Dean rehashed views on HIV

September 12, 1997

A PROFESSOR at City University has apologised in a journal for the way in which he used material from 14 academic papers in one review article.

The apology, by Steven Haberman, professor of actuarial science and dean of the school of mathematics, actuarial science and statistics at City, was published in the British Actuarial Journal and repeated in the latest Royal Statistical Society News.

It states that a paper by Professor Haberman, Actuarial review of models for describing and predicting the spread of HIV infection and AIDS, published in 1990 in the Journal of the Institute of Actuaries (now the BAJ), contained "significant amounts of material that had already appeared in papers by other authors in other journals".

Professor Haberman and the BAJ editor apologised unreservedly "for this lapse of academic good practice" to the authors of the articles "from which material may have been taken in a way inappropriate for a review article".

In its introduction to the apology, the RSSNews states that the society "drew heavily and verbatim, without attribution, from papers by other authors previously published in the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society and elsewhere".

But in a statement authorised by Professor Haberman, City University said that it did not believe the article involved plagiarism.

"Professor Haberman's article was a review, commissioned by the Institute of Actuaries. Contrary to the assertion in the first paragraph of the RSS News, the papers cited were attributed in the original article," the statement read.

City said the apology was an explanation "to address concern that material may have appeared to have been taken in a way inappropriate to a review article".

However, David Wilkie, chairman of the institute and Faculty of Actuaries joint journal committee, who investigated the matter in 1995, said there was inadequate attribution of some authors in Professor Haberman's paper. In one instance, he said Professor Haberman failed to properly attribute conclusions to their author.

"This review article was quite good, but it was not his own work," Professor Wilkie said. "It was largely done by taking paragraphs from other people's work. Paragraph after paragraph was borrowed. In a review article it is not unreasonable to quote a little bit, but it is unreasonable to quote large amounts without attribution."

Professor Wilkie's report was handed to Howard Webb, chairman of the institute's professional affairs board. "This apology appeared, but no further action has been taken against Professor Haberman," Professor Wilkie said.

Mr Webb said publication of the apology was sufficient. "We regard the matter as closed."

Professor Haberman is on the institute's council, several committees and the Journal of Actuarial Practice editorial board. He is also a Royal Statistical Society fellow.

Professor Haberman declined to comment directly to The THES.

The Institute of Actuaries is tightening its code of conduct to make plagiarism an offence.

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