Teaching and Learning Forum 2001 Home Page
[ Teaching and Learning Forum 2001 ] [ Proceedings Contents ]

Academic misconduct, definitions, legal issues, and management

P. A. Addison
School of Accounting
Curtin University of Technology


The information explosion makes it necessary for someone to interpret, analyse, integrate and disseminate the knowledge, the theories, and the research necessary to advance society's interests. History indicates however, that many researchers do not act honestly and are guilty of misconduct. For example, Maslen (1993: 10,19) reported four [Australian] acts of bureaucratic plagiarism. In all cases [contract] employees claimed that plagiarism was widespread but they felt helpless because of their inferior status. Lack of adequate university mechanisms exacerbated their position. Disappointingly too editors often countenance plagiarism. For example, Alex Haley, author of Roots, was accused of plagiarising from The African written by Courlander (Mallon, 1989: 111). Courlander settled with publishers for $US650,000 but the judge's declaration that, 'Haley perpetrated a hoax on the public' still lingers (Reid, 1997). In Australia the Miles Franklin 1995 Literary award for The Hand That Signed the Paper was withdrawn when its author, H. Darville was found to have plagiarised.

Similarly, journalists plagiarise. Mike Barnicle (Stein, 1998), Ms Beaghler (Stein, 1997), Lynn Mathews (Stein, 1996), Janet Cooke (Calvacca,1996, Ruth Shalit (Beam, 1996), and Bob Wisehart (Stein, 1995), were reported for varying degrees of plagiarism. An inquiry to the Columbia Journalism Review by a journalism instructor about the consequences of journalism plagiarism indicated that outcomes were mixed (Lieberman, 1995). The Australian ABC program Media Watch has consistently drawn attention to misconduct, journalistic, academic, and other. Bowers (1997: 128) contends that journalists 'see plagiarism for what it is: the theft of someone else's creative and intellectual property.' However, what society 'sees' is that government-sponsored [or any] research should not be tainted by possibility of bias (Weiss, 1989: A56).

This paper is concerned with academic misconduct, components of which are plagiarism, fabrication, forgery, and salami-slicing, as 'new ways of shading the truth.' The first objective is to provide background information, to review definitions of academic misconduct, and to discuss the differences and the problems which imprecise definitions present. The second objective is to examine plagiarism, fabrication, falsification and other misdemeanours. The third objective is to give a limited overview of the damage misconduct inflicts on society and offer some advice.


Even though much has been written about misconduct, and plagiarism in particular, it is helpful to set the scene with an overview of LaFollette's discussion of the American scientific research climate in the 1960s and 1970s. In Stealing into Print: Fraud, Plagiarism, and Misconduct in Scientific Publishing (1992) she observed specifically that even the most extreme examples of faked data or plagiarism were dismissed, (1) as aberrations, as unrepresentative of scientists 'across the board', (2) as the effects of the changed political and economic environment after the Reagan Administration deregulated scientific grants,[1] and (3) as a consequence of focusing on fiscal accountability and regulating the quality of research management in universities.[2] The result was that researchers were handed collective autonomy and economic and political power, such that they often dictated policy and reduced bureaucrats' control of the research agenda. Nevertheless, when scientists at the best 'places' were accused of fakery, fraud, and plagiarising in the 1980s, the Congressional Committee grew tired of the protestations and excuses made by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Members of Congress could not understand, for example, why the NIH continued to support those guilty of misconduct. Moreover, the heated congressional discussions 'spilled' to...morning newspapers' like the Boston Globe, the New York Times, and the Washington Post (264). La Follette reports that scientists ignored political warnings and were unconcerned about dealing with known facts of misconduct and plagiarism (26). Nonetheless a random sample of journals reported misdemenours prominently. For instance, Science published articles in 1974, 1980 [2 articles], 1981, 1982, 1985, 1986 [2 articles], 1987 [2 articles], [1988 [6 articles], 1989 [3 articles], and 1990 [2 articles], (26).[3] Other journals like Minerva published leading articles about research misconduct in 1985, 1989 [2 articles] and 1990, and Wheeler (1977, 1988) reported on a scientist who corruptly interpreted and reported [fabricated] results and named 6 scientists who had been debarred.[4] However, it came as a surprise to the scientists when the Congressional Committee of Congress (COC) indicted Summerlin [see later] and charged him with misconduct (17).[5] More indictments followed.

Identifying misconduct

Buzelli (1993), a prominent member of the National Science Foundation (NSF) defined scientific misconduct as plagiarism and other 'serious deviations from accepted practice' like: Misconduct was not limited to science, however. For example, Loeb (1994), an ethicist and accountant, also documented possible acts of misconduct and unethical behaviour in (1) research, (2) teaching and student relations, and (3) other issues.[6]

Misconduct in research

Loeb's (1990:126) literature search, which identified the pressure on academics [particularly] to publish [or perish] documented and reported [accounting] academic misconduct ranging from research errors to fraud and plagiarism. For example, he identified not analysing and interpreting results with integrity (Key & Hendricks, 1984: 80), and not recognising ethical responsibilities to human subjects (Engle & Smith, 1990:12; Crain & Carruth, 1992: 31) as instances of misconduct. Other cited researchers exposed examples of misconduct as:

Also included were instances of textbook writers' potential for misconduct: Misconduct in teaching and student relations

Researchers also indicate that misconduct can be indirectly related to research, being often interwoven with other academic activities:

Misconduct is also an 'individual/personal' concept as evidenced by: All cited authors hold in common that misconduct includes plagiarism, fabrication, and other aspects of deception. Following her research LaFollette (1992: 36) classified misconduct 'as actions intended to deceive for some unethical motive', thereby distinguishing intentional from unintentional actions. Thus she defined misconduct as fabrication, fakery, forgery and plagiarism, including plagiarism by a referee of either ideas or text from a manuscript under review (56).[8]

Plagiarism - one form of misconduct

Martin (1971) describes plagiarism as a Pandora's Box because of the many definitions attributed to it. It is variously defined as cheating, stealing, dishonesty, deception (Carroll, 1992), and as metaphor (Leight, 1999: 221). O'Neill coined the words paraplage or plagisphrase to describe half-textual sources, or half-original writing. Saalbach (1970) refers to plagiarism as uncritically making an idea one's own, while Waltman (1980, cited in Carroll) distinguishes intentional from unintentional plagiarism, and Malloch (1976) refers to it as inverse ventriloquism.[9] Plagiarism according to Martin (cited in Carroll) is the 'academic counterpart of the bank embezzler and the manufacturer who mis-labels his product.'

At a basic level, plagiarising the work of another is a form of academic dishonesty and not acceptable in academic circles: it is unethical, illegal borrowing, laziness (Leight, 1999: 226), or deliberate guile (Swearingen, 1999: 25). St Onge (53, cited in Stearns:) defines plagiarism as:

... the form of repeating another's sentences as your own, adopting a particularly apt phrase as you own, paraphrasing someone else's argument as you own even presenting someone else's line of thinking in the development of a thesis [as] though it were your own. In short, to plagiarise is to give the impression that you have written or thought something that you have in fact borrowed from another.
Lindey (1952: 2) describes it as '...taking the product of another person's mind and representing it as one's own', and as 'literary or artistic or musical theft' (8). Stearns (1999: 7) refers to it as the failure of creativity. His definition speaks of theft: '...the false assumption of authorship'(8). He notes that the plagiarised author's reaction can be internal: 'there is a curious element of intellectual violence even in the word's root [plagiari(us), kidnapper; plagi(um), kidnapping] because the abduction or appropriation of words or ideas occurs without the owner's consent.' Its 'lack of attribution severs the connection between the original author's name and the work' (Stearns, 1999: 10).[10] More to the point it assaults the author's interest in receiving credit by falsely claiming authorship of someone else's material.[11]


It is often asserted for example, that plagiarism may not be intentional (Stearns, 1999: 11). Stearns agrees that borrowing is inevitable: that to learn and understand existing knowledge, great works and theories must be accessed (12). See also Mallon (1989: 6) and Lindey (1952: 236). These commentators agree that this process is necessary for knowledge production. Adding to knowledge therefore is the only justification for borrowing someone else's work. What matters is not that words are new: they must be original.[12] Mallon (1989) notes however that, 'The history of copyright actually has more to do with piracy than plagiarism.' He queries the reasonableness of claims of unconscious memory, borrowing, and buying an interest, and then argues that these claims are impossible, a polite synonym for stealing, and/or an interesting but unlikely possibility (75, 6).

