Sunday, 22 January 2023

The "De Roucy" Hours?

In The Book of Hours of Louis De Roucy (RECEPTIO Academic Press, 2022), Prof. Rossi writes:

"What is noticeable in this manuscript, apart from the constant presence of owls in the borders, is the heraldic shield of its first owner. It appears with an unusual insistence, on average every ten pages, at least six times in the retrieved leaves, depicting a blue lion on a field of gold, Or a lion azure armed and langued gules (Fig. 8 et seq.)" (p. 22):

Figs. 8a-8f reproduce these six shields:

But in my blogpost here, I described the background as silver (argent) not gold (or), and note examples of French families that bore these arms:

I also provided a close-up detail of one example from the manuscript:

Saturday, 14 January 2023

The RECEPTIO-Rossi Affair, Part VIII: Independent Fact-Checkers

I am very aware that there are many people who are not on Twitter, and are therefore not up-to-date with the recent revelations in this ongoing saga. I have not posted anything new here since 29 December, partly because the minutiae may not interest most people, and partly because it would be too time-consuming to report everything that has happened. 

But it seems worth writing a new post now, because of an article published online yesterday by Peter Burger, of the Dutch fact-checking website 'News Checkers' , based at Leiden University (nieuwscheckers.nl). It is in Dutch, but Google Translate and Deepl both do a very good job of translating it into English (and, I assume, other languages).

I recommend that you read the whole article, but the "headline" revelation is that a 40-page article about Michelangelo's poetry, published in 2017 by Rossi in an online Journal of which she was "Editor in Chief", and re-distributed by her as her own work on her university website, her Academia.edu page, and her Researchgate page, is very largely copied from an article published in 2004 by Matteo Residori, an Italian scholar writing in French, now of the Sorbonne Nouvelle University.

According to the Dutch analysis, 77% of Rossi's 2017 text came from Residori's 2004 publication, and another 6% from a French scholar's work, published in 2007.

In response to this revelation, Rossi published on her Academia.edu page an image, supposedly showing an earlier version of the Michelangelo article, in which due credit is given to Residori (in red) and her own name does not appear:

[Source (archived copy)]

Needless to say, she does not cite her source for this image. Even if it does come from an earlier version of her original online publication, this does not change the fact that Residori's work is not acknowledged in this way in any of the other archived versions of the online publication, which all look like this:

[Source]

Residori's name also does not appear in the versions of the article uploaded by Rossi to her various personal and institutional websites:


Despite the concrete evidence that she has distributed this article on at least four different websites, without citing the original author in any of them, Rossi writes on her Academia.edu page:
"Qualques [sic] imbéciles, dans sa chasse aux sorcières lancée par Peter Kidd et poursuivie par des crétins sur Twitter, a cru trouver un plagiat dans cet article, auquel manque l'en-tête paru dans le magazine."
She may think that Twitter is populated only by "imbéciles" and "crétins", but it is worth emphasising that I had no part in the most recent revelations, which were entirely the result of investigations by an independent and highly-respected fact-checking organisation.




[EDIT 15 January 2023: Matteo Residori is Italian, not French as I had written in the original version of this blogpost; I have now corrected this]


Thursday, 5 January 2023

The RECEPTIO-Rossi Affair, Part I: The Staff [re-posting, with edits]

[6 Jan. 2023: Google deleted the previous version of this page, so I have removed the parts that were presumably the source of a complaint, and tried to tidy it up in other ways. The old version is archived online elsewhere]

lot happened yesterday [Christmas Day], mainly on Twitter, but also on Hacker News, on Academia.edu, and some in private emails (there are more revelations in store if I can get permission to share some private info!).

I know that there are many people who have good reasons not to be on Twitter, especially under its current (mis-)management, so this blog is an attempt to summarise recent revelations.

I am not a very sophisticated user of Twitter (I don't follow many people, and my feed is usually very low-volume), so it is very possible that I have failed to see some relevant tweets among the hundreds posted in the past 24 hours or so. Often several people made the same observations independently, and I am not sure who made them first. So: apologies in advance if I seem not to give your contribution the attention it deserves.

As mentioned above, there is a lot of material to cover, so I think I'll break it into several blogposts; this one covering the staff listed on the RECEPTIO website.

It was a private DM that really got the ball rolling for me. I was sent a private message to the effect that at least three of the supposed members of staff of RECEPTIO are represented by stock photos.

I had tried finding some of these staff members online (with very limited results, for reasons that later became apparent) but had not yet tried a reverse image search to find where their supposed portrait photos came from. 

