Dean dismissed for plagiarism

Durham sacks academic after disciplinary tribunal upholds misconduct allegations. Tariq Tahir reports

March 6, 2008

The dean of a leading business school has been found guilty of plagiarism and sacked by his university.

Last year Times Higher Education revealed that Tony Antoniou had taken substantial parts of both a journal paper and his University of York DPhil thesis verbatim from a number of sources.

Mr Antoniou stood down as dean of Durham Business School for what were described as personal reasons when the allegations first surfaced in September.

He was suspended by the university while it investigated the plagiarism allegations and then stripped of his DPhil by the University of York, which had awarded it in 1986.

Durham set up a disciplinary tribunal and it has now upheld two charges of misconduct against Mr Antoniou, relating to plagiarism in his DPhil thesis and in the journal paper.

In a statement, the university said that the tribunal concluded that the misconduct concerned amounted to "good cause" for dismissal under the university's statute 39 and recommended that he be sacked. "The vice-chancellor has acted in accordance with this recommendation, and Mr Antoniou is no longer employed by the university."

Chris Higgins, the vice-chancellor, added: "Durham University takes the issue of plagiarism extremely seriously. We are committed to ensuring that allegations are fully investigated through the robust procedures that we have in place, and we are also committed to taking the appropriate action following the outcome of an investigation, which is what has happened in this case."

Durham sources have contacted Times Higher Education in the past to raise concerns that PhD students supervised by Mr Antoniou could be tainted by association with him.

In a statement, the university says: "Every PhD student in Durham Business School benefits from the guidance and expertise of two supervisors, who would both have an equal and regular input into the development of a PhD. Those supervised by Tony Antoniou have been reallocated to another joint supervisor with the same area of expertise."

It adds: "We would stress that the charges of plagiarism against Mr Antoniou did not relate to his work at Durham University, and we are satisfied with the integrity of his former students' research. These students are continuing to build a solid academic career with the necessary support they need to do so."

Andy Stainthorpe, director of the UK Research Integrity Office, said there has been a greater acknowledgement in recent years that plagiarism in research takes place.

"There are those organisations that are open about such matters and keen to ensure that the issues are discussed openly and handled properly. Others are moving in that direction but more slowly.

"Some are very proactive and keen to introduce practices to ensure that research is conducted to the rules. I don't think there's a huge reluctance to discuss plagiarism. We are moving towards an era where there is greater openness."

Dr Stainthorpe said that many universities were putting much clearer policies and guidance in place to explain to students and researchers what they regard as plagiarism, as well as adapting the way the university will deal with allegations.

"It's about bringing this out into the open and saying 'please don't do it' but if a situation does arise we will deal with it firmly. There was a time when a student or researcher handbook was handed over and probably never read and that is changing."

The introduction to Mr Antoniou's thesis begins identically to that of a paper by US academic Gary Koppenhaver. Both papers start with the same quote, attributed to an anonymous futures market analyst, and both are identical until the sixth line of the first paragraph. Large sections of two chapters in the DPhil are also taken from Mr Koppenhaver's paper.

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