Identifying intentionality in plagiarism

Plagiarism, even if it is unintentional, is still morally unacceptable. Table 1 provides instances of unintentional deception to highlight the differences in law.

Table 1: Instances of unintentional plagiarism

The impact of deceptionImage of unintentionalityImage of intentionality

EffectsReflect on the reputation as researcherReflect on the character as a person
Hoaxes, parodies and jokesRegarded as innocent goals
Sloppy work, errors in statistics
Amount to copyright infringement, fabrication if copied, false representation
Accidents and mistakesOnus of proof on the author/sAll the above
CarelessnessLaziness/lack of caringDeliberate fakery
Self-interestIncidental gainDesigned to gain an advantage

Source: La Follette (1992, 38-41)

LaFollette notes that unintentional plagiarism includes honest mistakes caused by sloppiness or proofreading errors. The absence of self-interest, even though a gain may incidentally accrue, is another unintentional outcome. A study by Tenpenny et al., however, suggests that unintentional [inadvertent] plagiarism is unlikely:

...to the extent that an artist, theorist, composer, or writer attempts to produce truly novel material, it may be unlikely that someone else's unusual idea would come to mind unaccompanied by any knowledge about its source. (March & Bower, 1993; March & Landau, 1995, cited in Tenpenny et al.).
It is the systematic aspect that elevates plagiarism to the level of misconduct. The vignette that follows provides an instance of plagiarism. Vignette 1 about Sokolow [the Texas Tech case] demonstrates how difficult it is for universities to 'out' those guilty of misconduct even when systematic plagiarism is proved.

An instance of plagiarism, in Mallon, T. (1989). Stolen Words: Forays into the Origins and Ravages of Plagiarism: 144-193.

Details: Jayme Sokolow (S) commenced his university life at Texas Tech in 1976. He was 30 years old and had a Phd. He was not a top class Phd. but there was a shortage of Phd.s and Texas Tech needed a change of ethos. By 1981 [he had been there 5 years] he was ready for tenure, and at the same time Professor Collins (C), a British specialist historian, S's colleague, came across a criticism of one of S's 'notes', which stated specifically that S's comments were similar to those in another's study. C sought a copy of the 'note' and found evidence of plagiarism. C rang Gray [an editor], on another matter, but Gray in passing, asked C's impression of S. It turned out that Gray received a manuscript from S for publication that was rejected by a referee because of plagiarism. Armed with this knowledge C and a colleague Professor Blakeley (B) began to check on S's scholarship. Briefly, they acquired the plagiarised work, fearing it might disappear. In the meanwhile the plagiarised author [Nissenbaum] was told by Foster (F) from Georgia Tech of the plagiarism. F asked that the matter go no further, hoping he was wrong. Ultimately he was asked to referee one of S's manuscripts. He quickly pointed out the plagiarisms. To cut a long story short, C and B collected original evidence of S's plagiarism and put it to the members of the tenure board.

Outcome: Ultimately, one member came to the view that S should go - immediately. S, asked to explain, was not contrite and stood his ground. However, when he realised he had no support, he resigned. He was not dismissed. What is of concern is the university's stance. First, the university [and its professors] feared that it might be accused of persecution, and second they feared potential legal consequences. The irony is that S was employed by the National Endowment for the Humanities, a position that monitored grants awarded to academics.

Mallon (191-193) claims that this was a not 'a cover up, just a shut up.'

The legal meaning of fraud

What is literary fraud? It is defined variously as deceit, trickery, sharp practice by which it is sought to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage (Macquarie Encylopedic Dictionary, 1990: 367), as a crime (Zurer, 1988), the 'unauthorised publication of copyright material', or as 'the conclusions of scientific research [which] are blatantly at variance with the known facts' (cited in La Follette: 34), a deliberate attempt to deceive (American Medical Association Manual of Style, cited in LaFollette: 223), and
...direct interference with the integrity of the work of others', and...such disparate acts as tampering with another's computer files, contaminating another's laboratory specimens, or otherwise altering illicitly the natural course of an experiment
Thus a fraud is one who:
... in the context of [scientific] communication... makes a false representation to obtain some unfair advantage or to injure deliberately the rights or interests of another person or group (41)[13]
The publication of an article sets up a legal and social contract that binds the parties. This contract warrants that the author/s is/are the true author/s and can give permission to publish. This permission also implies that the author is the person he/she says he/she is, that all authors are listed, that all authors have contributed, that the conclusions fit the actual data, and that the research is that which was actually done. Moreover, it is assumed that the publisher and author/s understand how editors react to and deal with misconduct matters (La Follette: 92). The key point of interest is that every contract is underpinned by trust and mutual obligations. The clear-cut implications of intentional/unintentional publication of falsified or fabricated data, forgery of signatures, or copyright infringement, especially plagiarism, is covered by copyright (61).

The origins of copyright law/fraud

Copyright law is designed to encourage creativity and the dissemination of its results (Stearns: 8). Copyright fraud cuts down these aims (Stearns: 10). Copyright law is based on case law (Lindey: 6), which defines copyright infringement as the 'copying of all or a material or substantial part of copyrighted or copyrightable matter' (Lindey: 2). Thus copyright infringement is concerned with at least the following questions (Lindey, 6):
  1. Is there a similarity to the original (assuming it exists), the result of copying?
  2. Has a material or substantial part of the original been copied?
  3. Was the original duly copyrighted?
Identifying the author

The normative framework 'for the conception of ... author is philosophical' according to LaRochelle (1999: 122). He notes that Kant [14] (see Table 2) pinpointed the connection between an author and his work by specifying a 'distinction between ownership and author, and possession and buyer.'

A book always has two levels of reality that when taken separately, determine its status. On the one hand the material aspect makes it a "body" of which the owner can easily dispose...[thus] it lends itself to market operations and transactions of capitalism. On the other hand Kant ...maintains that books imply an intellectual aspect that manifests at once the subjectivity of its author (individualism), and the inter-subjective sharing out of the intellect (universalism). LaRochelle (1999: 122).

Table 2: Kant's paralogic of copyright law

Level of
Division of
rights to property

Author and creation are linked by the interiority of his discourse [as an individual]Personal rightsThe author has a writing or discourse asset

Publisher never acquires any right to parts of the book - only the alienable part of the bookReal rightsThe publisher has a mute instrument to diffuse the discourse

fromparalogic to

The notion of synthetic, of writing as an extension of 'self', regarded in law as an efficient method of operating, and the co-option of 'intellectual property' as 'a property', is consonant with the idea that 'nothing can with greater propriety be called a man's property than the fruit of his brain (Waring, cited in Stearns: 12).[15] Thus, the novelty of the content and the way words are arranged and expressed, meld with authorship as intellectual property.[16]

Defining originality in law

Locke (cited in Howard, 1999: 92) is credited with the statement 'that man owns his body and its labors': writing was thus defined as labor. However, the most influential statement about originality is attributed to Young (cited in Howard: 92) who states that:
The mind of a man of Genius is a fertile and pleasant field, a pleasant Elysium...it enjoys a perpetual Spring. Of that Spring, Originals are the fairest Flowers: Imitations are of quicker growth, but fainter bloom. Imitations are of two kinds: one of Nature, one of Authors: the first we call Originals, and confine the term Imitation to the second...
Notwithstanding disagreement about what constitutes originality, copyright protects the 'form.' Three key concepts are recognised, (1) originality [if copyrighted], (2) an author's rights to personal property, and (3) the meaning of copyright infringement [adaptation of words to new contexts does not infringe copyright].

