uOttawa Evasion and Equivocation

uOttawa Evasion and Equivocation

University still dodging the issue and tries to distract from their failure to investigate the complaint about Professor Grabowski

Almost a year after the manipulation of research was revealed, PMI again writes to the Secretariat on Responsible Conduct of Research in Canada – below.

Dear [SRCR],

We refer to our complaint of April 19, 2018 to the Secretariat on Responsible Conduct of Research over falsification and fabrication of scientific data by Professor Jan Grabowski from the University of Ottawa (uOttawa) and to the dismissal of our complaint by Professor Sylvain Charbonneau, Vice-President, Research of the aforementioned university, dated May 30, 2018.

We refer also to the records submitted on the basis of Access to Information Act to our representative in Toronto by Ms. Julie Mercier Doucette, Governance & ATIP Officer on May 3, 2019.

We appreciate your efforts to resolve the issue. However, we must express our disappointment over the remarks made by both the representatives of your Secretariat and by uOttawa, and over the very long complaint handling time given that a year has now passed.

Please let us emphasise and state very clearly that Polish Media Issues (PMI) has nothing to do with the Polish organisation Reduta Dobrego Imienia (RDI), with the complaints of RDI regarding Professor Grabowski and with the correspondence between RDI and uOttawa. This is an irrelevant distraction created by uOttawa to deflect attention away from PMI’s allegation that they failed to investigate.

PMI is a politically independent, international organization of Polish diaspora and we do NOT maintain any contacts with RDI. The employees of your Secretariat falsely speculate about a co-operation between PMI and RDI, and try to relate our very specific complaint to the past (more general) complaints of RDI. We were NOT party to those complaints. To the best of our knowledge, RDI criticised the overall scientific activity of Professor Grabowski. Our complaint refers to – as you correctly noted in your email to Ms. Susan Zimmerman, dated August 20, 2018 (page 92 of your records) – an individual case of falsification of a scientific source (Szymon Datner, “Forest of the Righteous”, (page 64 of the records sent to our Canadian representative) and to the submission of fabricated data to the Israeli news site – Times of Israel.

The fabricated data appeared in the article by Amanda Borschel-Dan on February 8, 2018: “Complicity of Poles in the deaths of Jews is highly underestimated, scholars say according to a 1970 article, 200,000 Jews died at the hands of their Polish neighbors. A new law in Poland could make it difficult to publish these findings today.

The source of this supposed factoid was Professor Grabowski who cited Datner.

Professor Grabowski also previously made similar claims to another Israeli paper – Haaretz. Over the years, his assertion has been widely propagated in other news media and it seems it was based on the falsification of Datner’s research. The university have declined to provide any supporting research to actually support Grabowski’s contentious statement.

Furthermore, we don’t understand, why the Secretariat enclosed among the records of our complaint a letter from uOttawa dated June 22, 2017 stating, among other things, that Professor Grabowski “has been subjected to a vicious campaign directed both at his scholarship and at him personally. We are taking a firm stance against this campaign” (page 37). We appeal to you to remove this letter from your records and to make sure that PMI is not discredited by the mendacious statements made by uOttawa which have absolutely nothing to do with our complaint relating to the article in Times of Israel, which appeared on of February 8, 2018, i.e. almost 8 months AFTER the letter of Professors Graham and Kee of June 22, 2017.

We also ask you to make sure that the employees of your Secretariat desist from connecting the unrelated complaints of RDI and their correspondence with uOttawa to PMI’s complaint. Our complaint was filed with uOttawa and with your Secretariat in good faith and out of genuine concern about the ethical and research standards of Professor Grabowski and his superiors accepting the falsification of an academic source and the fabrication of scientific/research data.

We ask you to deal with our specific complaint and not with the complaints of other organisations. The same refers to the statement made by Ms. Catherine Paquet from uOttawa in her email to you dated August 20, 2018, where she claims that PMI’s and RDI’s complaints refer to “misinterpretation” and “opinion” and that it falls under “differing opinions” and “do not fit the definition of an RCR breach.” Our complaint clearly refers to falsification of a scientific source, fabrication and dissemination of false numbers to Times of Israel and it has nothing to do with any complaints of RDI. We cannot state these FACTS more clearly.

Your “agenda item for decision” on page 78 (Discussion) states that “The Secretariat therefore shares the Institution’s view that, even if the allegation were novel, the fact that R’s estimate differ from those of other scholars would not constitute a breach” (original quote). It seems to show the Secretariat’s employees don’t understand the essence of our complaint. We don’t complain over the numbers differing from those of other scholars but over the unethical method used to produce these numbers! There would be no complaint from PMI at all, if the above mentioned Jewish scholar Szymon Datner had stated in his book “Forest of the Righteous” that Poles killed 200,000 Jews. But, he did not. Conversely, Datner wrote that Poles rescued 100,000 fugitive Jews and another 100,000 were seized and murdered by Nazi authorities.

Professor Grabowski manipulated the numbers, totally changing their initial meaning, and disseminated them to the media! Such unethical behaviour should have been condemned by uOttawa without any hesitation. Instead they ignored the complaint, covered-up and refused to investigate the allegation. The university have had over a year to explain the supposed research that is the basis of the PMI complaint. The fact that they failed to do so must be taken into consideration.

It is a minor point but uOttawa did not follow their procedures with regard to the handling of this complaint alleging research malpractice. It becomes not understandable when Ms. Catherine Pasquet herself instigated a procedure then – later – the university belatedly stated it did not apply! No substantive reason or explanations being provided.

We could have written opinions that Professor Grabowski is a controversial figure. That his research and latest book have been criticised by other historians and scholars. That he attacks his critics, who are often other academics. That he tried to prevent a presentation by the Polish National Institute of Remembrance (IPN) about the Polish Righteous, (people who tried to help Jews during the German occupation, which carried a death sentence for them and their family if caught by the Nazi German occupiers), at his university. But we did not since opinions are subjective and these issues have nothing to do with the actual complaint. PMI made a very specific allegation of misconduct and cited the relevant evidence.

To reiterate, we are strongly convinced that our complaint is novel; that the decision of uOttawa to dismiss it was not correct; that Professor Grabowski was in breach of general and uOttawa’s ethical rules; that it is an RCR matter and that uOttawa should carry out a fair investigation of our complaint according to the Procedure 29-2 of the university.

We would be grateful for a final decision regarding this issue. Specifically: the 200,000 fabrication and manipulation of Datner’s research.

Yours sincerely,

Feature Photo: Copyright note: the picture of Tabaret Hall with the Desmarais Building in the background, on the University of Ottawa campus is in the public domain (RobCA, Wikipedia).

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