The first to be revealed as a stock photo was "Noemi De Santis":
My favourite example is the Legal Advisor, attorney "Paolo Enrico Bernasconi":
His image can be found on a number of sites:
of which this is my favourite:
But it turns out that he can also help you out with your drug arrest if you are in Texas or New Mexico!:
 

The same situation applies to several more of RECEPTIO's supposed staff, including "Emma Fleury" and "Hannah Amì":

Within hours of these observations being made on Twitter, the images of these people started disappearing from the RECEPTIO website:

A comparison between two archived versions of the RECEPTIO website reveals *extensive* changes on the Operational Staff page this year: 11 people have been removed, and of those that remain several have had their names or titles changed! 

Of the people who [at the original time of writing] have not yet been removed from the website, three share a common surname, and Prof. Rossi uses the same surname in legal contexts, as shown by online records. Prof. Rossi's husband later sent me an email confirming that she is his wife, and the other two women whose names and pictures appeared on the RECEPTIO website are their daughters.

The website of the Swiss National Science Foundation lists Carla Rossi's grants, which total of 547,145 Swiss francs (not including any money she was paid for her part in a 3-year project that was granted another 653,176 Swiss francs).

She received a grant of 20,000 Swiss francs (about £18,000 or $21,000) for a one- month project to work on the reconstruction of the manuscript which was the subject of my blogpost:
I cannot comment on the quality of the other projects, but certainly this grant resulted in an extremely poor piece of very "deriviative" work.

Maybe I'll come back and add more to this post later. I want to end by emphasising that there are certainly some innocent people who have been persuaded to get involved with RECEPTIO, at least one of whom I know to be a genuine scholar, and who knew nothing of what is now being uncovered, so please do not assume that everyone involved with RECEPTIO has the same moral compass as its Director.


Thursday, 29 December 2022

The RECEPTIO-Rossi Affair VII: More Clear Evidence of "Quoting"?

My impression is that many people who have been on this roller coaster have been very interested in how the apparent copying was originally revealed. I'll give another example here.

In my "Part IV" blogpost I wrote 

"[...]  it is notable that Rossi admits that in her book she is quoting the Sotheby's catalogue. And yet she does not cite it as a source."

The context was the question of whether the text she was "quoting" (her word) came from a 2017 Sotheby's catalogue, or from my blogpost. The context was not a discussion about where she got the images: this distinction will be important in a moment.

Wednesday, 28 December 2022

The RECEPTIO-Rossi Affair VI: The Backstory

Anyone who has read my Part IV "Accusations" blogpost may have wondered about this paragraph, quoting from an email I wrote:

"I was previously unable to find your email address, so I have sent a series of messages to [ name removed ] who contacted me in August, and to the general address at info@receptio.eu, to which Noemi De Santis responded."

Perhaps it looks as if I might be hiding something, so in the interests of transparency I'll provide the backstory.

Tuesday, 27 December 2022

The RECEPTIO-Rossi Affair, Part V: "Alleged Plagiarism"

The last couple of days have been a bit crazy, and I now realise that I have not written anything here about the first PDF added to her Academia.edu page by Prof. Rossi, entitled "Alleged Plagiarism". 

When I first read it, I tweeted that:

"It would take considerable time and effort -- and would probably  be pointless -- to write an item-by-item commentary on this document, but if people have specific questions that it raises, I will do my best to answer them."

What follows may seem a bit pedantic and nit-picking, but for those with the stamina to read it, it may help explain why I have absolutely no worries about a legal threat.

Before anything else, I invite her, or any other reader, to show me where I have "alleged plagiarism": I have simply provided evidence and allowed readers to draw  their own conclusions. If she believes I am alleging plagiarism, that is itself quite revealing.

Of course it is true that I might be taking her words (or mine) out of context to distort the true situation. According to Rossi, I "started sending to members of the research centre I run various e-mails, containing a series of offensive, intimidating messages, with the aim of discrediting my work."

If she would like me to publish the full email correspondence, I would be very willing to; she only has to ask.

In return, I think it would be reasonable for me to ask for:

  • evidence that Noemi De Santis exists
  • evidence that her book on the De Roucy Hours received proper scholarly peer-review, as required by the rules of the body that provided 20,000 CHF funding for its Open Access publication:

(I am not suggesting that this should be made public, only that it should be made available to someone impartial, with an adequate knowledge of medieval manuscripts and Fragmentology, and in a position to assess its scholarly value and rigour.)

