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  • Thai PhD withdrawal leads to calls to retract article

[MANILA] A decision by a Thai university to rescind, on the grounds of plagiarism, a PhD previously granted to a senior government official has stirred up calls for a local academic journal to retract the official's allegedly plagiarised article, published in 2008.

Last week, Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, decided to revoke the doctorate it had granted in 2008 to Supachai Lorlowhakarn, director of the National Innovation Agency (NIA), an organisation operating under the umbrella of the Thai government's Ministry of Science and Health.

The decision followed an official university investigation, which, in 2010, revealed that Supachai had copied directly from other sources, including a technical assistance report published by the UN.

In addition to the PhD-related plagiarism charges levelled at Supachai, he also allegedly plagiarised an article on organic agriculture, based on his thesis and published in the Thai Journal of Agricultural Science (TJAS) in 2008.

Wageningen Academic Publishers, which holds the copyright to the original article that was allegedly
plagiarised by Supachai, has renewed its demand to TJAS to retract Supachai's article.

"I hope and believe that TJAS will reconsider the case and retract the article," Lieke Boersma, an editor at
Wageningen Academic Publishers, told SciDev.Net.

Boersma said that Chulalongkorn's decision regarding Supachai should prompt TJAS editor Irb Kheoruenromne to withdraw the article. This, she said, would be "the right decision".

"I will wait for TJAS to take the necessary steps, but if they still fail to take action, I will contact them again," she said.

British agricultural consultant Wyn Ellis, the principal author of one of the works claimed to have been
plagiarised by Supachai, added that "pressure needs to be put on TJAS, which still hasn't revoked the paper".

In an interview, TJAS editor, Irb Kheoruenromne, said that "chances are high" that the journal will withdraw Supachai's article.

However, Supachai is currently threatening to file a case against Chulalongkorn University's decision, and so Irb is waiting for the outcome of this possible action before making a decision on retraction.

Supachai did not respond to requests for comment from SciDev.Net. But an email Supachai sent to Irb last May, revealed that Supachai insisted that he had not plagiarised anything but had, as NIA director, "duly requested, and received an approval, to use some parts of the study" in his thesis.

Link to the allegedly plagiarised article in TJAS [259kB]