Research Misconduct

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Recent decision in Professor Chan Yan Cheong v The Research Grants Council of the University Grants Committee [2020] HKCFI 459 (18 March 2020)

Prof Chan, Chair Professor in the Dept of Electrical Engineering at CityU, made a funding application to RGC in April 2013. He included a Figure with no reference to the original source.  When asked by RGC about the lack of acknowledgement for the Figure, Prof Chan replied it was due to oversight. He apologised and asked for the Figure to be withdrawn. RGC did not allow it.  RGC asked CityU to investigate a possible case of plagiarism.  CityU’s Investigation Panel (endorsed by their VP(R&Tech) found

Does protecting human participants privacy open a backdoor to research misconduct?

Karen, a psychology student, conducted a research project that involved the interview of a number of human participants. In compliance with the university rules on protection of human subjects in research, she assured the subjects that the contents of interview and their personal data would be used only for purposes of the research. When inputting the research data, all subjects are referred to only by code instead of their real names. But then Karen made up words which the subjects never spoke/used  in order to

The importance of formal procedures to deal with allegations of research misconduct

Professor Richard Epstein (University of Chicago Law School) has written an article in which he emphasises the importance of "established and settled institutional arrangements" (rather than "sloppy and ad hoc procedures") to investigate allegations of research misconduct in each university. Epstein points out that there should be no appearance of bias by the person(s) responsible for the investigation. Referring to his own experience in shaping the procedures at the University of Chicago, he writes that: "in order to avoid any risk of bias, the appointment of the

How should researchers procure goods and services?

Prof. Mark Israel (Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services) has kindly given permission for this hypothetical case study to be reproduced. Simon has been awarded a grant by the UGC. The research will require him to purchase services from interpreters, travel agents, and employ research assistants. He suspects that he might get the best deal from his wife's translation agency, his brother's travel agency, and the daughter of a senior manager at the UGC, who topped the class in the relevant area, is looking for

Should you accept conference honoraria/travel funding from a sponsor?

Professor Peter Miller (School of Psychology, Deakin University) and others argue in an article that researchers should be aware that their objectivity might be compromised if they accept honoraria and travel funds from a sponsor that funds industry-favourable research. Also, they highlight the opportunities to fraternise with industry executives at such conferences. They give the example of the alcohol industry sponsoring academics to attend conferences, at which industry executives have the opportunity to meet researchers. Miller and others argue that, because the alcohol industry funds

Should you peer review an article written by a former colleague?

Prof. Mark Israel (Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services) has kindly given permission for this hypothetical case study to be reproduced. Karen is asked by a journal to review an article written by a former colleague. They have not co-authored together, though they did discuss doing so once. They are both in the same very narrow field of specialisation and have found themselves repeatedly competing for the same jobs around the world. This article appears to be covering similar ground to the work Karen recently

How to decide whether to accept sponsorship funding: PERIL analysis

In an article published in 2007, Peter Adams proposed a decision-making framework known as 'PERIL'. Peter Miller summarises Adams' PERIL framework as follows: Purpose refers to the degree to which purposes are divergent between funder and recipient. For example, if the primary purpose of the recipient is the advancement of public good, receiving funds from dangerous consumption industries such as tobacco, alcohol and gambling will probably conflict with this purpose. Similarly, the risk is mitigated partially if the funder has a clear public good role.

HKU Policy on Research Integrity: Plagiarism

Section 3.1 ('Plagiarism and self-plagiarism') of the HKU Policy on Research Integrity contains the following: Plagiarism is the use of another person’s work (including but not limited to any materials, creations, ideas and data) as if one’s own without due acknowledgement, whether or not such work has been published and regardless of the intent to deceive; Self-plagiarism is the reuse of one’s own work without acknowledging that such work has been submitted elsewhere. References to what could constitute plagiarism can be found in the University

Do the same plagiarism rules apply when courts copy a party’s submissions in the judgment?

In Cojocaru v British Columbia Women’s Hospital and Health Centre [2013] 2 S.C.R. 357, the trial judge's decision copied significant parts of the Plaintiffs' submissions (although he did not accept all of their submissions). The trial judge did not, however, attribute the incorporated material to its original author. The trial judge did discuss some issues and concluded in his own words. The Defendants were held to be liable in negligence. The Court of Appeal for British Columbia held, by a majority, that the trial judge's

The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity: Plagiarism

The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity (jointly published by the European Science Foundation and ALL European Academies (ALLEA)), and to which the HKU Policy on Research Integrity makes reference in Section 2) defines plagiarism in Section 2.2.4 ('Integrity in science and scholarship: misconduct') as: "the appropriation of another person's ideas, research results or words without giving appropriate credit. The precise wording of an idea or explanation or illustrative material (such as original figures and photographs, as well as lengthy tables) in textbooks or