Swearingen (1999: 20) notes in respect of ownership, that once originality and unique individual genius was emphasised, original authorship came to be defined as personal and statutory property.[17] Personal property is intangible: thus an author acquires a common law right to the manuscript and a statutory right to copyright, 'granted ... to authors for a limited time to make and sell copies of their work' (Lindey: 96-99). Spigelman (1999: 232) also agrees that once 'literary' property was linked to its originality, authors acquired property rights. Lindey (21) addressed the issue of 'strict originality' by stating that[18]:

If a book which lacked strictly original elements were to be denied copyright, there would be no ground for copyright in modern times; indeed, we would be hard put to it to find, even in antiquity, a work entitled to such eminence.
Copyright relates to the content, not to the name. Thus copying is a key construct: the author must prove copying. Table 3 compares plagiarism and copyright.

Table 3: Proving plagiarism and proving copyright infringement

Tests: the form, the amount, and the sourcePlagiarismCopyright

Form - are words or thoughts copied?Yes: any copying of words, ideas, facts, and quotations is forbiddenYes: all statutorially defined aspects are protected including expressions, but not public knowledge
Not protected- ideas
Amount - what amount?Copying any amount -1 sentence or 1 resonant phrase is forbiddenThe amount must be substantial in quantity and quality
Source- what source?Copying from any source is forbiddenThe focus is on the effect of new work on old

Source: Stearns (1999: 9-17)

Note that copyright infringement and plagiarism are not the same. For example, copying of copyrighted material, unintentional or not, is forbidden: for plagiarism copying must be intentional. Another difference is that to prove plagiarism, material does not have to be copyrighted: to prove copyright infringement, material must be copyrighted. The law protects original works: authors are punished if they fail to obtain permission (LaFollette: 67).

Plagiarism is a modern construct (Spigelman, 1999: 233) which seems to be easier to prove than copyright infringement. Table 4 provides a trail from plagiarism to copyright infringement to guide debate. It demonstrates the intention of copyright law to protect economic rights, and shows how the concepts of authenticity and originality 'underwrite the essence of copyright' (Haywood, cited in La Follette: 64). Another objective of copyright law is to facilitate commerce: thus copyright infringement law also protects a publisher's investment and the publication process by denying the right to use the work (except as specified) without permission. Whereas attribution is the 'highly personal connection between author and work: the interest that copyright protects is 'the impersonal.' It also shows that whereas morally an author owns the original work [originality is the key], legally the owner holds the economic rights [ownership is the key]. However, since copyright is concerned with the arrangement of words: the form/s of expression: not the novelty of the content: the test of copyright infringement is about originality, i.e. has the person copied an essential or substantial part of copyrighted or copyrightable material?

Table 4: Copyright - the centrality of an author's rights in law

Effect of the lack of attributionPlagiarismCopyright

Ownership not acknowledgedAttribution is essential. The author has plagiarised.Attribution is not essential. Author is protected - the Law provides a remedy subject to the above comments. Publication is evidence of infringement.
   Monetary valueNone - rights are severedThe right to control publication and uses of the work.
   Non-monetary valueNone - rights are severedRight to be named as author, to display and perform it publicly
Owner's rightsTo complainTo sue: injunction and/or to impound materials.
IntentionalityProof of copying but often hard to establish.Includes intentional and unintentional copying.
Focus of effectIs on process.Is on process.

Stearns (1999:8-17)

An essential aspect is that a right is not limited literally to a text, 'otherwise a plagiarist would escape by immaterial variations' (Butterworth Online). As noted, the legal aspects of plagiarism are far from obvious. In Frankel v Irwin Judge Hough states that plagiarism may relate to language, or to plot:

...It is doubtful whether these incidents per se can become copyrightable literary property, but it does not take many of them, nor much causal connection thereof, to make what will pass for a plot, or scene, and constitute the action of a play; and that a scene has literary quality and can be copyrighted, and piracy may consist in appropriating the action of a play without any of the words, is well settled...(Butterworths Online).
Plagiarism can reside in incidents, in situations: the way ideas are worked out and presented and the dramatic value and importance of the copying. It is not necessary that original words in a dialogue be copied (in Rees v Melville); copyright protection is constituted in 'the words and the dramatic incidents or action in which the idea is embodied'(Sutton v Famous Players Film Co. Ltd.). Moreover, a film can infringe copyright in a play, and a non-dramatic literary work may be infringed by dramatising it or by making a film of it: it depends whether dramatic incidents or devices are copied (Clauson J, commenting on a sound film). However, when an idea in 'general' in nature [meaning the dramatic structure, situations, incidents, character development and story line] then action is limited. Thus the less developed the characters in a fiction, the less a literary work can be copyrighted (Hand, J in Nichols v Universal Pictures Corp). A recent example of alleged theft of ideas is the plagiarism case against Spielberg (Handy, 1997), in which Chase-Riboud is claiming damages. Handy reports that the tone, structure, and dramatic focus are different: Spielberg's script is sleek, A-list product riveting, literate, conventional; Chase-Riboud's is inferior by comparison.

Defining deception

Deception is a critical aspect of fraud. It is an artifice, a sham, a cheat, something that is intended to deceive (Macquarie Encyclopedic Dictionary, 1990: 240). It includes:
false representation of the authenticity of data, text, or authorship, as well as misrepresentation of a decision on publication; it includes deception intended to advance one's own career or position, to harm another's career or position, or to advance undeservedly another's career or position; and it includes theft of ideas (La Follette: 39).
Deception draws on all sorts of motives: 'power, greed, fear, jealousy, career advancement, and favours or protection from the powerful (attribute).'As Lindey (8) notes, however, 'the honesty of motive is no defense.' The case that follows demonstrates dishonest motive and intent.

An instance of fraud, in Charatan, F. (1997). Psychologist wins damages over theft of research. British Medical Journal: International Edn. 315 (7107): 501.

Details: Dr. Phinney (Carolyn), a specialist psychologist in personality and cognitive psychology, became a member of Dr. Perlmutter's (Marion) Institute of Gerontology in Michigan in 1986. Marion suggested to Carolyn that she apply for a federal grant based on her independent research into wisdom in old age. Marion later claimed this research as her own. Thus, Carolyn could not publish the research or apply for grants. Carolyn complained to University of Michigan but Dr. Adelman a director of the Institute of Gerontology threatened her and suspended her for insubordination.

Outcome: Because she received no satisfaction, Carolyn took her case to the Washtenaw County Circuit Court, and in 1993 it was found that Marion had committed fraud, and that Dr. Adelman had retaliated against Carolyn. In 1996, the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld that verdict and the university awarded her $1.6m and returned her research data.

The legal question was, Did Marion steal Carolyn's research?

  1. Are there similarities - if no, there is no case,
  2. Did she have access? Yes/No
  3. If copying is proved, then the question is, is the copying illicit?
  4. If illicit-ness is proved, then access and copying are a fact,
  5. If access is not proved, then the creditibility of the appellant's claim is questioned (Lindey (1952:196).
One advantage of using a legal approach for examining plagiarism fraud is that unintentional research outcomes are separated from malicious intentional deception: a clear line is drawn between illegal acts, improper professional conduct, and immorality. As Doob points out, 'One of the few nice things about being charged with a criminal offense is that the charge is clear: a specific person is charged with having committed a specific offense at a more-or-less specific time' (cited in La Follette: 35). Marion had access, she had intent, and she 'stole' data. The courts found her guilty. Refer to Appendix C to see how the legal profession judged the Hong Kong case, and what university examiners' conclusions about the purported plagiarisms were.

LaFollette (65) notes that unlike university considerations, worth or usefulness is not the issue in law: any examination is about a passage in relation to the total work. The legal intention is always [emphasis added] relative to society's needs. An example is the 1976 revision of the American Copyright Act as a response to changing needs:

Ever more periodicals, increased electronic indexing and dissemination, high speed photocopiers and scanners, and an accelerating publishing pace in many 'hot' research fields all coincide with normal economic pressures on publishing (cited in La Follette: 64).
It seems that plagiarism is 'self-evident': a person is not required to prove mis-representation or that he/she was damaged as a result of plagiarism (Sise, 1991: 405). However, not everyone agrees that plagiarism is a crime in 2000. Brahams (1995) demonstrates this view (see Appendix D). The litigation between Professor Williams, who was accused of plagiarism in his doctoral thesis, and Dr. Spautz (the accuser- both men worked at Newcastle University, Australia), is another example. Ultimately Dr. Spautz, who was dismissed for misconduct in 1980, bought a defamation action against Williams and others. His misconduct was that he plagued Professor Williams and members of the university senate after Professor Williams was cleared of academic fraud.