Let us assume for now that peer-review did take place. I will write a separate blog with a list of some of the things that the peer-reviewer apparently failed to notice, or if they were noticed by the peer-reviewer, Prof. Rossi failed to incorporate into her text.

Back to the "Alleged Plagiarism" document (from which quotations are in bold). In explaining why she did not acknowledge or cite the main sources she used, she writes:

"I would have had no reason to mention that blog, which provided no different information from what one gets from the websites of German antiquarian galleries or the catalogues of British auction houses."

Auction catalogues are often written by highly regarded scholars. In the world of medieval manuscripts, Christopher de Hamel is the best known [Wikipedia]: he wrote most descriptions of manuscripts sold at Sotheby's from 1975 to 2000. Kay Sutton worked at Christie's full time from 2000 until her untimely death a few years ago [Obituary on my blog]. One is, the other was, a scholar of international reputation.

Auction catalogues often contain original research, and often contain descriptions and images of manuscripts that are otherwise completely unpublished. Their value  to scholarship is immense. Prof. Rossi appears not to know this.

"Also, perhaps worth remembering, blog posts do not have a DOI number and it can happen that the information provided is scientifically unreliable."

Whether or not one or the other has a DOI is rather irrelevant, in my opinion. Information provided in peer-reviewed academic publications (as she has abundantly demonstrated) can also be "scientifically unreliable".

"The blogger, for instance, misidentified the manuscript in an eighteenth-century auction catalogue, thus making unlikely assumptions."

In the 18th-century auction catalogue, Rossi identifies the manuscript as lot 36. In my 2016 blog, by contrast, I wrote: "there are at least two lots, 36 and 40, whose descriptions might very well refer to the present manuscript". Lot 36 is certainly the more obvious match, but not necessarily the correct one. I do not see what "unlikely assumptions" result from my caution.

On the contrary, in her book she writes:

"I believe this BoH lost its initial miniature very early on, probably along with the handwritten calendar (which had become obsolete), in the 17th century. This calendar was later replaced with a printed one. With this structure, the manuscript it is listed under number 36 in the 18th century catalogue."

So she has made a series of assumptions (expressed as beliefs), based on the assumption that the manuscript was lot 36.

She next writes:

"He considered the coats of arms in some of the miniatures to be retouched [...]"

I cannot find anywhere in my text where I suggested that any of the heraldic arms are retouched. I challenged Twitter to find such a statement, and as yet no one has done so. Rossi's assertion therefore appears to be invention or error. (But I am still willing to be corrected).

"He has only identified around twenty folia fugitiva, while I have recovered over a hundred [...]"

In this context "folia fugitiva" is just a fancy way of saying single leaves (unnecessary Latin always sounds more impressive, doesn't it?). Rather than "around twenty", the actual numbers I found are: 36 leaves, represented by 59 images. (You can count them for yourself, here). My limited aim, as stated at the top of that page, was to locate images of the leaves with miniatures, not every leaf, and I succeeded in finding images of all except 3 of them.

"through a historical and philological study, I have proposed to identify the manuscript's addressee and the possible atelier where the codex was produced."

Rossi may have identified the "the manuscript's addressee" correctly: I do not know, because I have not checked the evidence. I can confidently say, however, that she has not identified the "atelier where the codex was produced": she is not an art historian, and the politest way I can describe her attempt at stylistic analysis is "naive".

"Nevertheless, distorting the evidence of the facts, he attempted, in the Christmas post, to slander me (https://mssprovenance.blogspot.com/2022/12/nobody-cares-about-your-blog.html), going so far as to claim that I had 'stolen' some images from his blog without his permission and had even plagiarised him"

If anyone can find evidence of "slander", please point it out to me. Note that the word " 'stolen' " used by her here is in inverted commas: if anyone can find me using this word, please point it out to me. If I did not use that word, then who is slandering whom?

"the blogger's unjustified anger towards me, who turned to a handful of his friends and associates, who began sending me intimidating anonymous emails"

You will have to take my word for it that this is not true. If anyone sent "intimidating anonymous emails" it was not as a result of me turning to a "handful of friends and associates".

"Moreover, he informed of the alleged offense in not being quoted, a US professor of fragmentology [...]"

Rossi then reproduces a (private) email from the relevant "professor of fragmentology" -- you can read it for yourself and see if you agree with Rossi's characterisation that it is written in "a rather threatening way [...] trying to intimidate me [...]". Personally, I think it seems factual and more polite than it needed to have been.

Rossi then reproduces more "anonymous e-mails" in which the names and email addresses are clearly visible!

