Professional Misconduct

Dongguang Li

Address: Perth, Australia
Sex: Male
Occupation: Academic


Associate Professor Dr Dongguang Li of Edith Cowan University’s School of Computer & Security Science was sacked for alleged serious misconduct relating to accusations he did not credit co-authors.

Before he was fired on January 11 2011, Associate Professor Dongguang Li had worked at ECU since September 1995.

A Fair Work Australia decision published in March 2012 reveals Dr Li’s employment was terminated on the alleged grounds of serious misconduct.

This was after ECU accused him of plagiarising five papers and misleading the university as to their authorship.

In its decision, Fair Work Australia Deputy President Brendan McCarthy considered ECU had mischaracterised the plagiarism allegations.


Mr McCarthy considered the allegations were related more to who held intellectual property over the papers.

Before Mr McCarthy, ECU contended Dr Li had published papers solely under his own name when clearly others had been involved in the research.

Dr Li claimed he had been solely responsible for researching and writing the papers and that the research and papers had been stolen from him.

He also argued that some of the papers published in his name had not been intended to be published or were published without his consent.

“I do not consider Li’s conduct to be acts of plagiarism but rather a failure to follow academic authorship standards and protocols,” Mr McCarthy noted.

However, he did consider Dr Li was not the sole person involved in researching or developing the papers.


Mr McCarthy therefore found that Dr Li had committed acts of professional misconduct.

However, when ECU held a Misconduct Committee hearing into the matter Dr Li was not present.

This occurred because he had gone to China in contravention of an ECU direction that he remain in Perth while the matter was being investigated.

Mr McCarthy considered Dr Li should have stayed in Perth, but that the hearing should not have been conducted until he returned.

He therefore found ECU did not give Dr Li a proper opportunity to explain his conduct.

“I find that Li did engage in conduct … constituting misconduct of such a nature that there was a valid reason for his dismissal,” Mr McCarthy noted.


However, Mr McCarthy found the dismissal was unfair because the Misconduct Committee procedure had been flawed.

“I do not consider that reinstatement is appropriate in this case,” Mr McCarthy noted.

“I regard the relationship as being soured to the point of it being unrecoverable.”

Mr McCarthy ordered ECU to pay Dr Li compensation of two months pay.

“But for the inadequacy of the Misconduct Committee procedures, I would have found that the dismissal was not unfair,” Mr McCarthy noted.

“Had Li been able to provide his explanations I doubt that the result would have been different, namely that his employment would nevertheless have been terminated.”