April 8, 2012
To: Panel on Responsible Conduct of Research
From: Michael Pyshnov
Allegations of Extreme Breaches of Policy by the University of Toronto
I understand that since January of 2012, The Tri-Agency Framework allows to investigate allegations of breaches of policy committed by the academic institutions in Canada. The Panel on Responsible Conduct of Research is mandated to consider allegations of breaches of Tri-Agency policies, it can review institutional investigation reports, can recommend recourse and can use other measures to rectify the breaches.
I therefore submit to you my allegations that University of Toronto has committed extreme breaches of policy in its investigation of my complaint of plagiarism and fraud committed by Prof. E. Larsen, the supervisor of my PhD research in the Department of Zoology. I allege that the said investigation was conducted illegitimately, contrary to the Guidelines on such investigations and contrary to the university and the NSERC policy.
I was a PhD candidate in the Department of Zoology of the University of Toronto from 1981 to 1986. I was receiving the NSERC post-graduate scholarship. The merits of my previous research and publications were such that the Department considered me the first candidate for NSERC scholarship among the seven candidates in this year. I also was awarded the highest University of Toronto scholarship. My PhD thesis research was, for five years, consistently receiving high praise for its importance and originality.
In 1986, E. Larsen terminated my PhD program (she gave different reasons in the documents). This "academic decision" prevented me from writing my thesis. After I left, she, without my knowledge, published three papers which contained my ideas and two discoveries made by me in my research for the thesis, but attributed the research, ideas and discoveries to herself and her co-author. I found these papers only in 1993 and it became obvious to me that she had committed plagiarism and fraud.
I made a complaint to the NSERC. University of Toronto, on the request of NSERC, conducted the investigation of my complaint. The conclusion of the investigation report was that E. Larsen "salvaged" my research, but did not commit plagiarism and misconduct. The investigation was conducted in massive violation of the policy and the report of the investigation was completely false. This investigation is the subject of my present submission to the Panel on Responsible Conduct of Research.
I subsequently complained of the illegitimacy of the investigation to the University of Toronto and NSERC, but that was never investigated. The university established itself as the only authority that can investigate my complaints. The university also sent a letter to every professor of the Department, discouraging them from giving me their professional opinion on the papers in question.
The consequences of the false investigation are devastating. I remain without a job, in a state of complete frustration and under the mental torture. My name as a scientist and my good reputation officially no longer exist. The report of the investigation, denying plagiarism, made my right to be named as the author of my research nonexistent. I cannot talk about my research in any scientific journal. Recently, the editor of one journal was prevented by the University of Toronto from retracting one of the Larsen's papers.
One of the results of the false investigation was that the funds supplied by the NSERC with the purpose of supporting my PhD program (over $30000 for my scholarship and unknown to me amount of funds consumed by my supervisor) were, at least partly, misused or wasted. The university investigator. Vice-Dean D. Dewees, told me that the NSERC research grant was taken away from E. Larsen after my departure as she herself had accomplished nothing.
The fraud of the University of Toronto is continuing because the plagiarised papers with falsified authorship remain in the journals, in libraries and in the electronic media. I have no means to establish my authorship of my PhD research. This will continue until a governmental agency agrees to look at the illegitimate procedure under which the report of the University of Toronto investigation was made and declares the report invalid.
I am asking the Panel on Responsible Conduct of Research to consider the severity of the breaches of policy in the University of Toronto investigation and the unbearable consequences that I suffer, and take immediate steps to declare the report invalid.
1) The investigation of my complaint of plagiarism was conducted by one person, Vice-Dean D. Dewees, not by the investigating committee, as required by the policy, and that was the extreme breach of an essential requirement of the policy.
2) The investigator, D. Dewees, was not professionally qualified to conduct this investigation, was not a scientist and was unable to understand the scientific papers that were the subject of my complaint of plagiarism. This was the extreme breach of an essential policy requirement that such investigation must be conducted by a committee having appropriate scholarly background.
3) D. Dewees issued, on April 25, 1995, the report entitled "Investigation Regarding Mr. Pyshnov's Complaint" that was inconsistent with proper analysis of the papers in question and had improperly dismissed my complaints.
4) D. Dewees knew the policy (Guidelines); he quoted it in his report. The Guidelines (page 10) said: "The chair and members of the investigating committee ... jointly should have appropriate scholarly and administrative background to evaluate the accusation and the response to it."
5) D. Dewees noted in the report that he consulted with Prof. Derek Van der Kooy "who provided very helpful advice on scientific matters" (page 1, para. 2 of the report). However, this person was not an investigator in the case, he was not available to me and he did not sign the report. I learned of his alleged involvement only when I received the report. The University of Toronto had committed an extreme breach of policy that required presence of experts on the committee.
6) D. Dewees improperly treated the case as a small matter which it was not. The report contained barely 4 pages. D. Dewees omitted to investigate the central facts of the case. That is despite the fact that the documents containing my complaints were available to him, which he admits. He, also, did not list the documents properly, and it is impossible to know from the report what some of them were.
7) D. Dewees had falsified the definitions of misconduct and doing this, committed most serious breaches of the university and NSERC policy on the definitions of plagiarism and misconduct. These brutal violations helped D. Dewees to improperly dismiss my legitimate complaints.
