Coming up with the idea for a research project did not automatically confer authorship

In an RCR notification, professor A from a university claimed that professor Y and postgraduate student B from the same field, who had worked on a project led by A, had misled A in the project collaboration and published results in their own names. According to A, Y and B had prepared a test series in secret from A and misused project funds, and had written an article on the basis of the test series which eventually made up the second part of B’s doctoral thesis publication. A was B’s main doctoral thesis supervisor. A claimed that B and Y had not informed A properly and therefore made his/her work as project leader and main thesis supervisor difficult.

Based on a preliminary RCR inquiry and an investigation proper, the university’s chancellor concluded that there had been no RCR violation.

Based on the original documents relating to the investigation, TENK concluded that the investigation had been completed according to its guidelines. In the request for a statement and his/her later letters, A was unable to provide proof of an original scientific idea that might have been stolen for the article in question.

In TENK’s view, coming up with the idea for a research project, leading the project or supervising the author are not in themselves automatic grounds for authorship of publications created during the project. The actions of various parties in the case were unusual in many ways, but the inquiry did not reveal any such disregard that could be considered to constitute an RCR violation. TENK considers the RCR investigation to have been appropriately conducted by the university.