Statement on investigation into work of PhD student
Outcome of initial phase of investigation
We have completed the initial phase of investigation into the recent publication of the work of a student, who had registered for a PhD, which has raised widespread and significant concerns and complaints, all of which we take extremely seriously.
We are examining all aspects of the student’s work and academic supervision, the origin of the article, his prior background, the associated University processes for admission to our PGR programme and research conduct, and other questions that have been raised.
This investigation is not yet complete, however, we wanted to provide initial findings where we are able, and actions we have taken, particularly as there are significant broader concerns about the student beyond research misconduct.
The basis for the article published in Qualitative Research was a paper for the course “Topics in Interdisciplinary Queer Studies: Autoethnography” at the University of Stavanger, Norway.
The research involving participants described in the paper was conducted for his MA at a University in Berlin. There is contradictory information regarding when the period of self-immersive research activity took place.
The described research methodology and data collection were not submitted for University of Manchester research ethics approval. The production of the paper was not part of his supervised PhD programme of study.
However, there are wider questions for the University which we continue to investigate.
Supporting a police investigation
Greater Manchester Police has opened an investigation. We are assisting them with their enquiries to establish what, if any offences, have been committed in the UK or elsewhere.
PhD continuation and next steps
The student was registered for a PhD but the research design which he developed, and the methods he proposed for conducting the research for his PhD was submitted to, and rejected by, our University Research Ethics Committee (UREC) on 17 June 2022.
As a precautionary measure, the student has been suspended pending the outcome of a full investigation under the Student Conduct Discipline regulation.
Important further University actions
There are a number of serious issues raised by this case, that we are still investigating. We have robust procedures for approving new research via our University Research Ethics Committee, in accordance with the standards applied by all research funders aross the sector. The student’s proposed research methods and data collection for his programme of study were rejected.
We were not aware of the background relating to this student which has now come to light, and this case has highlighted that we must ensure that our PhD student recruitment processes are sufficiently robust to appropriately scrutinise the legal, ethical and safeguarding issues of the proposed research and applicants’ prior related activities where relevant.