More NWU pla­gia­rism claims

CityPress - - News - MSIN­DISI FENGU msin­disi.fengu@city­press.co.za

An­other North-West Univer­sity (NWU) se­nior aca­demic has been added to a list of pro­fes­sion­als at the in­sti­tu­tion cur­rently un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion for pla­gia­rism.

City Press has learnt that the aca­demic, whose name is known to the news­pa­per but can­not be pub­lished until they are for­mally charged, was pro­moted to the po­si­tion of as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor last year.

This was be­fore al­le­ga­tions of pla­gia­rism were made by a whis­tle-blower against 11 aca­demics at the univer­sity to the Coun­cil on Higher Ed­u­ca­tion in May.

The coun­cil then in­formed the univer­sity, which ini­ti­ated a foren­sic in­ves­ti­ga­tion, also in May.

This is the sec­ond se­nior aca­demic known by City Press to be im­pli­cated in the scan­dal. The first aca­demic oc­cu­pies a se­nior man­age­ment po­si­tion at the Mafikeng cam­pus.

A source close to the stu­dent body claimed this week that the im­pli­cated as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor and head of a de­part­ment al­legedly “pla­gia­rised 15 ar­ti­cles”.

One of the ar­ti­cles by the as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor and coau­thors, pub­lished in 2013, did not credit the work lifted from a study by Lon W Whit­low, Eval­u­a­tion of My­co­toxin Binders, which was pub­lished in 2006.

In his study, Whit­low states: “De­tox­i­fi­ca­tion and in­ac­ti­va­tion meth­ods in­clude the use of binders or se­ques­ter­ing agents added to feed as an ap­proach to reduce tox­i­c­ity of my­co­tox­ins by re­duc­ing re­ac­tiv­ity of bound my­co­tox­ins and re­duc­ing their in­testi­nal ab­sorp­tion. Sub­stances used as my­co­toxin binders in­clude in­di­gestible ad­sor­bent ma­te­ri­als such as sil­i­cates, ac­ti­vated car­bons, com­plex car­bo­hy­drates and oth­ers.”

The al­legedly pla­gia­rised study, A Decade of Afla­toxin M1 Sur­veil­lance in Milk and Dairy Prod­ucts in De­vel­op­ing Coun­tries (2001-2011): A Re­view, re­pro­duces al­most the en­tire para­graph writ­ten by Whit­low.

NWU spokesper­son Louis Ja­cobs con­firmed that the sec­ond se­nior aca­demic im­pli­cated in al­le­ga­tions of pla­gia­rism was in­deed pro­moted to as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor last year, ef­fec­tive from Jan­uary 1.

Ja­cobs said the univer­sity viewed al­le­ga­tions of pla­gia­rism in a se­ri­ous light, but he dis­puted ru­mours that the univer­sity this week sus­pended or placed one of the im­pli­cated aca­demics on spe­cial leave.

“We have in­sti­tuted vig­or­ous pro­cesses to de­ter­mine their au­then­tic­ity be­fore mak­ing any pro­nounce­ments. Im­me­di­ately af­ter the al­le­ga­tions were re­ceived, the univer­sity com­menced with a foren­sic in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

He said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion could be con­cluded within weeks and the univer­sity would make an an­nounce­ment once it re­ceived a fi­nal re­port. Ja­cobs said the univer­sity re­spected the rights of all aca­demics, which was why it wished to treat the matter con­fi­den­tially until the process was con­cluded.

“We urge our stake­hold­ers and the public to al­low us the space to con­duct a fair but thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion in strict com­pli­ance with our poli­cies and the laws of our country. All the aca­demics re­main in­no­cent until proven oth­er­wise. How­ever, we con­demn in the strong­est terms any acts of pla­gia­rism by any­one as­so­ci­ated with the univer­sity and, if proven true, the in­volved par­ties will be dealt with in ac­cor­dance with univer­sity dis­ci­plinary mea­sures,” Ja­cobs said.

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