Fabrication, falsification, salami-slicing - other forms of misconduct

Fabrication is defined as 'force[ing] or fake[ing] a document (Macquarie Encylopedic Dictionary, 1990: 327). It is an intentional act 'to deceive by willingly giving false results, or omitting important information that does not suit the research: to invent a story', to lie, to forge a document and pass it off as one's own, to make money by false means (LaFollette, 1992). Famous cases of fabrication concerned, (1) Cyril Burt's extensive fabrications of referee reports[19], (2) Gullis' apparently fabricated [one] phase of his research who was caught when the tests could not be replicated (44), and (3) 'The case of the Altered Notebooks' which involved Imanishi-Kari's application for a NIH grant LaFollette: 57).[20] Other famous cases include fabrication by Australian Professor William McBride, and the Australian academic, head of the Australian Council of Social Services, Mr. McKenzie (see Appendix E).

Falsification is a major aspect of American scientific misconduct (Pownall, 1999: 377). For example of 150 cases investigated, 76 cases involved falsification and fabrication, but also included plagiarism. The Summerlin case, the first case prosecuted as a result of Congressional investigations, caused widespread anger and disappointment. But it was no less sensational than Breuning's indictment for falsifying data and impeding investigations into his work (Wheeler, 1988: A4, A12). An overview of Summerlin's misconduct is given in the next vignette.

Summerlin, a case of fabrication in LaFollette (1992: 214)

Details: Summerlin, a dermatologist, admitted that in 1974 he used a felt-tip ink marker to darken skin grafts on two white mice...to make it appear that the experiments had been successful. Upon investigation, more data were uncovered; more mis-representations were found.

Outcome: Summerlin was disbarred from government grants for twelve months.

Co-authorships - another form of misconduct

Dalton (1987) asserts that multiple co-authorships stain co-authors. For LaFollette (95) it is 'a cheap way of increasing apparent productivity.' She reports that criticisms by the Congressional Committee and the level of misconduct [co-authored articles in biomedical journals rose from the mid-70s to 1981 by 67%, and in other medical journals by 98%][21] led editors and university officials to try and define authorship. Some felt that it was unrealistic to expect authors to 'see' the problem at the time: Korn disagreed, stating that 'I do not think that co-authors are free to reap all the credits...and ...disclaim any responsibility'(LaFollette: 104).The most sensational case of co-authorship misconduct was the Darsee (Harvard Medical School) which follows:

The Darsee cased; A case of Co-authorships cited in La Follette (8)

Details: Darsee, an energetic post-doc, regarded as a brilliant scholar, worked with eminent cardiologist, Eugene Braunwald. In 1981 Darsee was accused of manipulating, inventing, or otherwise compromising the integrity of data reported in over a dozen co-authored papers and over fifty abstracts based on his Harvard cardiology research. Harvard's and the National Institute of Health (NIH) investigation reports were published in 1982 and 1983. The remaining query centred on the role of co-authors named in the articles.

Outcome: Most co-authors denied any knowledge of the articles claiming that they were honorary: they did not contribute to the research or write the articles. The co-authors were 'scientific' stars, often 'free-riding' on their reputation. Darsee was dismissed.

The OIG were shocked at this level of misconduct. Moreover, whereas universities were familiar with plagiarism and copyright violations, which had hitherto been dealt with in-house, 'honorary' co-uthorship was an unheard-of issue that was not covered by rules, and people wanted public answers.[22] The Slutsky and Gupta cases, two such examples, are reported in Appendix D.

Multiple Instances of Misconduct

The following cases of multiple misconduct were reported in Boyes, R (2000). Ersatz in the ranks: Fakers and copying are giving academic research a bad name. In, The Australian, Higher Education Supplement. (2000, September 23: 16).

Details: a) Herrmann, an eminent German researcher, faked data in 94 cases. Moreover, Mertelsmann, the chief oncologist at the Freibert University Clinic was drawn into the case because he added his name to the research.

Details: b) Another case reported by Boyes, refers to a German University of Erlangen moral philosopher who is reputed to have plagiarised 30% of a 1988 work of an Oxford philosopher Urmson.

Outcome: The German Research Community is hearing witnesses and has introduced an Ombudsman to listen to complaints from doctoral students who feel that their research has been stolen or copied.


This part defined and provided an overview of misconduct and considered the legal aspects of plagiarism based on the American scientific community. The case studies cited in the text and appendices include instances of misconduct, fabrication, salami-slicing, and co-authorship. There was also an example of multiple misconduct.

However, while level of misconduct may have been biased by the level and prestige of the grants, it is likely that misconduct is the ugly side of research everywhere. The next part examines 'excuses' for misconduct, and provides a guide for managing research misconduct.

Overcoming the problem

Why does misconduct occur? LaFollette (14) notes that as authorship came to 'carry potential for profit', plagiarism became a matter of concern for authors and publishers. Dickson (1984) describes what happened as the beginning of not only 'new politics', but 'new economics.' LaFollette (27) reports it this way:
The controversy over scientific fraud and misconduct, although initially framed as a philosophical or psychological problem, as a disagreement over standards of morality, exemplifies this shift for it now derives much of its political energy from assumptions about the value of scientific knowledge and expertise. Scientific ideas seem worth stealing.
Thus as instances of misconduct emerged and society's trust diminished, scientists dismissed them as little mischiefs (18), claiming that scientific knowledge was a major new commodity (27). Universities, scientists, and institutes argued in defence that scientists (in this case) engaged in 'good practices' and were by and large, trustworthy: that they were scapegoats, and that claims of misconduct were exaggerated (60). Kerr (1989: 143) agreed that:
Occasionally fabricated, distorted or misrepresented...an analysis is sometimes faulty...the system checks and balances...takes good care of these errors...unscrupulously ambitious scientists and scholars [are]...usually caught and discredited.
Nevertheless, scientists continued to claim that the peer review system worked (13) even though peer reviews had failed to uncover fraud (24). They even argued in the Summerlin case, that he 'was a good man.' They tried to frame the debate to suit themselves rationalising criticism away by persisting with certain explanations of what was happening (13), using an intellectual grid on which to impose the history of political controversy, suggesting that somehow misconduct was different now: that social values had changed, citing stock exchange fraud and financial misstatement as examples (35).

The pressure for reform continued, however. Woolf (1987) refuted the notion that pressure to publish was an adequate excuse, and Freedman (1988) stated firmly that professors or students who plagiarised should not be excused or treated cautiously. Mazur (1989), complained that universities treated allegations of dishonesty lightly, and Wheeler (1987) reported that one third of scientists surveyed suspected a colleague of fraudulent research. Bracey (1987) took an extreme view of misconduct by recommending that research journals be abolished because too many of them included too much about too little, while Coughlin (1989) claimed that editorial bias made it necessary to scrutinise journal practices.

Buzelli (1993) blames monitoring organisations claiming that the National Academy of Sciences' (NAS) proposals to weaken misconduct definitions for research institutions and government agencies by limiting them, was done to protect NAS's reputation, should fraud occur.[23] For example, when an academic used his influence and authority over students to gain sexual favours it was not until the OIG proved the 'deviation' that the researcher academic agreed to a five-year debarment from the federal grant support. The NAS regarded this as an 'other deviation', unrelated to science!