Look at the evidence, and draw your own conclusions.

The RECEPTIO-Rossi Affair IV: My "Accusations"

Continuing from this morning's post, the second part of the PDF recently uploaded to Prof. Rossi's Academia.edu page is titled: "Response to Mr Kidd's accusations on his blog".

If I fail to adequately address her claims below, please let me know. Again, I follow her numbering:

"1. In his blog post, Peter Kidd quotes two passages from the introductory part of your book that are very similar to passages from his blog. How do you explain this similarity?"

[Answer:] "We are both quoting Sotheby's 2017 sale catalogue"


First, it is notable that Rossi admits that in her book she is "quoting" the Sotheby's catalogue. And yet she does not cite it as a source.

Second, the Sotheby's description ends: "More than 20 of the miniatures are reproduced online as 'The Courtanvaux-Elmhirst Hours'": this refers to my page here, titled "The Courtanvaux-Elmhirst Hours", as would be immediately obvious to anyone who attempted to Google it. So although the Sotheby's description does not name me, it does allow "credit where credit is due".

Third, one reason that I am not named in the Sotheby's description, is because I wrote it. I thought it would be immodest to implicitly praise my own work by explicitly citing myself as its author.

"2. Did you consult Mr Kidd's blog during your research?"

This question does not get its own answer, but is covered by the answer to the next question:

"3. In a journal article on the same manuscript (TCLA 6/1, Aug. 2022, p. 25), you mention the blogger and his work in relation to the Roucy manuscript. Why is the reference to the blog missing in the book?"

[Answer:]

"Simply because the blog was brought to my attention when the drafts of the book were closed, but I mentioned it in the Journal. However, I must honestly say that as the blog did not add anything new or original to what was already being gleaned from the auction catalogues, I did not feel, in the Journal, to quote it on a particular issue. I regret that my secretary succumbed to Kidd's insistent and unpleasant e-mails, which left no room for dialogue, and responded rudely without questioning me. The whole thing happened while I was travelling for the Christmas holidays and she had permission to answer my mail. We never imagined that such squalor could happen."

I leave readers to make up their own minds about whether they find this credible.

Let's look at the second part of that statement: "I regret that my secretary succumbed to Kidd's insistent and unpleasant e-mails, which left no room for dialogue, and responded rudely without questioning me. The whole thing happened while I was travelling for the Christmas holidays and she had permission to answer my mail."

To provide some context, I will explain that in the days before Christmas, I tried to contact Prof. Rossi using the general RECEPTIO email address, info@receptio.eu, pointing out some apparent examples of text and images being re-used from my blog in her book. Someone claiming to be "Noemi De Santis" responded, and I exchanged a few messages with her. On 23 December I wrote to carla.rossi@receptio.eu as follows:

"Dear Prof. Rossi,

I was previously unable to find your email address, so I have sent a series of messages to [ name removed ] who contacted me in August, and to the general address at info@receptio.eu, to which Noemi De Santis responded.

Since I have not been able to contact you directly, I wanted to make sure that you are aware of the correspondence being conducted by Ms De Santis on behalf of Receptio, since she makes a number of legal threats and tells a number of untruths. 

Best wishes,

Peter Kidd"

Even using this email address I got a response from "Noemi":

"Dear Mr Kidd,

Please note: I am Professor Rossi's secretary, who is not aware of our correspondence. I manage this mail account.

Best,

Noemi"


Questions 4 and 5 do not concern "accusations" of mine, except insofar as I have already addressed the issue of Swiss funding.

"6. Peter Kidd states on his blog that he was the only one to include a colour scan and publication permission for a section of the manuscript ("miniature depicting St Mark"). He says you originally published this image in its coloured version (fol. 5r)."

[Answer begins:] "I obtained a bw image of St. Mark's miniature from the German dealer Hartung and not from Kidd’s blog.

I did NOT get a colour picture from Hartung, but we first worked with the publisher's graphic designer to colourise the black and white pictures using the "Colorize picture" application, as you can see on page 253 of my edition."

It is true that RECEPTIO had a black & white image of the leaf from the German auction house Hartung (as did I: I put it on my website several years ago, and it is still there). But I also later added a colour version of the image.

Does any reader really believe that a "Colorize picture" application can correctly guess all the colours -- including the figure's clothes, the areas of blank background, and the plumage of the bird in the border -- in an image like this?:

to produce this:

so accurately matching the original, which looks like this:

Personally, I think it stretches credibility beyond breaking point, especially as Rossi has now admitted that (despite earlier denials), she was aware of my blog site.