Doctoral supervisor did not inappropriately hamper the dissertation work (TENK 2021:17)

University doctoral candidate X suspected Professor A, who was the supervisor of his doctoral dissertation, of inappropriately hampering his doctoral dissertation. According to X, A had questioned the validity of A’s work and proposed changes to a manuscript intended as a partial publication of the dissertation which hampered and delayed its publication. The university made a decision according to which the activities of A did not involve a RCR violation, but rather a critical assessment that was part of dissertation supervision work and which was aimed at furthering X’s doctoral dissertation. X was dissatisfied with the university’s decision and requested a statement from TENK.

In its statement, TENK did not comment on the differences in views between the parties on the validity of the dissertation, as differences in scientific interpretations and assessments are part of scientific discussion and do not violate responsible conduct of research. TENK based its statement on the section of the RCR guidelines which state that other irresponsible practices may occur in research work, one of which is “other inappropriate hampering” of the work of another researcher. According to the guidelines, such practices can at their most serious meet the criteria for an RCR violation. On the basis of the information available to TENK, it could not verify that A was guilty of such actions. TENK therefore agreed with the decision of the university that this was not a RCR violation.