Research inquiry for UniAdelaide clears Maryanne Demasi of thesis misconduct

An independent inquiry for the University of Adelaide has found it “could not be satisfied that any research misconduct had occurred,” in the 2004 PhD thesis of medical scientist and controversial science journalist Maryanne Demasi. The panel, chaired by former SA supreme court justice John Suan, investigated whether 17 images in Dr Demassi’s thesis were “duplicated and/or manipulated in a manner that deviated from the applicable standards at the relevant time.”

The inquiry report, quietly published on UniAdelaide’s website, states that Dr Demasi denied the dupication alleged in 14 instances but said she had, or probably had, duplicated images in the other three.

The inquiry heard the original x-ray film of “the impuged figures” was lost, or “discarded in accordance with appropriate records management requirements,” during the 14 years since Dr Demasi submitted her thesis. The inquiry report states the panel accepted this evidence, that “they could not be satisfied that duplication had taken place.”

Dr Demasi said that in the case of the other three images she had understood at the time that duplication was acceptable. “The relevant experts agreed, albeit they considered duplication was not best practice. The panel accepted this evidence. They could not be satisfied that the duplication constituted a deviation from the applicable standards at the relevant time,” the report states.

Mr Sulan’s panel colleagues were, Moira O’Bryan, biological sciences, Monash University; Jacqueline Phillips neurosciences, Macquarie University; and Peter Schofield, Neuroscience Research Australia. They took evidence from independent experts, Dr Demasi, her dissertation supervisors and “a senior researcher” in her lab.

Dr Demasi’s thesis is here. After completing her research, she worked as a medical scientist before becoming a science journalist. Two stories for the ABC, on the safety of Wifi and connections between cholesterol and heart diseases, were extremely controversial.

The University of Adelaide says it has accepted the inquiry’s findings and “no further action will be taken.”


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