UPM duo in plagiarism scandal By: Llew-Ann Phang (Mon, 14 Sep 2009)
PETALING JAYA (Sept 13, 2009) : Two Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) lecturers are facing career-damaging action for plagiarism. Prof Datuk Dr Radin Umar Radin Sohadi Six years ago, the two academicians – a professor and one who recently received her PhD – produced a reference book titled “Writing an Effective Resume” meant for management students on writing impactful resumes that would attract potential employers. However, about a year ago, suspicions arose within academia that the book may have plagiarised materials of several American university websites, including Harvard and Albion College. Investigations conducted by the university discovered that a “substantial” amount of the 64-page book was lifted almost word-for-word, albeit given a local touch. It, among others, defines a resume and its purpose, making the resume appealing, networking, organising the employment portfolio and preparing curriculum vitae. Higher Education Ministry director-general Prof Datuk Dr Radin Umar Radin Sohadi acknowledged receiving the complaint and that investigations are ongoing. “We certainly cannot accept plagiarism, especially in the higher education environment,” he said, adding that punitive action would be taken under the Universities and University Colleges Act and Statutory Bodies (Discipline and Surcharge) Act (Act 605). “It is under the purview of the university. I spoke to the legal director and UPM is taking very serious action on the staff according to the Act,” Radin Umar said in an email to theSun. Investigations headed by UPM’s Legal Department concluded that among the actions to be taken are that they repay royalties to the university, as well as a “severe reprimand on their personal file”. UPM vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Nik Mustapha R. Abdullah told theSun in a recent interview that this would mean a slow climb up the rungs for the two authors. “It’s very difficult to prove plagiarism also because sometimes it’s about expression but it’s very unfortunate as they will have to suffer,” he said, adding that one of the authors expressed sincere regret over the matter. “It’s the price you have to pay. It was unintentional and it’s our first case of plagiarism and the printers suffer the biggest loss because the books cannot be sold,” he said. Nik Mustapha said the episode serves as a lesson to all university staff – deans, directors and senior officers – who have all been issued a warning on the severity of such acts. He said the university has a Publications Committee which screens material to be published albeit it is focused on journals and articles, as part of the university’s efforts to scale up the annual QS World University Rankings by Times Higher Education. “UPM will have a sub-committee that will be dedicated to screen materials for books following this. Before the book is sent for publication, the draft of the material will need to get an endorsement from the Publications Committee,” said Nik Mustapha. The authors and publishers of the original material have not been notified.