Nevada Board of Regents leaders have said that they will not be investigating allegations of plagiarism on the part of the Nevada System of Higher Education concerning a think tank’s report.
A statement released earlier this week by Brookings Mountain West co-directors Mark Muro and Robert Lang said they consider the matter closed and do not want the question of academic integrity to get in the way of policy.
“We agree with the fundamental points raised by Drs. Muro and Lang which are consistent with an initial internal review, namely, that while this could have certainly been handled better, the critical focus must remain on policy,” the statement by Regent Chairman Kevin Page and Vice Chairman Rick Trachok says.
The issue began over a report given to higher education officials by the think tank to use for background information that ended up being used verbatim without giving any credit to the authors. During a presentation by a system official to an interim legislative committee last June in an effort to create a multimillion-dollar grant program that would be used to aid in improving the state’s workforce through the STEM industries of science, technology, engineering and math, Brookings’ material appears to have been swiped.
The investigation was not finished by Brookings until November, finding large chunks of identical wording, although with “meaningful differences” in the proposals.
While Brookings suggests $5 million for the program, the NSHE puts it at $3.5 million. The two groups also differ in their ideas of who would control the money. While Brookings would like to see local redevelopment agencies controlling grant funds, the NSHE suggests the creation of a council of representatives from various agencies, writes Bethany Barnes for The Las Vegas Review-Journal.
“The Board of Regents has acknowledged Brookings and Brookings Mountain West as key partners in advancing good policy for Nevada and beyond,” the statement said. “The Board has embraced the STEM Challenge Grant concept which was advanced by the important work of Brookings and looks forward to working with Brookings to see that this critical proposal is funded in the upcoming session of the Legislature.”
Because they were both submitted in the same month, there could end up being two similar, yet still competing, bill draft requests at the legislature in 2015.
Although the issue appears to be settled, faculty and students in Nevada have expressed their desire for answers, saying, “You don’t plagiarize when you identify the author.”
“If there is any ambiguity as to whether or not something was ethical, I think NSHE needs to review its own policies to include the chancellor,” UNLV senior and former student government senator Alex Murdock said after news of the plagiarism and intellectual property theft allegations broke earlier this month.