More NWU plagiarism claims

2017-08-13 06:01
North-West University

North-West University

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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 co-authors, 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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