8) I allege that D. Dewees committed extreme breach of policy in the following instance. He said, (page 3, para. 1): "I belive that it would have been good practice to include in the 1989 article a statement that some of these results are replications or extensions of results first found by Mr. Pyshnov in Professor Larsen's laboratory ..." (The 1989 article, as I complained, plagiarised the results of my unpublished PhD research.) Here, D. Dewees admits the fact that actually constitutes plagiarism and misconduct: any replications or manipulations with my original experiments had to be acknowledged. However, he then, completely illegitimately and in the extreme breach of policy, dismissed my complaint, saying: "However I do not believe that the omission of this statement ... constitutes misconduct."
9) In the subsequent argument for denying Larsen's plagiarism, D. Dewees concluded that E. Larsen had no intent to plagiarise my research in 1989 paper because she did not plagiarise my research in her previous paper in 1986. However, the 1986 paper was submitted in 1985, when I was in the laboratory. The circumstances at the moment were different, and her intent at the moment could have been different and, in fact, was different. This argument and the conclusion were made in violation of the accepted definitions and norms of the procedure, illegitimately.
10) I allege that D. Dewees omitted to investigate one of the central facts relied upon in my complaints and, so, committed extreme breaches of policy. In the case described in paragraph 8 above, he omitted to determine which results concretely he is talking about. He defined them only as "some of these results". In fact, the results "first found by Mr. Pyshnov" were two main experimental discoveries made by me in my research for the thesis. These results were published by E. Larsen in 1989 paper as her own, moreover, they were the ONLY results reported in the abstract of this paper.
11) D. Dewees omitted to investigate my other complaints. On page 2, para. 3, D. Dewees says: "The 1989 article does not report Mr. Pyshnov's original experimental results, photographs or data except for one paragraph on page 54 which may refer to his results as well as those of the authors [of 1989 paper]." He omitted to investigate my complaint that the paragraph on page 54 of the 1989 Larsen's paper presented my original experimental results as the work of E. Larsen and her co-author, and he then refused to say who exactly was the author of these results. D. Dewees committed an extreme breach of the procedure of the investigation.
12) I allege that the breaches of the policy listed here, materially and drastically affected the scope of the investigation and led to the illegitimate conclusions. The report is an illegitimate document.
13) The Vice-Provost of the university, P. Gooch, appointed D. Dewees to conduct this investigation improperly and in most serious violation of the Guidelines.
14) After receiving the report of D. Dewees, I submitted to P. Gooch my objections to the report, and in particular, to the procedure of the investigation.
15) In his answer to me, P. Gooch reacted improperly to my objections that the investigation was not conducted by a committee and that D. Dewees was not qualified to conduct this investigation. P. Gooch gave me impermissible excuses for these extreme breaches of policy.
16) P. Gooch, first, de facto admitted both breaches of policy. But, his excuses for the breaches of policy did not make them tolerable. I, as a matter of fact, was deprived of my rights during the investigation. I was put in the most awkward situation, being unable to bring up the necessary details of my allegations. And, there was no competent committee that would have helped me.
17) P. Gooch, also, refused "to continue the discussion on matters of substance". And, he said: "the best way to resolve the matter is through the legal action you have initiated." He was wrong, he had to fulfil his duties regardless of any court proceedings. This all shows that the two administrators conceived and conducted the investigation as an ambush, violating my rights, and then hurried to deliver the report to the NSERC. Everything here indicates fraud. That I was not given the Guidelines before the investigation started and that I could learn that the Guidelines exist only after receiving the report, was contrary to the Guidelines; this could have been a part of the fraud. Here, I believe, the notification of proper authorities is needed.
18) Despite my objections, the university had submitted to the NSERC the report that either hid the fact of the extreme breaches of policy in this investigation, or, possibly, supplied impermissible excuses for these extreme breaches.
19) D. Dewees knew that he breached the policy required by the NSERC many times. He quoted the Guidelines in his report only to fraudulently make the report acceptable to the NSERC. As a matter of fact, the policy quoted by him was not followed in the actual investigation and that was well known to the Vice-Provost too.
20) I have also found that beside the already listed extreme breaches of policy, the report of D. Dewees contains a) massive misinterpretations of law and policy and b) massive falsifications of fact that can be absolutely proved by the existing documents.
I submit to the Panel on Responsible Conduct of Research that each of the extreme breaches of policy, listed above, committed by the University of Toronto, is sufficient for declaring the report of the investigation invalid on the face of it.
I am seeking the recourse in the form of a declaration by a proper authority that the report of D. Dewees entitled "Investigation Regarding Mr. Pyshnov's Complaint" is invalid.
The evidence for the above allegations is contained in the following documents (see the attachments):
1. The report "Investigation Regarding Mr. Pyshnov's Complaint" signed by Donald N. Dewees, Vice-Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science, April 25, 1995, 4 pages.
2. Letter from Mr. M. Pyshnov to Prof. P.W. Gooch, Vice-Provost, University of Toronto, May 3, 1995, 3 pages.
3. Letter from Paul W. Gooch, Vice-Provost, to Michael Pyshnov, May 11, 1995, 1 page.
4. Page 10 of the Guidelines (March 1995) describing Structure of Investigation.