Unfortunately 'outing' cheats is not simple. LaFollette (217, 219, 223, 245) reports that even after Burt was discredited, his data 'on inheritability of intelligence continued to influence British educational policy,'[24] and whether The Piltdown Forgery was a hoax that went wrong is still being debated.[25] Moreover, available evidence suggested that academics do not take misconduct seriously. For example, Frazier, who was forced to resign was reinstated and later honoured by fellow psychiatrists (cited in LaFollette (247). In addition, Cordes (1990) expressed concern that journal reviews were poor.[26] As Evans noted long ago:

The closeness with which one crime follows upon another, and the similarity of the motive that lies at the bottom of them all, will sufficiently show that they do not represent perverseness of individual natures, but are so many indices of a depreciated, and apparently bad, moral atmosphere that has of late pervaded the whole of the commercial world (cited in LaFollette (217).
Universities cannot ignore the problem: they cannot continue to claim that there may be legal consequences, because in the scientists' case, Wheeler (1989) reports, for example, that the Congress Committee will prosecute those who fabricate results. Nor can they argue that the research community has been willing and capable of policing itself.[27] Woolf (1991) reports that 'several distinguished universities were technically in violation of law' regarding misconduct, ' not for months but for years.'

The stain of misconduct on society

This subject is so wide that it is impossible to address ethical issues in one paper. That will have to wait. It is possible however to provide a few quick-fix solutions.

Widespread misconduct has three detrimental outcomes: (1) poor management, (2) it retardation of intellectual progress, and (3), diminishment of the nation's intellectual property [and reputation]. Thus, it must be monitored by employing institutions [including universities] who were not forthcoming when misconduct was alleged.

Poor management

The solution begins with universities. It is an institutional moral lapse for them to pretend that plagiarism is only a personal matter (White: 208), or that exposure may lead to charges of invasion of privacy (LeClercq: 198). Poor management favours cheats, demoralises staff, lowers the tone of the entity, and denies young researchers a good research environment. For example, universities have been accused of self-interest: they have been, (1) chastised (Wheeler, 1987), (2) accused of condoning plagiarism (Raymond, 1989), and (3) of lying about staff (Cordes, 1991). The plagiarised author, Nissenbaum (1990), urged 'That plagiarists in Academe...Face Formal Sanctions.[28] Wheeler (1987) reported a scientist and urged researchers to take responsibility for detecting misconduct, and Ayala (1989), referring to co-authorships, pointed out how questions of protocol and propriety corrupt young scientists.

At the same time poor management punishes 'whistleblowers.' For example, accusers point to the treatment of Stewart and Feder, whistleblowers[29], who were vilified when they investigated the Darsee/Bridge cases. LaFollette (9-12) reports that the men were accused of libel, meanness, vindictiveness, reported to the Health Authorities and dismissed.

The dilemma of Stewart and Feder, whistleblowers, cited in LaFollette (9-12):

Details: Stewart and Feder, two biologists, who worked in the NIH began to analyse and write about the Darsee co-authors, bluntly identifying them by name or citing them in their research. Their trials and tribulations are famous. Not being scientists posed credibility problems for them when it came to publishing. One of the journals they approached was co-sponsored by MIT and Massachussets University (MU) and published by John Wiley & Sons (JW). While both institutions agreed that the editor had control over the journal's content, the contract between the MIT, MU and JW required that all copies for publication be free of libel (12). These policies were at odds with each other so the conflicts were not resolved, and the article was not published.

Outcome: After Stewart and Feder gave evidence before the House Committee on the Judiciary, the manuscript was published in Congressional Record in 1986, thereby overcoming the above difficulties.

Retardation of intellectual progress

Plagiarism violates a moral code of learning: it fails to recognise that lack of attribution reduces the development of the cognitive structure of a discipline (Bazerman, 1999: 243).
Citation is a ...means by which scholarly writers transform their discourse from the 'dialectical' conversation among members within a disciplinary community into 'ultimate discourse' that represents the discipline as a whole.
The systematic aspect of misconduct is worrying (54). The 1994 Australian Senate Inquiry into 'Whistleblowing', In the Public Interest, demonstrates that 'sectors of academia were operating as isolated pockets of tyranny'(141).

Diminishment of a nation's integrity

The peer system is fallible. 'A single...[hour]... hearing reveals clearly that no common glossary of standards, neither high nor ordinary exists' (LaFollette: 30). Stearns (1999:12) contends that 'plagiarism is a diffuse offence against society.' It harms the creative process and participants, plagiarists, authors of copied works, other writers and scholars and the public: it is an insidious consequence of misconduct that cannot be measured. Everyone, good and bad alike suffers, because trust is diminished as society's expectations are not met.

Four safeguards are required:

  1. All universities should document and circulate procedures to deal with academic misconduct. LaFollette (223) quotes the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Report of the Faculty Committee (University of California at San Diego) ad hoc Committee to Investigate Fraud. Most Australian Universities have ethical standards but they are defensive about publicising misconduct and tend to pay people off and let them go, unscathed.

  2. simple statements that are easy to institutionalise are required. Kennedy (cited in LaFollette: 93-94), recommends specifically that principles defining authorship be put in place to ensure tight-coupling between authorship and responsibility for fraudulent or just careless work. He proposes that authors discuss and agree about dividing up credit and responsibility before a research project begins, and identifying respective contributions to books, essays, chapters, and other collective works.

  3. co-authors should be required to demonstrate that they have completed at least two of the following activities, (1) conceiving the topic, (2) completing the experiment, (3) conducting hands-on lab work or field work, (4) analysing the data or, (5) writing the article (Relman: 100-101, cited in LaFollette). In addition it is recommended that staff supervising student work be placed last on the author list.

  4. that whistleblowers be protected. Weiss (1991) claims that whistleblowers often lose their jobs and their careers. Moreover, The 1994 Australian Senate Inquiry into Whistleblowing, In the Public Interest, accepted that 'direct suppression and indirect suppression which takes the form of implied or overt threat of sanctions or because of a general climate of fear or pressures for conformity', is a fact (143).
The last word is attributed to Lord Denning (quoted in In the Public Interest) that:
...the duty of confidentiality [is] overridden by the public interest in receiving information of misconduct and that the extent of the public interest should be wide extending to crime, frauds and misdeeds and any given misconduct that ought to be in the public interest.


Anon. (1996). Chinese researchers debate rash of plagiarism cases. Science, 274 (5286), 337-342.

Ayala, A. (1989, November 22). For young scientists, questions of protocol and propriety can be bewildering. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 36.

Barcan, A. (1997). The Liberal University: Death and Reconfiguration. Education Research and Perspectives, 24 (2), 1-28.

Beam, C. (1996). Ruth and consequences. The Magazine for Management, 25(4), 14.

Bowers, N. (1997). Words for the Taking. New York. W. W. Norton & Company.

Boyes, R. (2000, August). Ersatz in the Ranks. The Australian, Higher Education Supplement.

Bracey, G. (1987, March 25) The time has come to abolish research journals: Too many are writing too much about too little. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 44-45.

Brahams, D. (1995). Conflicting views on alleged plagiarism. The Lancet, 345 (8946), 379-383.

Buranen, L., & Roy, A. (Eds) (1999). Perspectives on Plagiarism and Intellectual Property in the Postmodern World. New York. State University of New York Press.

Butterworths ONLINE. http://www.butterworths.com/

Buzzelli, D. (1993). The definition of misconduct in science: a view from the NSF. Science, 259 (5095), 594-599.

Calvacca, L. (1996, July). Some words about stolen words. The Magazine for Management, 25(10): 15-16.

Campbell (1987). Ethical Issues in the Research Publication Process. In S. A. Payne and B. Charnov (Eds), Ethical Dilemmas for Academic Professionals. Illinois, Charles Thomas.

Carroll, J. (1982). Plagiarism: The Unfun Game. English Journal, 92-94.

Charatan, F. (1997). Psychologist wins damages over theft of research. British Medical Journal: International Edn, 315(7107), 501.

Chubin, D. (1985, Summer).Misconduct Research: An Issue of Science Policy and Practice. Minerva, 23, 175-202.

Commonwealth of Australia. (1994, August). Report of the Senate Select Committee on Public Interest Whistleblowing.

Cordes, C. (1991, March 13). Professor asserts Stanford lied to US about misconduct probe. Chronicle of Higher Education, A24.

