In February 2020 the University concluded an investigation under its Code of Practice and Procedure on Academic Integrity in Research which resulted in findings that Dr Alexander Liu was responsible for misconduct in research in respect of two papers identified below. These were retracted by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology on 1 September 2020 following a vote by its Ethics Board. No other co-author was found to be involved in the misconduct.
The Panel’s findings were based on their judgement that Dr Liu showed a pattern of deliberately manipulating data such that in accordance with the Code there was an intention to commit Misconduct in Research. In the Panel's assessment, these instances of misconduct in research did not derive from inadequate supervision or training.
Dr Liu disagreed with the Panel’s findings and raised complaints with the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA). In the course of the OIA’s assessment, procedural errors were identified in the University’s handling of the research integrity investigation, which could have given rise to a perception of bias. The University maintained in its submissions to the OIA that the procedural errors did not affect the outcome of the Panel's investigation; however, it apologised to Dr Liu for the procedural errors. The OIA’s usual approach in such cases is to recommend that the decision be quashed and reinvestigated; this is because matters of academic integrity contain a significant element of academic judgment, in which the OIA cannot interfere. Through settlement discussions, suggested and overseen by the OIA as a means to resolve the complaint, the University offered Dr Liu two options to redress the procedural errors, either (1) to have the matter quashed and re-investigated, or (2) to allow the original Panel’s findings to stand as the final outcome. The settlement terms were equal otherwise as between the two options so as not to prejudice Dr Liu’s choice. Following a period of negotiation and amendment, neither was accepted by Dr Liu. The OIA’s view was that the offers were reasonable.
The OIA consequently issued a Complaint Outcome which set out the procedural errors it had identified, as a result of which it deemed the complaint to be partly justified, but also stated that the OIA’s view was that the University’s second offer was the appropriate remedy in this case. As a result, the complaint was terminated by the OIA on the basis that the University had made reasonable offers which remained open for a further period. Dr Liu rejected these offers.
The Panel’s findings therefore stand as the final outcome.
This statement has been provided to relevant third parties, including the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
PAPERS RETRACTED 1 SEPTEMBER 2020
- “Gadolinium-Free Cardiac MR Stress T1-Mapping to Distinguish Epicardial From Microvascular Coronary Disease”
[J Am Coll Cardiol. 2018;71(9):957-968. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2017.11.071]
[J Am Coll Cardiol. 2018;71(9):969-979. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2017.12.046]