Scientific editorship and the responsibility of the editor-in-chief

A, a doctor in humanities, suspected that B, a professor in the same field, was guilty of theft as well as inappropriate hampering and delaying of research work as A’s name had not been cited as an editor of a scientific symposium of which B was the editor-in-chief. The symposium had not been published yet when A made an RCR notification to the university, but B had told A that he/she was no longer one of the editors of the publication. A felt that he/she should be cited as an editor as he/she had participated in the editing work throughout the project and the original idea had been his/hers. B felt that A had not followed the schedule agreed with the other editors. No written agreements had been made on the work, and the parties had differing views of what had been agreed otherwise.

According to the preliminary RCR investigation conducted by the university, B was not guilty of an RCR violation. 

TENK concluded that editorship does not depend on whether a person actually participates in the revision and editing of the texts, but editorship is also associated with the scientific / mental contribution. In its statement, however, TENK did not assess the adequacy of A’s scientific contribution for the editorship of the book since A had waived his/her rights during the process, albeit he/she later unilaterally cancelled the waiver.

TENK concluded that editor-in-chief B should have been responsible for trying to settle the matter before publication. Since it was not a question of gross negligence, however, it was not necessary that the case be investigated as a disregard for RCR. Furthermore, it was not a question of theft as A’s contribution to the project was mentioned in the foreword and B’s name was not cited as a co-author. TENK found it reprehensible, however, that the book was published in the university’s own publication series before the final result of the RCR process was available. 

TENK concluded that the university had acted in accordance with RCR guidelines with its decision that B was not guilty of an RCR violation. When the RCR process was still under way, B made an RCR notification about A’s conduct. However, TENK issued its statement solely on the basis of the material in the original RCR notification.