Coughlin, E. (1989, February 15). Concerns about Fraud, Editorial Bias Prompt Scrutiny of Journal Practices. Chronicle of Higher Education, A6.

Crain & Carruth (1992, Fall). Academic accounting research: Opinions of academicians on recommendations for improving ethical behavior. The Accounting Educators Journal, 4, 27-46.

Culliton, B. (1988). Harvard Psychiatrist Resigns. Science, 242(4883), 1239-1240.

Dalton, R. (1987, May). Multiple authorships stain co-authors. The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 18, A4.

Darville, H. (1994). The Hand that Signed the Paper. NSW, Allen & Unwin.

Dickson, D. (1984). The New Politics of Science. New York, Pantheon.

Dyer, C. (1995). Hong Kong doctor cleared of plagiarism. British Medical Journal, Intl. Edn, 310(6980), 618-619.

Engle, T., & Smith, J. (1990). The ethical standards of accounting academics. Issues in Accounting Education, 5(1), 7-29.

Farthing, M. (1997, July). Research Misconduct. GUT, 41(1), 1.

Fitzgerald, M. (1995). Editor quits after admitting he plagiarised. Editor & Publisher, 128(11), 11-12.

Freedman, M. (1988, February 10). Plagiarism among professors or students should not be excused or treated gingerly. The Chronicle of Higher Education, A48.

Garrow, D. (1990, April 18). A law defining 'fair use' of unpublished sources is essential to the future of american scholarship. Chronicle of Higher Education, A48.

Gates, J. (1999). Don't distribute unless you attribute. The Masthead, 51(1), 23-24.

Goodstein, D. (1992). Comment: Stealing into print: Fraud, plagiarism, and misconduct in scientific publishing. Science, 258(5087), 1503-9.

Handy (1997, November 24). Steven Stealberg. Time, New York, 150(22), 99-100.

Haywood, I. (1987). Faking It: Art and the Politics of Forgery. London: The Harvester Press.

Holden, C. (1987). Researcher accused of plagiarism resigns. Science, 237, 1098-1101.

Howard, R. (1998). The New Abolition Comes to Plagiarism. In L. Buranen, & A. Roy (Eds) (1999), Perspectives on Plagiarism and Intellectual Property in the Postmodern World. New York. State University of New York Press.

Kelmar, J. (1994). Plagiarism: The Epidemic of the Decade. Presentation at the Teaching Learning Forum held at Edith Cowan University, 8-10 February.

Kerr, C. (1989). The Academic Ethic and University Teachers: A 'Disintegrating Profession'? Minerva, (1989, Summer-Autumn), 139-156.

Keys, D. & & Hendricks, J. (1984).The ethics of accounting research. Journal of Accounting Education, 2, 77-88.

Kock, N. (1999). A case of academic plagiarism. Communications of the ACM, 42(7), 96-104.

LaFollette, M. (1992). Stealing into Print: Fraud, Plagiarism, and Misconduct in Scientific Publishing. Berkeley: University of California Press.

LaRochelle, G. (1999). From Kant to Foucault: What remains of the Author in Postmodernism. In L. Buranen, & A. Roy (Eds), Perspectives on Plagiarism and Intellectual Property in the Postmodern World. New York. State University of New York Press.

LeClercq, T. (1999). Confusion and Conflict about Plagiarism in Law Schools and Law Practice. In L. Buranen, & A. Roy (Eds). Perspectives on Plagiarism and Intellectual Property in the Postmodern World. New York. State University of New York Press.

Leight, D. (1999). Plagiarism as metaphor. In L. Buranen & A. Roy (Eds), Perspectives on Plagiarism and Intellectual Property in the Postmodern World. New York. State University of New York Press.

Lieberman, T. (1995, July). Plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize... only be sure always to call it research. Columbia Journalism Review, 34(2), 21-23.

Lindey, A. (1952). Plagiarism and Originality. New York: Harper Brothers Publishers.

Livingston-Webber, J. (1999). GenX occupies the Cultural Commons: Ethical Practices and Perceptions of Fair use. In L. Buranen & A. Roy (Eds), Perspectives on Plagiarism and Intellectual Property in the Postmodern World. New York. State University of New York Press.

Loeb, S. (1990). A code of ethics for accounting academics. Issues in Accounting Education, 5, 123-128.

Loeb, S. (1994). Ethics and doctoral education. Journal of Business Ethics, 13(10), 817-832.

Macquarie Encylopedic Dictionary (1990). Sydney. Macquarie University.

Malloch, A (1976, October). A dialogue on plagiarism. College English, 38, 165-174.

Mallon, T. (1989). Stolen Words: Forays into the Origins and Ravages of Plagiarism. New York. Ticknor & Fields.

March & Bower (1993).

March & Landau (1995).

Marsh, R., & Bower, G. (1995). Eliciting cryptomnesia: Unconscious plagiarism in a puzzle task. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 19, 673-688.

Marsh, R., & Landau, J. (1985). Item availability in cryptomnesia: Assessing its role on two paradigms of unconscious plagiarism. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 21, 1568-1582.

Martin, R. (1971, May). Plagiarism and originality: Some remedies. English Journal, 60, 621-628.

Maslen, (1993).Unknown. In Campus Review.

Maslen, G. (1993, March). Bureaucratic Plagiarism. Campus Review, 10, 19.

Mazur (1989, Summer-Autumn). Allegations of dishonesty in research and their treatment by American universities. Minerva, 177-194.

McDonald, K. (1988, December 7). Noted Harvard psychiatrist resigns post after faculty group finds he plagiarized. Chronicle of Higher Education, A1, A6.

McDonald, K. (1990, February 28). Big astronomical 'discovery' turns out to be interference signal from television. The Chronicle of Higher Education, A1, A11.

Myers, C. (1990, May 23). House panel renews his criticism of the way universities police scientific misconduct.

Nissenbaum, S. (1990, March 28). The plagiarists in academe must face formal sanctions. The Chronicle of Higher Education, A52.

Norman, C. (1984). Stanford investigates plagiarism charge. Science, 224, 35-36.

O'Toole, R. (1989, January 25). Scientists must be able to disclose colleagues' mistakes without risking their own jobs or financial support. The Chronicle of Higher Education, A44.

Pownall, M (1999). Falsifying data is main problem in US research fraud review. Western Journal of Medicine, 170(6), 377-378.

Raymond, C. (1989, July 12). Institutes of Health find that Purdue Professor plagiarized experiment. Chronicle of Higher Education, A2.

Raymond, C. (1989, July 19). Allegations of plagiarism of scientific manuscript raise concerns about intellectual theft. Chronicle of Higher Education, A5.

Reid, C. (1997). Fact or fiction? Hoax charges still dog 'Roots' 20 years on. Publishers Weekly, 244(41), 16-17.

Rose, S. (1999). The role of scholarly citations in disciplinary economies. In L. Buranen & A. Roy (Eds), Perspectives on Plagiarism and Intellectual Property in the Postmodern World. New York. State University of New York Press.

Saalbach, R. (1970, February). Critical thinking and the problem of plagiarism. CCC, 21, 45-47.

Sachs, H. (1988, October 19). The publication requirement should not be based solely on refereed journals. The Chronicle of Higher Education, B2.

Schaefer, W. (1990, March 7). Much scholarship in the humanities is done badly and probably shouldn't be done at all. The Chronicle of Higher Education, B1-B2.

Spigelman, C. (1999). The Ethics of Appropriation in Peer Writing Groups. In L. Buranen & A. Roy (Eds), Perspectives on Plagiarism and Intellectual Property in the Postmodern World. New York. State University of New York Press.

St. Onge, K. (1988). The Melancholy Anatomy of Plagiarism. Lanham: University Press of America.

Stearns, L. (1999). Copy wrong: Plagiarism, process, property, and the law. In L. Buranen & A. Roy. (Eds), Perspectives on Plagiarism and Intellectual Property in the Postmodern World. New York. State University of New York Press.

Stein, J. (1998). Theft, or cutting corners? Time, 152(7), 86-87.

