Deficiencies in the management of research projects, but no disregard for the responsible conduct of research (TENK 2018:1)

A, a former doctoral student of the university, requested a statement from TENK in a case in which the university’s investigations had started already in 2014. TENK gave its first statement in the matter in 2016, according to which the university should initiate an investigation proper in order to clarify the unclear publishing practices of the natural sciences department. The investigation proper conducted did not reveal an RCR violation.

In their new request for statement, A requested TENK’s opinion on whether their contribution in the performance of the research on which B had based their M.Sc. thesis had been considered as appropriate the investigation proper. A also continued to question the solutions related to the authorship of articles written in the department’s research projects as well as the composition and competence of the investigation committee that had investigated the matter.

In its statement, TENK emphasised the responsibility of research project leaders and concluded that there had been obvious inadequacies in the management. The responsibilities, duties or issues related to authorship in the research group had not been specified or recorded in a manner consistent with responsible conduct of research. Based on the materials submitted to TENK it was not, however, possible to find beyond doubt that the actions related to the tangle of events had resulted from wilful misleading of the scientific community.

According to TENK, the actions also did not reflect such a degree of grossness that it would be possible to find beyond doubt that they were a result of disregard for the responsible conduct of research. Based on the materials submitted to TENK, it was also not possible to conclude that any of the investigation committee members would have been incompetent.

TENK concluded that the RCR investigation had been conducted in the university as appropriate according to the RCR 2012 guidelines.