A suspected that doctoral candidate B had expressed the topic of his doctoral dissertation in a misleading way and thus obtained a research permit for confidential material. B had published an article which did not state that it was based on data obtained through a research permit. A had found out that, in A’s view, B had detailed in their research permit application a different topic to the one which B themselves claimed to be studying. A also suspected that B had misled the funder in the same way in B’s grant application, and that Professor Emeritus C, who was B’s supervisor, had given B favourable statements despite being aware of what was happening. The university carried out a preliminary inquiry which concluded that there had been no RCR violation. A was dissatisfied with this decision and requested a statement from TENK.
In its statement, TENK pointed out that, at the general level, it is the responsibility of the researcher to ensure that they use research data acquired through permits for the purpose given in their permit application and the purpose for which it was granted. B had stated in his research permit applications that he would use the data in his doctoral dissertation, which deals with topic X. He had also received research permits for this purpose. According to TENK, B should have indicated that the article used data obtained through a research permit. However, B had clarified their use of sources in a discussion within the publication that began after the article was published.
In this respect, TENK considered that B’s activities could be considered irresponsible. However, it was not sufficiently gross or careless in nature that it could be considered to be a case of misconduct or disregard for responsible conduct of research as defined in the RCR guidelines. As the events must be examined in the RCR process before submitting a RCR notification, TENK did not comment in advance on the content of B’s doctoral dissertation and, for example, how the data concerned will be used in the dissertation.
In general, TENK considered that the clarification or adjustment of a research topic during the doctoral dissertation process is fairly common and does not in itself violate responsible conduct of research. In connection with the preliminary inquiry, B had stated that they would include the article as part of the doctoral dissertation dealing with this topic. The preliminary inquiry considered such use to be appropriate. TENK agreed with this view.