Stein, M. (1995). Twice burned. Editor & Publisher, 128(23), 13-15.

Stein, M. (1997). Plagiarism unwittingly published. Editor & Publisher, 130(34), 10-11.

Swearingen, C. (1999). Originality, authenticity, imitation, and plagiarism: Augustine's Chinese cousins. In L. Buranen & A. Roy (Eds), Perspectives on Plagiarism and Intellectual Property in the Postmodern World. New York. State University of New York Press.

Tenpenny, P., Keriazakos, M., & Lew, G. (1998). In search of inadvertent plagiarism. American Journal of Psychology, 111(4), 529-551.

Waltman, J. (1980, June). Plagiarism: Preventing it in formal research reports. The ABCA Bulletin, 43, 37-38.

Waring v Dunlea. 26F.Supp.338.D.N.C. 1939. (cited by Sterns). In L. Buranen & A. Roy (Eds), Perspectives on Plagiarism and Intellectual Property in the Postmodern World. New York. State University of New York Press.

Weiss, T. (1989, October 4). Research that the US Government is paying for should not be tainted by any possibility of bias. The Chronicle of Higher Education, A56.

Weiss, T. (1991, June 26). Too many scientists who 'Blow the Whistle' end up losing their jobs. The Chronicle of Higher Education, A52.

Wheeler, D. (1987, February 25). Researchers need to shoulder responsibility for detecting misconduct, scientist warns. Chronicle of Higher Education, 13.

Wheeler, D. (1988, April 27). Researcher is indicted for falsifying data and impeding. Wheeler, D. (1987, June 3). Two universities chastised on fraud investigations. Chronicle of Higher Education, 1, 7.

Wheeler, D. (1991, July 3). US has barred grants to 6 scientists in the past two years. Chronicle of Higher Education, A1, A6-7

Woolf, P. (1987, September 23). Pressure to publish is a lame excuse for scientific fraud. The Chronicle of Higher Education, A36.

Woolf, P. (1991). Accountability and responsibility in research. Journal of Business Ethics, 10(8), 595-601.

Young, (1759). Conjectures on original composition. Leeds: Scolar P, 1966: New York, Garland, 1970.

Zebroski, J. (1999). Intellectual property, authority, and social formation: Sociohistorical perspectives on the author function. In L. Buranen & A. Roy (Eds), Perspectives on Plagiarism and Intellectual Property in the Postmodern World. New York. State University of New York Press.

Zurer, P. (1988, April). Research fraud as criminal offense argued. Chemical & Engineering News, 66, 6.

Appendix A

Types of unethical conduct or misrepresentation in scientific and technical publication

By authors

By referees

By editors or editorial advisors or staff

However, the most significant cause was the focus on individuals rather than on public policy: the notion that the problem was not institutional; that one researcher may be guilty of moral misconduct, but that does not make the rest 'rotten.'

Appendix B

Single instances of plagiarism in Kock, N. (1999, July). A case of academic plagiarism. Communications of the ACM. New York.

Vignette 1

Details: The author reports the finding by a colleague of an article he published two years'prior in a well-known research journal, under another's name. The plagiarised paper was rejected by the journal editor, and in time Kock got more facts from his colleague.

Outcome: It took time but the publishers eventually extracted an apology from the plagiarist.

Farthing, M. (1997, July). Research misconduct. Editor of GUT?

Vignette 2

Details:This case reports overt plagiarism in an article about Helocabacter pylori associated with gastric ulcers. The plagiarism was reported to the senior author who eventually acknowledged the plagiarism and attributed it to an inexperienced junior, a first researcher.

Outcome: No action was taken by the journal editor.

Xiguang, Li & Ziong Lei. (1996), October). Chinese researchers debate rash of plagiarism cases. Science, 1-3.

Vignette 3 (a)

Details: In 1994, five Chinese researchers, one a university Vice President and a prominent molecular biologist, published a paper in a Dutch-based journal about manipulating resistance to tobacco and other agriculturally important plants. One third of the article was copied from a 1989 article. The principal researcher, Pan Aihua was reported to the Editor of the Journal by a British Columbian academic. The Editor's investigation found that plagiarism had occurred.

Outcome: Pan was removed from his position and installed as general manager of a Chinese university-owned technology company.

Xiguang, Li., & Xiong Lei (1996, October). Chinese researchers debate rash of plagiarism cases. Science, 3.

Vignette 3 (b)

Details: In 1990, a lecturer at China Mining University copied the whole text of a paper co-authored with a Turkish professor and an Italian scholar which had been published in Italy, and submitted it [with a new title] to a Swiss physics journal.

Outcome: The lecturer confessed to his misconduct, resigned his position and left academic research.

Xiguang, Li., & Xiong Lei (1996, October). Chinese researchers debate rash of plagiarism cases. Science, 4.

Vignette 3 (c)

Details: Wang Ruidan, an associate professor at Hunan Norma University copied six papers published by Ma Dongping and sent them to the Journal of Chemistry and Physics.

Outcome: Wang was demoted to lecturer.

Holden, C. (1987, September). Researcher accused of plagiarism resigns. Science, 3.

Vignette 4

Details: Shamberger plagiarized a report from an academy's Diet, Nutrition and Cancer Report and published the work in a book on nutrition and cancer. The plagiarism was discovered during a hearing held by the Federal Trade Commission when Shamberger appeared as an expert witness. When he failed to convince publishers that his intentions were honourable, the book was withdrawn.

Outcome: Shamberger resigned his position.

Wheeler, D. (1988, December 7). Noted Harvard psychiatrist resigns posts after faculty group finds he plagiarised. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 35.

Vignette 5

Details: H. Frazier, a well-known academic psychiatrist plagiarised four review papers between 1966 and 1975. His misconduct was reported to the Medical school Dean by Scatena, an academic of the University of Rochester.

Outcome: Harvard demanded Frazier's resignation when the allegations of plagiarizing were verified.

Norman, C. (1984, April). Stanford investigates plagiarism charge. Science, 1-3.

Vignette 6

Details: K. Melmon incorporated large chunks of material from a book he helped to edit into a chapter of a new book. The first book was copyrighted.

Outcome: He apologised and offered to forego royalties. The publishers settled an action with the real authors.[30]

It is noteworthy that each author admitted that he/she copied someone's else's words: that they plagiarised. With the exception of vignettes 4 (a), (b) and (c), the authors of which may not have understood the 'rules', each author stole someone else's work.

Appendix C

A case of conflicting points of view

Brahams, D. (1995, February). Conflicting Views on Alleged Plagiarism. The Lancet, 345 (8946): 379.

Details: Two academics (Dr Koo and Professor Ho, from Hong Kong University) sued one of their colleagues alleging breach of copyright.

Outcome: The Judge and the Court of Appeal held that Dr Lam did plagiarise 'Dr Koo's questionnaire in the preparation of his own.

Sequel: The university conducted its own inquiry. Members criticised Koo and Ho for not cooperating.

Outcome: Lam was exonerated, the university claiming that 'in the 1980s there was no copyright or confidentiality in questionnaires'. Lam still has to pay the legal costs and has the burden of an adverse legal finding.

Appendix D

Instances of fabrication: the case of Breuning, S. cited in La Follette (25)

Vignette 1

Details: Breuning was indicted for fabricating research reports to the federal government. His research data were widely circulated and accepted by practitioners. Furthermore, his research had been used to help hundreds of hyperactive children.

Outcome: He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to community service, and a substantial fine.

Other cases of scientific fabrication cases, in Farthing, M. (1997, July). Research misconduct. Editor of GUT.

Vignette 2

Details: Another form of misconduct concerns 'salami slicing': the conversion of one paper into several papers. Each monoclonal antibody was reported in a separate paper.

Outcome: Salami-slicing is another instance of misconduct, deemed to be at the lower end of misconduct. It is the act of publishing repeat articles etc. Two examples are given to demonstrate the offence.

Farthing, M. (1997, July). Research misconduct. Editor of GUT.

