Dark Secrets of Academicians in Malaysia

Assalamualaikum and hi to all of you.

My name is Baa (not real name), a senior lecturer at a technological university in the largest state of Peninsular Malaysia. Today, I would like to share some of the dark sides of working at a university from my observation.

1. Guest authorship

As discussed in recent local news, lecturers are required to publish or perish. Therefore, several academicians decided to collide and provide guest authorship to each other. Guest authorship is considered as unethical in publication ethics. Furthermore, if uncontrolled, guest authorships can result in a high number of authors for a single paper unnecessarily.

For example, while academicians in the Western countries usually publish with two to three authors, the publications that are published by academicians in Malaysia in the same field have eight to ten authors.

Although some might see it as a small issue, this situation illustrates that the Malaysian academicians are either incompetent – resulting to having numerous individuals to do simple research projects, or Malaysian academicians are conducting unethical behaviors that can tarnish the country’s good name.

Therefore, the ministry should curb this issue before Malaysia become internationally known as unethical researchers. Also, it would be unfair to students if their supervisor added unknown individual names into the paper that they wrote.

To ensure Malaysian academicians are writing ethically based on international standards, maybe the ministry or upper management of universities can identify approaches to avoid the following situations:

• A senior academic is a gatekeeper to facilities funded with taxpayer money.

• A senior academic can add additional authors to a paper even if the first author never spoke to these additional authors or has no idea about their contributions.

• A senior academic can improve career prospects, or potentially bring prestige to facilitate the publication of the paper.

• A senior academic expects to be given authorship on all papers produced by their group regardless of whether they contributed to the research or not.

• Large research groups including all members in all papers even when there has been a negligible contribution from some of them.

2. Falsifying CV

Lecturers are also required to provide consultation services to the industry. Therefore, to achieve that target, some academicians falsify their expertise and credentials.

For example, NIBR falsifies in his CVs that he has a doctorate (while not having one) and having expertise in construction technologies when sending them for project biddings, although his expertise is in another field of engineering, for example, wind engineering.

Also, falsifying CVs is part of the main types of tender fraud – falsification. Other examples of tender frauds include misrepresentation, collision & manipulation, price-fixing, and price inflation.

This type of misconduct should be addressed in a university setting. Otherwise, students might learn unwanted behaviors from this type of lecturers.

3. Bribery & cronyism

Several academicians also control other individuals based on their seniority or position.

For example, K is requested to provide guest authorships to MIBR. Since K refused, recently, MIBR decided not to bring K into the faculty of engineering, leaving K in the faculty of engineering technology.

While not selecting K because of performance might be fair, MIBR chose to select other individuals because they can provide direct benefits to him rather than to the faculty nor university (i.e., cronyism – the appointment of friends and associates, without proper regard to their qualifications).

This situation results in K losing postgraduate students and having a less competitive advantage when applying for grants. Therefore, to avoid this unwanted situation, academicians must bribe MIBR to avoid such implications.

Another example, G is requested to provide percentages from G’s consultation projects. Since G refused, MIBR decided not to recommend G for promotion although G satisfies all the requirements to do so. So, other academicians decided to insert MIBR in their consultation projects to ensure MIBR will not block them for promotion.

As bribery can be defined as a transfer of favors in exchange for a specific beneficial treatment. Therefore, in other words, MIBR wants others to bribe MIBR, and the ministry or upper management should address this issue to keep higher education from corrupted minds – we don’t want this kind of individuals to teach students on how to cut corners to achieve personal gain.

Summary

Academicians should be individuals with a high level of ethics. How can a teacher teach a student to be ethical if the teacher is unethical? We don’t want our future generation to be unethical for their gain. In addition to the management evaluating those working under them, the ministry and upper management should identify ways to also obtain feedback and comments from that underneath towards those above them.

In other words, there should be a check and balance on those with a higher influence on the university’s decision-making process. Also, action should be taken on these types of individuals because their behaviors can hurt Malaysia’s research reputation, halt individuals’ potential, and chase away local talent to overseas.

References:

1. http://theconversation.com/tackling-unethical-authorship-deals-on-scientific-publications-36294

2. https://www.purchasing-procurement-center.com/tender-fraud.html

3. https://www.txcrimdefense.com/6-types-of-bribery-why-theyre-illegal/

– Baa (Bukan nama sebenar)

Hantar confession anda di sini -> https://iiumc.com/submit