The Malta Independent 23 May 2024, Thursday
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Disciplinary committee finds no plagiarism in Andrew Azzopardi’s academic paper

Monday, 19 September 2022, 14:22 Last update: about 3 years ago

A University of Malta disciplinary committee has found that there was no plagiarism in the academic paper which was co-authored by the Dean of the Faculty for Social Wellbeing, Andrew Azzopardi.

Times of Malta revealed that the investigation report said that there were segments within the paper that were badly referenced from other texts, however, there was nothing indicating that Azzopardi was trying to take the work as his own.

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The other author listed was Andrew Camilleri who was listed as the first author. The committee said that it was clear that this was Camilleri’s first attempt to write a literary review. However, the committee said that although he might have been careless in writing it, he was not trying to steal someone else’s work.

The paper titled “Risk and Protective factors in Violent Youth Crime” was published last October, in the first edition of the journal “Studies in Social Well-being”. This was later retracted.

Last November one of the academics quoted in the paper, Saviour Formosa, accused Azzopardi and Camilleri of plagiarising his work and his colleague’s work. Following this, Formosa also called for Azzopardi’s resignation.

After these accusations emerged, university rector, Alfred Vella, assigned the committee to investigate Azzopardi and Camilleri’s paper to see if there is any plagiarism and to decide whether this instance does tarnish the university’s reputation.

Azzopardi had acknowledged that the work failed to meet academic standards, but he rejected any allegations that this was an instance of wilful misdoing.

He also hoped that his colleague’s criticism was not an attempt to silence his activism, because they had clashed on the prison issue in the past, with Azzopardi constantly calling for reforms and the resignation of former prison director Alex Dalli.

In their investigation, the committee revealed that the paper failed to follow certain academic writing conventions. It reported that there were several instances where Formosa and other academics’ work was not placed between quotation marks.

Although this was the case the report revealed that it did not find any signs of plagiarism because for the most part there was the correct citation, except for a few minor errors, giving credit to the work being referenced.

“In our view, this is clearly a case of lazy writing, rather than ‘wilful plagiarism’,” the committee said.

The committee said that although Azzopardi as the second author should have full confidence in the first author’s work, he still should have mentored Camilleri better to ensure that these mistakes would not make it to publication.

Furthermore, the committee also said that it is very difficult to measure whether this had a negative impact on the university’s reputation,

The committee recommended an apology and chose not to issue any reprimands or sanctions.

Azzopardi replied to this outcome on Monday morning on Facebook by saying that he is pleased that “common sense prevailed.”

Azzopardi expressed his disappointment that this allegation went public immediately before discussions with the ethics committee even began.

He concluded by saying that he will continue to give a voice to the forgotten, follow what is happening in prison, support victims of crime, speak against the pigs who ignore immigration, fight against the lack of children’s voice and continue to speak against corruption.

“Nothing is going to cancel me. Nothing is going to stop me,” he said.

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