Sixth grader's internet-famous science project may have been plagiarized

Did she even do anything? Like, literally, is any part of her story not Dad? I guess I’m sensitive because I actually know what it is like to have a narcissist for a parent. If I were her I’d stay out of science forever just so that she can do something her parent can’t figure out. Like, change your name, and try your hand at something like accounting.


Is it impossible it’s just parallel discoveries? I’m not sure what the kid “discovered” aside from catching a fish in a place the fish wasn’t supposed to be. It was also more or less her own neighborhood.

It’s possible her father said, “I know of some amazing research you can steal! Your teacher will be none the wiser!” But it’s also possible he said, “I hear there’s some oddball fish in that stream - why not check it out?” Crying plagiarism on a middle school kid without any investigation at all is kind of not cool.

As a teacher and a parent science fair veteran, this is one of those projects that reads to me as “the parent did 99% of this.” I used to live in Pasadena, CA. One of my daughter’s classmates had two parents who worked at CalTech. Her fourth grade project was “Extracting DNA from Plants using Common Household Items”, I kid you not.


From TFP:

Acknowledgement This project was made possible by a close partnership with the Loxahatchee River District. Lauren Arrington (King’s Academy, West Palm Beach, FL) conducted preliminary laboratory experiments that helped give rise to our experimental design.
Jud acknowledges the kid's contribution in his paper...

Yes, that’s a good point. It could be something as simple as how fast water drains through hoses of different lengths and diameters. It might not win a prize, but I’d respect that sort of project if it used good methods.

That’s the follow-up paper, not the original from 2011. It seems the father, who was well aware of the original research as a colleage and (non-technical) co-author of the original paper, is the one who has been hyping his daughter’s work and obscuring the original.

There’s some speculation and overview in this comment from yesterday.


Where did you get that quote from? The acknowledgements in Jud and Layman 2012 don’t mention her:

We would like to thank J. Lee for assistance in thefield and D. Sabinfor creating maps of the study sites. Additionally, we appreciate thecontinued support and cooperation of numerous homeowners alongthe Loxahatchee estuary as well as the Loxahatchee River District. Lion-fish were collected pursuant to Florida Fish and Wildlife ConservationCommission Permit # SAL-09-1118A-SR. Partial funding was providedby NSF OCE #0746164 and OCE #0940019

from @SteampunkBanana’s linked page:
Published Feb 2014.

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That’s only true if you’re actually likable in the first place. I think you need to check your privilege.

Was Lionfish Research Hijacked by 12-Year Old from Palm Beach Florida? | Central Florida Aquarium Society
This seems to have a better summary of the issue and how Jud has tried to engage the authors of some of the articles.

It links to this paper that still says that Jud was inspired by the kid’s research (even after the author was corrected).
Teen shows salty lionfish are getting fresh | Student Science

What privilege? No one likes me.


I think Weatherman means it as in “Who cares if people like you?”

Except life really is easier and better if people like you. So I can totally see why some people would do just about anything to be liked. Oddly enough, people also dislike this behavior though.

People… see, this is why I work with machines.

Nope. Not the way I meant it at all. I meant “just be yourself and people will like you” is only true if you are actually likable. And to expand on what you are saying, being likable often means caring about others, so if being oneself means not thinking about others or what they think, that actually makes one pretty unlikable.

But all of that is really explaining myself too much, when it was really just meant as a joke. Kinda.

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My problem is not lack of scientific originality and transparency in sixth grade projects as such, but you should do your best to keep the hype in proportion to the real value.

The very least they could have done is to acknowledge the prior work once the “discovery” narrative took off. That as far as I can tell they did nothing of that sort makes it very hard to believe that they were acting in good faith.

It is likely that the girl was mostly or wholly the victim in this, but even then she has to understand that it doesn’t work like this and that at best she has been manipulated and betrayed by her own father.

Why are science journalists are gleefully attacking a 12-year-old for claiming credit? Shouldn’t they be attacking themselves for being too lazy and stupid to google “lionfish salinity,” which immediately brings up the original research?


The internet was wrong?

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One sad thing about this mess is that, while her dad clearly knew about the prior work, she might have honestly believed it was her own original discovery. She might have had the idea independently, or her dad might have nudged her in that direction without spelling it out for her explicitly.


Take that you little dipshit kid! Learn to peer review! BOOM! IN YO FACE!!!


I’d “like” this comment if it was from anyone but you.


If only my parents had the power to delete their comments before I heard them.

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