there have not been any changes to the book.

  3. Communication with Dublin City University. On 20 September 2023 I have contact the Vice President for Research at Dublin City University and he promised to address this issue directly. After sending a monthly reminder I have only received excuse E-Mails and my latest request for an update has been ignored. DCU has not documented any action after I have reported the case and I have not received any information about the procedure which they are following.

  4. Communication with peers. After documenting the case I have informed other authors via E-Mail and also marked many on LinkedIn to raise awareness about the case. Nobody of the other authors has reacted or got in contact with me.

What is the conclusion of this? My only conclusion is hat nobody really cares about principles of publication ethics and that all rules related to plagiarism can be streched as it pleases publishers and plagiarists. I am deeply disappointend that also nobody of my colleagues cares for this and I can´t understand why.

Marco Kalz
Marco Kalz
Professor of Educational Technology

My research interests is on open education, pervasive technologies and formative assessment to support (lifelong) learning and knowledge construction.