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FORHEAD Working Group on Ethics in Research Collaboration

Promoting Healthy and Sustainable Research Collaboration

FORHEAD has amassed a wealth of experience in facilitating collaboration across disciplinary and other professional boundaries. Distilling and sharing this experience will be part of our agenda for 2020. Kathinka Furst will be taking the lead in organizing a working group on ethics in collaborative research that will consider the challenges posed by different forms of collaboration and curate a set of resources for navigating them.

Follow up on the Lora Wainwright plagiarism and misconduct case

We will continue to hold Lora Wainwright accountable for her ethical misconduct and document the response of the institutions involved. After media articles (here and here) revealed that Oxford University investigated Lora Wainwright and found her guilty of serious misconduct, MIT Press put a notice on its website indicating that the book is out of print and that revisions are under review.

However, the original book, with the plagiarized content and misrepresentations has not been withdrawn and is still available in libraries.


For background on this case, click here.

Update on Anna Lora Wainwright's Plagiarism and Ethical Misconduct

Now Oxford University has acknowledged that it conducted an investigation into Anna Lora Wainwright and found her guilty of serious misconduct we think it is appropriate to make the full Complaint public (Click here). 

We also think people should see the email Click here the FORHEAD Co-Directors sent Lora Wainwright in 2016, telling her she must acknowledge the intellectual contribution of her Chinese colleagues. We do not understand how, after receiving this email, her misconduct could be "unintentional."

We are also posting the letter (Click here) we sent to the Registrar of Oxford protesting the inadequate response.

Our previous statement with additional evidence is here.

Intellectual Property Violations and Research Misconduct

in Anna Lora Wainwright's Resigned Activism

Dear FORHEAD colleagues:

Since 2008, FORHEAD has worked to promote interdisciplinary research on the complex interactions between environment health and development in China. Through small grants, our annual conference, the Summer Institute and other gatherings, we have provided a platform for academic exchange and collaboration that has helped to strengthen the evidence base for policy and raise public awareness of the complex challenges of environmental impacts on health. (Click here to see a brochure on 10 years of our work).

FORHEAD has always been committed to the principles of equality and mutual respect among participants from different disciplines and backgrounds. We are therefore sad to report that Anna Lora Wainwright (ALW), a researcher at the University of Oxford who participated in several FORHEAD projects, has violated those principles and committed intellectual property violations and other forms of ethical misconduct in her book, Resigned Activism: Learning to Live with Pollution in Rural China, which was published by MIT Press in 2017. This includes the misappropriation of the work of others (plagiarism) and errors of fact, as well as selective referencing and language that obscure the division of labor and the roles and contributions of Anna Lora Wainwright and other researchers to the research.

In an exchange with her in June 2016 over one draft chapter of Resigned Activism, we warned ALW about these problems. She insisted they were oversights and made revisions to that chapter. But in 2018 we discovered that the problems in other chapters of Resigned Activism are worse. As the evidence shows (click here for relatеd evidence), this is not a case of a few missing citations or minor misunderstandings. It is serious plagiarism and misrepresentations involving multiple projects. Especially after our warning, we do not see how this could have been unintentional.

The most direct effect of ALW's misconduct has been to deny her collaborators professional recognition and rewards for their work. FORHEAD is supporting them in seeking redress and documenting this process. But this case has implications far beyond the individuals involved. The issues it raises of trust, fairness and reciprocity go to the heart of the project of collaboration to which our FORHEAD network has been committed. We are sharing the evidence with you in order to encourage debate and reflection about how individuals and institutions can ensure high ethical standards in international collaborations.

Detailed evidence is attached.

FORHEAD Working Group on Ethics in Collaboration