Oxford professor failed to credit work of Chinese colleagues in award-winning book, panel rules

More sanctions would have been imposed if collaborators were not from China, academics claim

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Thursday 24 October 2019 15:11 BST
A panel at the university said the academic’s approach was ‘characterised by carelessness’
A panel at the university said the academic’s approach was ‘characterised by carelessness’ (PA)

An Oxford University professor committed “serious” misconduct when she failed to sufficiently acknowledge the work of Chinese collaborators in her award-winning book, a panel has ruled.

Anna Lora-Wainwright was told to make amendments to include the missing citations in Resigned Activism: Living with Pollution in Rural China, for which she won a BBC prize last year.

Chinese professors criticised the institution for not imposing stricter sanctions.

Her collaborators also called on the university to strip her of the award and make her issue a full public apology, in a letter seen by Times Higher Education (THE).

Branding the sanction as “unacceptable”, they questioned the “underlying cause” for the lack of redress, adding: “Is this because the victims of this misconduct are Chinese scholars?”

Wang Wuyi, one of the complainants, told THE: “We certainly think there is a double standard here and that things would be different if the collaborators were from Europe or the US."

Ms Lora-Wainwright, a professor of the human geography of China at Oxford, was investigated by the university amid complaints that she failed to make clear the co-production of the work in the book.

A panel rejected the professor’s claim that the acknowledgements in a methodology section at the back of the book gave sufficient credit to colleagues.

It said her approach was “characterised by carelessness and a lack of due diligence with regard to the intellectual contribution of others”.

However, the panel concluded that the professor “did not intend to deceive or mislead” others.

A University of Oxford spokesperson said it took allegations of research misconduct very seriously.

They added: “The university is confident that policies on academic integrity have been applied as they would be in any case, and the action taken was robust and appropriate to the circumstances.”

The Independent has approached Professor Lora-Wainwright for comment.

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