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View Diary: My E-mail to Harvard (33 comments)

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  •  If I may reply... (8+ / 0-)

    I do not believe that rewarding Ivy-league doctorates falls under the umbrella of academic freedom.

    If a student wanted to write a dissertation in biology defending creationism as scientific fact, we can rest assured that 99.9% of the time, no responsible mentor or academic committee would go along with that, and the student would not receive a doctorate.  But let's imagine that the student hand-picks a committee of people he knows will be either sympathetic or complacent, or wish to somehow discredit the institution.  This does not automatically validate the content of that dissertation as worthy of a doctorate in science, and it would clearly call into question whether those faculty should retain the right to grant THE UNIVERSITY'S official endorsement to the student's work.

    I am a professor, and I have to be periodically re-evaluated for my suitability to chair or participate in graduate committees.  We are expected to publish, etc.  The university has a clear responsibility to monitor the "products" that it produces -- graduates bearing their name as alma mater and research bearing their name as the affiliation.

    Academic freedom is not synonymous with a lack of standards or criteria.  It is meant to protect the freedom to investigate issues without external pressure or censorship, even if the research is unpopular.  In the present case, the only valid recourse is to have other experts read the thesis and determine whether it was actually valid scholarly work.  This can be done, just like peer review for grants or papers.  If the vast consensus of the field is that this was a hand-picked committee that violated their implicit agreement with the university to maintain the standards of their field, their actions are not clearly protected under academic freedom.  It's fraud, and the Ph.D. would not be considered valid.  

    By way of analogy, scientists who are discovered faking data have occasionally had their Ph.D.'s rescinded, even from years ago.  That happens because the school can no longer trust that their process was faithfully followed.  That can happen with a committee process as well.

    "There's a lot you can do with a hypnotized chicken." -7.50; -6.21

    by sgoldinger on Wed May 08, 2013 at 09:56:23 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  The department chair usually needs to sign off (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Villanova Rhodes

      on the composition of the dissertation committee members.  Then a university research review committee may need to approve it as well.  

      If the research used falsified data or was otherwise fraudulent, then the awarding of the degree can still be rescinded.  Otherwise, not much.

      •  And your point is? (0+ / 0-)

        It's apparent that you love the sound of your own authoritative voice.

        JC!  Have they not taught you to make your point clearly in whatever academic program that you slogged your way through?

        Nothing worth noting at the moment.

        by Bonsai66 on Wed May 08, 2013 at 10:36:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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