A high-ranking official of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) – Manila has been accused on social media of passing off as his own an undergraduate thesis prepared by communication research majors Angela Clariz Del Rosario, Precious Joy Pacho, and Regine Raboy (they all graduated last April).
According to a post on the Facebook page “Wag Kang Kukorap – PUP,” the paper “Hidden from your timeline: A study on the relationship of Facebook envy and self-esteem” was submitted to two international journals, the International Multidisciplinary Research Journal of the European Academic Research and the Asia Pacific Journal of Research with Dr. Radicon Bernarte listed as a research co-author and on the second one, its sole author.
The post has only been shared 100 times, but it has received numerous comments – mostly in defense of Bernarte. Apart from being the chairperson of the Department of Communication Research, Bernarte is also the concurrent director of PUP’s Research and and Extension Management Department.
Among those who spoke in defense of Bernarte are two of the researchers, Del Rosario and Pacho. In their separate comments on the abovementioned Facebook post, they both reiterated that Bernarte did not steal their work, saying that the professor and their group had a written agreement pertaining to authorship of the research (more on this later – TFS).
The researchers refused to speak further regarding the matter when contacted by The Filipino Scribe. “Ilang beses man kaming tanungin, iisa lamang ang isasagot namin at iyon ang katotohanan na walang nangyaring ‘pagnanakaw’ sa aming thesis,” they said.
The two added that they are in fact thankful to Bernarte for facilitating their participation in local and international academic conferences. Apart from being recognized as the 2nd Best Thesis in the PUP College of Communication’s Sikat Awards, the research also received the Moderator’s Choice Award during the 4th National Communication Research Conference 2015 at the University of the Philippines – Diliman.
For her part, Ms Cherry Cabigon-Pebre, chair of PUP’s Journalism Department, uploaded on her Facebook page a copy of the co-authorship agreement that Del Rosario, Pacho, and Raboy entered with Bernarte. This document according to her belies the claim that Bernarte “stole” the research. According to her, the document was notarized by a lawyer and has been submitted to PUP’s Intellectual Property Office.
In a subsequent post, the administrator/s of the Facebook page “Wag Kang Kukorap – PUP” reiterated that “an agreement between teacher and student does not serve as an excuse for plagiarism.” It continued: “What Dr. Bernarte did was reprehensible in any academic realm. Agreement with students notwithstanding, the mere fact that he used his influence to not only include his name in the research of his students but to claim it as his own is the very definition of intellectual dishonesty and plagiarism.”
In response to a query from TFS, Bernarte said he will not discuss the specifics of the charges against him because no formal complaint has been filed. “Social media is not the proper venue to answer the accusations. But I know the post is maligning my reputation and my image as a person and as a professional, and there are legal options we are now considering,” he said.