U of W cheating scandal

Academic integrity and honesty, two of the University of Waterloo’s (UW) most defining values, are being called into question amid a plagiarism scandal that has plagued the university in recent weeks.

Dongqing Li, a professor at UW, who holds the Canada Research Chair in microfluidics and nanofluidics, and Yasaman Daghighi, a graduate student of UW, nearing completion of her PhD, issued a retraction earlier this summer, regarding a 2010 article that was published in Li’s journal, Microfluidics and Nanofluidics, titled “Induced-charge electrokinetic phemonena.”

Li had formerly been the recipient of over two million dollars in federal research grants. He had also been promised an additional $700,000 in funding for science research.

According to this statement, which can be found through Retraction Watch, a website that tracks retractions, “The article has been retracted by request of the authors.”

Furthermore, the retraction stated that “unaltered text” was taken from a research paper originally from scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California in Santa Barbara. In addition to the unaltered text, there were also issues with proper referencing.

So far, Li and Daghighi have declined to make statements.

While UW has remained relatively quiet in regards to this retraction, and consequently the affects it will have for the academic institution, Tim Jackson, vice president of university relations at UW, commented on the broad values and procedures the university has in effect for this type of academic misconduct.

“When we became aware of the allegations, we dealt with it through our regular process, which starts with the department, then the faculty, then senior leadership,” Jackson said.

“I think the university has been very clear that academic integrity and honesty are defining values for us as an institution, so that’s the message that we’ve been trying to deliver to the media.”

Consequences for truthful allegations range in severity.

“In the case of a faculty member, they would range from a written reprimand to dismissal with cause,” expressed Jackson.

“In the case of a student, again it could range from a letter of reprimand to an expulsion or if they had already been granted their degree, we could revoke the degree.”

While both Li and Daghighi were unavailable for comment, and Jackson could not “speak for them,” it was made clear that the allegations are being taken very seriously.

The university has vowed to be as open as possible during this process and uphold their beliefs in academic integrity and honesty.

Jackson also declined to comment on the specifics of this particular case, because it “would jeopardize the integrity of this process.”

Jackson concluded, “We will communicate, in accordance to our policies, we’ve made a commitment, that we will be as open and as transparent as we can on the matter, [and] we are dealing with it and we will communicate as we can.”

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