Genius’s doctorate faces a delay over plagiarism

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Genius’s doctorate faces a delay over plagiarism

Song Yoo-geun, a 17-year-old prodigy who was to become the youngest Korean to be awarded a Ph.D. degree, will not be able to achieve a doctorate next February due to a plagiarism problem by his co-author.

The Astrophysical Journal, an international research journal, announced Wednesday it will retract the publication of Song’s dissertation, which was co-authored by Dr. Park Seok-jae, a professor at the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI), which is part of the University of Science and Technology (UST) in Daejeon, where Song has studied for his doctorate.

As his dissertation entitled “Axisymmetric, Nonstationary Black Hole Magnetospheres: Revisited” passed a screening on Nov. 17, Song was expected to be awarded a doctorate at the age of 18 years and three months next February.

UST specifies that students should publish at least one dissertation in journals admitted by the Science Citation Index (SCI), a database of some 3,700 scientific papers by the Institute for Scientific Information, in order to graduate.

The journal cancelled publication of Song’s dissertation about black holes and cosmology because it reproduced passages from a presentation Park made at a conference in 2002 and published in the journal Black Hole Astrophysics without annotation.

In online communities, a number of netizens posted pictures of the dissertation and the conference presentation to show their similarities.

In an urgent press conference Wednesday, Park said it was totally his fault that he did not include an annotation for the passages or cited his earlier presentation in the bibliography.

“I thought citing a conference presentation without annotation was not problematic since it is different from a research paper,” Park said. “I sincerely apologize for the fault and feel really sorry for Song.

“Although Song’s graduation was postponed, Song and I will focus on doing new research to enhance the quality of a new dissertation,” he added.

BY KIM BANG-HYUN [koo.yurim@joongang.co.kr]

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