Friday, February 12, 2016

The UT case

I have been remiss in not covering the UT-Austin kerfluffle resulting from a Organic Letters retraction that resulted in UT-Austin's attempted revocation of a Ph.D. Here's a small portion of the Austin American-Statesman article about it: 
A woman who graduated from the University of Texas with a Ph.D. in chemistry has filed suit for the second time in an effort to keep the university from revoking her degree. 
Suvi Orr, who received her doctorate in 2008, first sued UT in February 2014 after school administrators informed her that “scientific misconduct occurred in the production of your dissertation,” including “falsified and misreported data.” 
Now a plaintiff identified as “S.O.” has sued UT in state District Court in Travis County. Although the lawsuit refers to the plaintiff by those initials for privacy protections under federal law, the circumstances of the case leave no doubt that she is Orr. 
The lawsuit, filed Thursday, said UT officials revoked her degree but promptly reinstated it for “a do-over” during the first round of litigation. The suit contends that UT now plans to subject her to a “kangaroo court” whose members include undergraduate students lacking the expertise to interpret scientific data stemming from her research involving synthesis of chemicals.
There's a lot of discussion in the comments, both at Retraction Watch (who has been covering this case for a while) and at In the Pipeline.

It is certainly surprising that UT went to the trouble of revoking a doctorate; I would presume such extraordinary action must have some extraordinary evidence behind it, but beats me, I guess.

What is also surprising to me is the apparent willingness of both of these parties to involve their respective lawyers. I guess that it makes sense from Dr. Orr's perspective - it is the foundation of her career. But why is UT fighting this so hard? Why attempt revocation for a second time? 

1 comment:

  1. It's saying a lot that when I first read the title, I thought of a different UT Austin case, although that one was just a retraction.