Vignette 3

Details: This case deals with overt redundant publication [salami-slicing] or the publishing of one paper that overlaps with one that has already been published. One reviewer observed that the paper had been published in another journal: the overlap was about 80%. This article added very little to the original.

Outcome: The authors when pressured ultimately agreed with the reviewer that this was a duplicate publication. A similar, less overt case of overlap was also discovered.

Professor McBride - a case of Fabrication: Source ABC TV. Details: Professor McBride of Thalidimide fame, undertook using Devon.Dox to prove its potential. Vardi joined Foundation (McBride was the research leader) and worked with him on the project. Rats and rabbits (16) were used in the experiment result of which were published as a general report in the Biological Sciences. Upon publication Vardi discovered that the data did not agree with his research. He checked his 'orange file' and discovered that the number of rabbits was changed: the research had been fabricated. He confronted Professor McBride who claimed it was changed while he was away and expressed disappointment with Vardi. He asked him to rework the data so as to deny the claims. Vardy left his employ. McBride claimed that he was a victim of a campaign.. Outcome: Vardy who had met Robin Williams contacted him to seek his support. When the case came to court Chief Justice Gibbs found McBride guilty of fraud.

Appendix E

Instances of multiple co-authorship: the case of Slutsky, R., cited in LaFollette (98)

Vignette 1

Details: Slutsky of the University of California, a radiology lecturer/researcher, was accused of fabricating data. Ultimately he was accused of 'honorary authorship misconduct. University investigators first identified material inconsistencies in his work and then noted that he had created a paper every ten days (161 papers over 6.5 years) and covered up his fraud by using the names of young researchers, post-doctoral researchers, and others in the lab.

Outcome: He was dismissed.

The case of Gupta, Jit., cited in La Follette (102)

Vignette 2

Details: Gupta, an Indian geologist, eminent in his field, had been co-authoring articles with many international paleontologists, including Australian geologists, since the 1960s. In 1989, Talent, an Australian paleontologist, published a paper claiming misconduct [fakery] in over 300 papers, specifically that fossils' origins, confirmed by Gupta as coming from India, most likely came from Morocco.

Outcome: Gupta vigoursly denied the charges.


  1. Greenberg (The Politics of Pure Science, 1967), identified the political nature of scientific research. He noted that scientists had become increasingly political in the period 1940-1960 in their discussions with government.

  2. LaFollette reports that regulation was thought to be inconsistent with the aims of deregulation.

  3. See page 24 LaFollette. She notes that by '1988 many influential members of Congress had begun to lose patience with the pace of investigations and the development of institutional policies...[by] various congressional committees for over seven years.'

  4. For information about the research in Science see: Culliton (1974), May: 644-650, and June: 1157); Broad (1980, October), (1981, April 10, April 17, and July, 3 and (1982) October 1; Kuttner (1985): 466; Anon (1986):534, Culliton (1987, July 1: 18-21; Lindberg (1987); Kolata (1987); Booth (1989): 598, Dickson (1988): Williams and Booth (1988, April 15); Driver (1988, June 6); Byrne (1988, October 7).

  5. LaFollette (213) advises that information about this case is published in The Patchwork Mouse.

  6. Barcan (1997) says that the incidence of misconduct in Australia is high.

  7. The whereabouts of this information was first discovered in Loeb, 1994.

  8. Reprinted with permission (42) is the misconduct classification developed by Chubin shown here in Appendix A.

  9. All these references are cited in Carroll (1982). Plagiarism: The Unfun Game: The Language Game. English Journal, 92-94.

  10. Some of these definitions are taken from Kelmar, 1994.

  11. See Bowers (1997). He is a poet who was plagiarised. He felt it so personally that he pursued the plagiariser because he claimed that the act of plagiarism robbed him of his poetry and his being.

  12. William Strong describes the implications of the law in the Copyright Book.

  13. LaFollette, page 223 (42), quotes the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's "Procedures for dealing with academic fraud in Research and Scholarship", for example.

  14. LaRochelle (1999: 122) reports that 'the institutions of production, distribution and consumption of books' had to be acknowledged before the origins of their respective rights could be known and defined.

  15. Rose (1999: 242) contends that the notion of intellectual capital may be a more apt description than intellectual property for 'the exploration of the ways in which citations of scholarly discourse contribute to the disciplinary economy...whereas intellectual property ...suggests a material reality,....intellectual capital...allows us to explore characteristics...by which the work is valued.'

  16. Swearingen (1999: 25) claims that the notion of individual ownership is widely disputed as having been supplanted by social constructionist and collaborative models of the writing process.

  17. Originality is defined in Macquarie's1990 Encyclopedic Dictionary (667) as: (1) 'belonging or pertaining to the origin or beginning of something, or to a thing at its beginning; (2) being that from which a copy, a translation or the like is made; and (3) an original work, writing, or the like as opposed to any copy or imitation' (see also Lindey: 17).

  18. Strict 'originality' is an issue and hotly debated in 2000.

  19. She apparently falsified and fabricated results to 'support the paper' (224), and McDonald (1990: A1, A11) cites the astronomical discovery that turned out to be television interference.

  20. LaFollette (1992: 95) reports that in 1930 The Lancet had 1.3 authors: by 1975 the number was 4.3 authors. In answer to a question about why this rise had occurred, Price replied that it was ' cheap way of increasing apparent productivity.' The problem leads to another problem: that of the least publishable unit syndrome, the practice of publishing multiple versions describing the same project to let each author be the lead author.

  21. See LaFollette (238) for comment by NIH officials at the level of co-authorship fraud.

  22. He cites the outcomes of fraud case referrals by [his] the National Science Foundation (NSF) to the Office of [the] Inspector General (OIG). At June 1992, 124 cases had been received, approximately 70 covered plagiarism, theft of ideas, or failure to give credit. At July 31, 67 cases were closed: eight (8) were NSF cases. Universities reviewed each case: three cases of misconduct, all involving serious plagiarism, were found. While three cases involved plagiarism, the other involved 'other serious deviations' from acceptable practice.

  23. LaFallotte (57) notes that Burt is alleged to have fabricated up to half of the 'contributed reviews, notes, and letters' over the 16 years he was the editor/co-editor of the British Journal of Psychology. Most of the fabrications or forgeries related to his own work: he fabricated and published comments on his work in other names to gain notoriety

  24. See LaFollette (225) who quotes Lukas (1981:424-427, who poses the question, was it a hoax that went too far? Or a deliberate scientific forgery or as it now appears, nothing at all?

  25. See LaFollette (252) for details of the debate about Dr. Benveniste's 'high-dilution' experiments.

  26. See LaFollette (219) for a comment by scientists that they did not need the government to set up and ethics oversight committee.

  27. See Mallon (184) who reports that Nissenbaum was disgusted when Sokolow proposed that he acknowledge his plagiarism in an errata, and apologise for 'his lamentable breach of scholarly courtesy and ethics.

  28. There is also Vardi, who reported Professor McBride and left his job.

  29. See Follette (228) for the debate, involving many writers, about the Yale University professor, the assertion of cover-up, and Yale's ultimate decision to put in place a plan to manage fraud charges.
Author: P. A. Addison
School of Accounting
Curtin University of Technology
GPO Box U1987, Perth WA 6845, Australia
Telephone: +61 8 9266 7567
Email: addisonp@cbs.curtin.edu.au

Please cite as: Addison, P. A. (2001). Academic misconduct, definitions, legal issues, and management. In A. Herrmann and M. M. Kulski (Eds), Expanding Horizons in Teaching and Learning. Proceedings of the 10th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 7-9 February 2001. Perth: Curtin University of Technology. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2001/addison2.html

[ Abstract for this article ] [ TL Forum 2001 Proceedings Contents ] [ All Abstracts ] [ TL Forums Index ]
HTML: Roger Atkinson, Teaching and Learning Centre, Murdoch University [rjatkinson@bigpond.com]
This URL: http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2001/addison2.html
Last revision: 4 Feb 2002. Curtin University of Technology
Previous URL 24 Dec 2000 to 4 Feb 2002 http://cleo.murdoch.edu.au/confs/tlf/tlf2001/addison2.html