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An engineering student at the University of Nevada, Reno has started a petition urging Erick Jones, dean of the College of Engineering, to resign from his current position after research articles of his have arisen with questionable content.

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. Following the article, students and internet sleuths have dug up more articles with dubious content. Some found articles consisting of only seven sentences, multiple duplicates of articles published in different volumes and very short peer review processes for all articles.

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. 

Jones previously responded to The Sagebrush with a revised version of his original comment he posted in response to the blog.

The petition not only calls for his resignation, but also for UNR to conduct a review of their hiring processes to “ensure that senior faculty are held to at least the same standards of academic integrity as are undergraduate students.”

“The students of the University of Nevada are intelligent and hardworking; they rightly expect competence and honesty from the people overseeing their studies,” says the petition. “It is clear on the basis of the work to which he willingly puts his name that Dean Jones lacks either the competence or the honesty to execute his office as well as [the University of Nevada, Reno] deserves.”

Joseph Dailey, an engineering graduate student at UNR and former undergraduate at the university, started the petition after seeing coverage of the recent controversy and out of concern for the legitimacy of his degree.

“It’s regrettable that we’re in this position to begin with, but it represents an opportunity,” Dailey said. “Evidently there are blind spots in academic politics, in the peer review process and in UNR’s implementation of administrative policy. The best time to start addressing these would have been years ago; the second-best time is now.”

Currently, 196 people have signed the petition, including students and faculty members within the engineering department; The Nevada Sagebrush has confirmed the legitimacy of these claims.

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