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[ RESEARCH INTEGRITY ] August 11, 2023

Why integrity matters to me

The research community has been battling against rogue practices since the beginning of scientific communication. But, as scandals, retractions, and fraud issues grow, we are trapped in a crisis that might just be our generation's biggest. It's only when we closely investigate the information we consume that we realize this public fight has private consequences in all of our lives.

Welcome to our new series on personal integrity stories

We’re launching a new series, exploring the ways in which misinformation, fraud, and research misconduct can affect the general public. As we share stories of Morressier team members’ personal reflections on what integrity means to them, we will also recognize the need to increase our vigilance in tackling these challenges head-on.

We had a chat with Emefa Dzivenu from our Marketing Team to get an inside scoop on her personal brush with plagiarism.


An academic plot twist

Going to college, I was thrilled for a chance to learn more about the world of storytelling and the enchantment of literature. I even went all the way to the mystic medieval town of St Andrews, Scotland for their Comparative Literature program after living in the U.S. all my life!

For four years, we read texts originally written in foreign languages, and listened to lectures that offered windows into the cultural contexts of these worlds. In my final year, in a class on Global Autobiographies, one professor offered brilliant perspectives on Chinese studies, after she made a guest appearance at a Chinese film screening. Her feminist insights were like a breath of fresh air, and naturally, I wove her wisdom into one of the final essays of my university journey, which I was quite proud of.

Just imagine my surprise, when earlier this summer, it was found that this same university lecturer committed plagiarism in seven papers published between 2014 and 2022, according to the results of an institutional investigation. 
Retraction Watch found that the professor had two retractions in their database, with one occurring in 2019, and the other in 2022. 

The University of St. Andrews launched an investigation after academic publishers and some other concerned parties raised their eyebrows about this lecturer's work in May and June of last year. They dropped an online statement that read, “All relevant publishers and previous employers are being informed, in keeping with our unwavering commitment to research integrity.” 

This news shocked me, and I wasn’t the only one.  You won't believe how quickly it started buzzing in our WhatsApp and Facebook chats, becoming the talk of the town in our alumni community. For me, it meant reevaluating everything I'd once believed just a couple of years ago,  and highlighting the dangerous ripple effects of misinformation. Looking back on myself as a naive student, it almost struck me that those participating in unethical research don't exactly walk around with a neon sign screaming "I'm up to no good." These individuals can easily slip through the cracks, and they're not your stereotypical villains with twirling mustaches. Often, they're just overworked or ambitious academics, cutting corners due to the weight of the pressure to publish.



No longer a student, I realized that now I need to be more critical of the information I consume. It's all about actively tracking down sources, giving them a thorough once-over, and making sure identities check out. My university's swift and transparent response also taught me that these big institutions are on their toes, trying to catch scandals as best as they can. Perhaps they just need a boost from the right tools.

Moving forward, I recognize that learning is built on trust, but sprinkling in a pinch of skepticism can sometimes be a wise move.

guide to research integrity