Update 11:57 p.m. on Feb. 8
Jessica Lozada, a communications officer for the university told the Sagebrush that they are aware of the allegations.
“We take such claims seriously, and it is standard practice for the University to review and investigate, which we are currently in the process of doing,” Lozada said via email.
Dozens of academic research papers from Erick Jones, dean of the College of Engineering, have circulated online that are “so bad, you can’t believe it.”
This comes after a blog post was published by Andrew Gelman, a statistics and political science professor at Columbia University, who commented on the “empty jargon” present in the studies.
The main paper in question by Gelman is titled “Using Science to Minimize Sleep Deprivation that may reduce Train Accidents,” listing Jones as one of the four authors and was published in the International Supply Chain Technology Journal in 2022. Many red flags were raised by Gelman and subsequently the academic community on X, formerly known as Twitter: the paper consisted of only one page, two paragraphs and no citations and the peer review process took only 15 days.
Jones was hired as dean of the College of Engineering in 2022 and previously served as the senior science advisor in the Office of the Chief Economist at the U.S. State Department and was a former professor and the associate dean for Graduate Studies at the College of Engineering at The University of Texas at Arlington.
Upon the publication of Gelman’s article, many took to X to further investigate the claims, calling Jones an “academic fraud”. Internet sleuths pointed out ISCTJ has two websites: one of which lists him as Editor-in-Chief, while the other lists his son Erick Jones Jr. as a board member.
In a response to The Nevada Sagebrush, Gelman stated he denies Jones is a fraud or is involved in anything fraudulent, he is just “baffled” at the situation.
“I have no idea what is going on. This is one of the most bizarre academic stories I’ve ever hear[d],” said Gelman in a response to the Sagebrush. “Just to be clear, I’m not saying there is any fraud here.”
Gelman is unaware of what requirements a dean’s position at the University of Nevada, Reno or the College of Engineering’s research qualifications are, if any.
“What disturbed me is that some of his papers are so bad that it’s incomprehensible to me how they could be associated with a dean of engineering at a flagship state university, or a dean of engineering anywhere,” Gelman told The Sagebrush. “I was not saying that Dr. Jones’s research has not been sufficient for his job.”
Additionally, the majority of Jones’s publications per his Google Scholar have been through ISCTJ and the content raises the same alarms as the original article in question: little substance in the paper and a short turnaround time. Even further investigation pointed out Jones publishing almost identical articles in two separate issues of ISCTJ with the same authors, but separate review and publication dates.
Allegations of plagiarism have also surfaced, one X user saying Jones “took an existing published paper, added his name to it, and proceeded to republish the exact same article 3 more times.”
In another example, a commenter on the blog post cited an article titled “Working Towards Sustainable Net Neutral Critical Mineral Supply Chains” with seven sentences that was authored by five people, including Jones.
“What’s amazing is that any of the five listed authors of this paper must have had the ability to write something at least half coherent on the topic … But they couldn’t even be bothered to do that, ” Gelman commented in reply to this user. “The whole thing is just so damn weird.”
Jones replied to the allegations in the comment section of Gelman’s blog post claiming Gelman’s assessment of the work was “unjust”; he said he “gave up” being editor of the journal a “few years back,” but is still the initial founder and editor of the publication, as well as an investor.
“The journal is peer reviewed and it was designed initially for more American supply chain practitioners, researchers and undergraduate students in applied application labs to publish with faculty, from internships and class papers on applied engineering activities that are related to supply chain technologies,” said Jones.
Furthermore, Jones admonished Gelman for his “crucifixion” and “hatchet job”, stating he does not use the work published in ISCTJ on his resume and has several textbooks and articles “more accepted” in the field.
Gelman further stood his ground in a comment back to Jones, his criticism directed towards UNR administration and not UNR faculty, or the university as a whole.
“It is a criticism of some aspect of the UNR administration in which the dean of engineering is running a journal that is publishing junk papers by himself and others,” said Gelman in his response. “If I were a student I would not be happy that this is where my tuition is going.”
Jones responded to The Sagebrush with a revised version of his original comment he posted in response to the blog.
UNR officials were reached out to for comment, but The Sagebrush did not receive an immediate response.
Correction as of Feb. 7 at 11:30 p.m.: Erick Jones was not listed as an editorial board member, but rather his son Erick Jones Jr.
This is a developing story please check back for updates.