Case #813

DATE: February 1, 2016

PARTIES: University of Toronto v J.W.K.
Hearing Date(s): December 15, 2015
Panel Members:
Johanna Braden, Chair
Louis Florence, Faculty Member
Jeffery Couse, Student Member
Appearances:
Lily Harmer, Assistant Discipline Counsel
In Attendance:
Emma Thacker, Associate Director, Graduate Affairs, School of Graduate Studies
Krista Osbourne, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
Trial Division – s. B.i.1(f) of the Code – concoction – Student fabricated data and research results – hearing not attended – Student requested that the Tribunal proceed in his absence – Agreed Statement of Facts – guilty plea – finding on Agreed Statement of Facts – finding on guilty plea – Joint Submission on Penalty accepted – consideration of Mr. C factors relevant to sanction - 5-year suspension; recommendation of expulsion; case reported to Provost for publication
Student charged with two offences under s. B.i.1(f) and, in the alternative, an offence under s. B.i.3(b) of the Code. The charges related to allegations that the Student knowingly and repeatedly concocted data over a two-year period, that he presented this concocted data to his thesis supervisor and others, and that this concocted data was presented in a conference poster and a grant application. The Student was not present at the hearing. The Panel proceeded in the absence of the Student given that the Student had expressly admitted in writing that he had received reasonable notice of the hearing, and that the Student requested that the Tribunal proceed in his absence as he did not want to attend or participate further in the proceedings.
Student was found guilty with respect to both charges of concoction. The Panel accepted the Agreed Statement of Facts in which the Student admitted to the offences. In considering the Joint Submission on Penalty, the Panel considered the factors and principles relevant to sanction set out in the Mr. C case. The Panel emphasized that the serious nature of the offences committed was a significant aggravating factor, stating that deliberate, repeated concoction of data strikes at the very heart of academic integrity. The Panel also took into account the fact that the Student’s misconduct affected the reputation of the University’s innocent researchers who were listed as co-authors on the Student’s research, as well as the damage to the integrity of the University as a whole. The Panel took the Student’s admission of misconduct as a sign that he accepted some responsibility for his misconduct, and the Panel noted that the Student had successfully obtained one degree from the University prior to this misconduct. The Panel also took into account that the Student was challenged by personal issues and that this was the Student’s first academic offence. The Panel accepted the Joint Submission on Penalty. The Panel imposed a 5-year suspension; a recommendation of expulsion; and that the case be reported to the Provost for publication.