Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Policies and Procedures on Plagiarism and Professional Misconduct

A number of comments here on the blog have been related to policies and procedures that the University of Alberta has in place to handle allegations of misconduct with fairness and due diligence. For those who wish to know more about the policies and procedures by which the university examines allegations of plagiarism and professional misconduct by employees, this information is publicly available in UAPPOL under both the Ethical Conduct and Safe Disclosure Policy and the Research and Scholarship Integrity Policy. For academic employees see also Article 16 of the Academic Staff Agreement.

The process as it applies to students is available in the Code of Student Behaviour under “The Discipline Process”.


  1. I think it is important for all to realize the implications of item 16.2 in Article 16 of the Academic Staff Agreement:

    "All communications under this Article shall be marked as confidential...

    which I believe (please correct me if I am wrong) means that since it is now in the complaint process, that the University can no longer publicly comment on what is going on? So it may be some time before we get any more information on how this issue is being handled. It's too bad there isn't anything in the article about communicating the status of the procedures to the public, particularly when this has received such high profile coverage in national and international media.

  2. No double standards. That is all.

  3. The fact that an alleged misconduct is being publicised widely nationally and internationally should not affect how an institution handle its internal affairs. Public opinion is a forum for observers to express their views on events and occurrences that are brought to the public attenion by the media and other channels. However, an employer's process and decision with respect to disciplinary matters is the sole business between the employer and its employees.
    I applaud Dr. Atul Gawande's spokesman's remark that he declined to comment on Dean Baker's using his speech at the commencement banquet. 'It is a matter between Dean Baker and the University of Alberta.' He knows his place.

  4. These sections of the Ethical Conduct and Safe Disclosure document do not bode well for Dean Baker:


    All representatives of the University of Alberta shall maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct, in which their actions and behaviours uphold the principles of integrity, respect and accountability, supported by awareness of and compliance with relevant University policies and procedures, collective agreements, government legislation and relevant professional standards.


    Failure to comply with this policy may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment and prosecution if appropriate.

    I also read Section 16, however, and am disheartened that rules of confidentialy may prevent information about this matter being made public. Given that Deans are employees of a publically funded institution, I believe the public has a right to know the results of the investigation. How else will we have the opportunity to come to our own conclusions based on the facts?

    These policies were posted on this blog as a result of previous comments from readers, so here is something that I would like to ask be clarified. It has been made clear Dean Baker will receive due process. An investigation will take place. A decision rendered. Obviously, the public will be informed of the decision (he remains employed, is demoted, resign etc.), but will the rational for the decision and statement of facts be released as well?

  5. I would agree with you except we're talking about a Dean and medical doctor who has publicly acknowledged that he violated standard ethics for academics and medical doctors. Even if he had made up the speech himself, the fact remains that he blatantly lied about his personal and professional experiences in public venue. Its a no-brainer that the guy should be out by now. And this is precisely why most universities don't have the Deans in the professional associations. When you take that job as a public leader, you do waive your rights to at least some of the privacy that other faculty have.

  6. The disciplinary committee at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun, Poland ruled in a similar case to fine the plagiarist, made him pay the annual salary to the person he plagiarized from, and to prohibit him from taking any academic position for eight years throughout Poland.

    Plagiarism in Poland is also a criminal offense carrying a sentence of imprisonment for up to three years. Recently, an assistant professor from the same school got a one years sentence suspended for three years for pretending that somebody else work was his own (after translation from something like American English to something like Canadian English ;-)

  7. My previous comment @12:35, should read that the university disciplinary committee only initiated the process that lead to the court ruling as stated. Sorry for giving too much power to the university committee.

  8. Its a no-brainer that the guy should be out by now. And this is precisely why most universities don't have the Deans in the professional associations. When you take that job as a public leader, you do waive your rights to at least some of the privacy that other faculty have.


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