Pro v-c cited his unwritten book in study

Major report on selective education used ‘inappropriate’ references

October 31, 2013

Source: Elin Larrson

Paper trail: Tony Gallagher’s approach to citation led to criticism

Is it acceptable to cite in your research a book you intend to publish – even if it never sees the light of day?

That is the question that confronted Queen’s University Belfast earlier this year when an internal inquiry found that a book cited by one of its most senior figures in a major report did not exist.

The report, The Effects of the Selective System of Secondary Education in Northern Ireland, was written in 2000 for the province’s Department of Education by Tony Gallagher, pro vice-chancellor and professor of education at Queen’s, and Alan Smith, Unesco chair in pluralism, human rights and democracy at the University of Ulster.

Professor Gallagher had been tipped to become Queen’s new vice-chancellor before Patrick Johnston, dean of its School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, was appointed earlier this month.

The report contains four references to a discussion paper authored by Professor Gallagher, “Grouping Pupils by Ability”, supposedly contained in a book he co-edited with Professor Smith, published in 2000 and titled Educational and Legal Aspects of Selection in Schools. However, Robert McCartney, a retired QC and former MP, argued that neither the book nor the paper existed.

Mr McCartney, a staunch supporter of selective education, told Times Higher Education that the report supplied a major part of the evidence used to justify the abolition of the 11-plus examination system in Northern Ireland in 2008.

He said he first questioned the book’s existence in a newspaper article in 2006 but Queen’s only opened an inquiry earlier this year after he complained to the Russell Group, of which the university is a member.

Sir Peter Gregson, Queen’s vice-chancellor until last July, wrote a letter to Mr McCartney setting out the inquiry’s conclusions. He said that the academics’ research for the report had enabled three additional reports to be generated, which they had intended to turn into the cited book. Two had been published in other forms, and the third – the cited discussion paper – “has always been available from the authors upon request”.

Sir Peter recognised that the references to the book were “inappropriate” in the absence of “the qualifier ‘in preparation’” and said he had “formally addressed this matter with Professor Gallagher”.

Mr McCartney wrote to Queen’s: “When a book has been completed and accepted for publication it is permissible after the book’s citation to add the qualification ‘at press’. This is completely different from suggesting that a book is in ‘preparation’, an addendum for which there is no known or accepted precedent in academic circles.”

paul.jump@tsleducation.com

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Felipe Fernández-Armesto takes issue with a claim that the EU has been playing the sovereignty card in Brexit negotiations

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

John McEnroe arguing with umpire. Tennis

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman explain how to negotiate your annual performance and development review

Man throwing axes

UCU attacks plans to cut 171 posts, but university denies Brexit 'the reason'

Cricket player and umpire exchanging bribe

The need to accommodate foreign students undermines domestic practices, says Lincoln Allison, spying parallels between UK universities and global sports bodies such as Fifa