Warwick investigates lecturer who 'unwittingly' drew on another's work

April 7, 2006

Warwick University is investigating an academic accused of plagiarism after one of his published papers was found by a journal to have "replicated or rephrased large parts" of work by another academic.

David Baker, a lecturer in the department of politics and international studies for the past six years, is facing disciplinary proceedings this month.

The university initiated disciplinary procedures last year when The Political Quarterly was forced to retract an article by Dr Baker after he admitted that he "unwittingly drew on material" from another academic's paper.

A university spokesperson said: "There is an ongoing investigation into an allegation of plagiarism against a member of staff in the social studies faculty. That investigation has not yet concluded. The member of staff in question has not been suspended."

Dr Baker, an expert on the European Union and the contemporary Far Right in Europe, has taken several sustained periods of sick leave over the past few years and has been absent from the university since November 2005.

Dr Baker published a paper in the January 2005 edition of The Political Quarterly titled "Islands of the Mind: New Labour's Defensive Engagement with the European Union".

Suspicions were aroused by strikingly similar arguments in another paper, "New Labour and the EU: Continuity, Change, Policy Shifts and Counter-Shifts", presented to the Political Studies Association conference in April 2005 by Stefano Fella, an Italian academic.

Dr Baker subsequently published a statement on his website, stating that in his paper he "unwittingly drew on material from an unpublished 2002 paper by Dr Fella... that (was then) delivered in a modified form as a conference paper."

He added: "I have apologised unreservedly to Dr Fella and the journal editors for this regrettable occurrence, which was entirely my responsibility."

A retraction and apology appeared in the May 2005 issue of The Political Quarterly .

Internal university disciplinary procedures were initiated soon afterwards.

Dr Baker subsequently removed the link to the offending paper and statement from his website.

Dr Baker could not be reached for comment. Andrew Gamble and Tony Wright MP, the editors of Political Quarterly , both refused to comment.

The case is one of only a few recorded instances of alleged plagiarism by UK academics.

In April 2005, Leeds University disciplined Neil Winn, a senior lecturer in European studies, for plagiarising part of a paper he wrote in 1996. The university issued a statement saying that Dr Winn had "not denied" plagiarising from a journal article for his 1996 monograph European Crisis Management in the 1980s .

A Harvard University undergraduate discovered that part of Dr Winn's monograph was nearly identical to sections from a 1992 journal paper by Steve Livingston, associate professor of political science at Middle Tennessee State University in the US.

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