A career under scrutiny

June 2, 2000

Colleagues of a senior lecturer at Paisley University have uncovered a remarkable series of anomalies in his CV.

But Paul Coleshill, director of Paisley's Scottish Centre for European Public Sector Studies and a Liberal Democrat councillor, says the anomalies were due to innocent errors.

In 1997, Mr Coleshill applied to be head of Paisley's department of accounting, economics and languages. He stated that he had published two academic papers in refereed journals, one of them in the prestigious Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE). When it emerged that this journal had never published the article, Mr Coleshill explained that the letter "T" had appeared by mistake and he was actually referring to the Journal of Institutional Economics, or "JIE". An earlier version of the CV had referred to "JIE".

But it seems even the more modest claim of an article in the JIE was incorrect. The university was provided with what appeared to be a photocopy of the article published in the JIE, dated 1996, complete with page headers, pagination and footnotes.

This article was virtually identical to Mr Coleshill's departmental working paper. It contained the same errors, including incorrect references to Nobel prizewinning economist Robert Solow as "Sowlow". Extensive searches on several international databases have failed to locate the article in the JIE.

Mr Coleshill subsequently explained that he had been told his article would appear in an edition of the journal, but it did not in fact appear.

Another anomaly was found with the second of the two published articles Mr Coleshill claimed to have written. A 1996 CV includes reference to an article published in the Journal of Intercultural Studies, University of Bayreth" (sic). In the 1997 CV, this became the Journal of Intercultural Germanistics, University of Beyruth. Searches have failed to identify this article.

Mr Coleshill, a councillor in Kicreggan who stood as a Liberal Democrat candidate for the Scottish Parliament and expects to contest a seat at Westminster, was listed in election literature as "Dr" Coleshill.

He admitted to The THES that there were "anomalies and various things" in the paperwork. He said that the claim of a paper in the JITE was an innocent mistake, and that his claim in 1997 to have published a 1996 paper in the JIE was made on the basis that he had been promised that a paper was due to be published in the future.

"But I'm not going to talk about that," he said. "I've got to draw a line somewhere. I'm not going to defend myself absolutely everywhere all the way down the line."

He said that the reference to him as a "Dr" was a mistake on the part of the Liberal Democrats, which he had actively sought to rectify.

He said that similar anomalies would be found in most academics' CVs "if you go through absolutely everything and you are persistent".

He said that all the allegations had been investigated by the university and he had been cleared. When pressed, he accepted that the university's investigations had found "anomalies", while one other allegation was dispelled.

"I've gone through investigations on this thing and this is ridiculous," he said. "The university seems to have been concerned about what I consider to be ridiculous allegations."

A university spokesman said: "In respect to the allegations relating to publications, the university has carried out an inquiry and taken appropriate action. University policy is not to comment on matters relating to individual members of staff. The university has no knowledge of the matter relating to the MSP candidate's listing."

Want to blow the whistle?

Contact Phil Baty on 020 7782 3298 or email him onphil.baty@thes.co.uk

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