Second author’s contribution did not constitute disregard

According to a decision by the director of a research institution, senior researcher A was, together with specialist researcher Y, guilty of misconduct by theft in sending a manuscript containing research results and text from the field of natural resources formulated by project researcher B, in their own names, for review to a scientific journal, with a view to possible publication. When it became evident that B would not accept the publication of the article in such a form that B was only mentioned in the acknowledgements, A offered to withdraw his/her authorship. Both A and Y received a warning related to theft. The investigation team that evaluated the case was not unanimous in its statement.

Senior researcher A requested a statement from TENK concerning his/her role as co-author of the article, whether the investigation team had been properly assembled, and whether it should have been unanimous in its decision.

Based on the materials submitted to TENK, it was not possible to prove any bias of any of the members of the investigation team. The requirement of an external member was also fulfilled, and investigation teams are not required to reach unanimity in their decisions. Therefore TENK found no fault with the RCR process.

TENK considered the withdrawal of authorship to have been an inappropriate reaction to the situation, but noted that for its part it demonstrates that A’s intention was not to steal the credit for B’s research results. A had also clearly indicated to Y his/her worries with regard to correctly crediting B’s contributions. Therefore TENK concluded that A was not guilty of theft of research results.