3 January 2011

Chairman rejects additional Penkowa investigation

Penkowa case

The University of Copenhagen Board has received an open letter concerning the Milena Penkowa case, signed by 58 staff members from the University of Copenhagen and other Danish universities, demanding that an impartial committee investigate all details of the case.

This proposal has been rejected by Chairman of the Board Nils Strandberg Pedersen:

“The Board finds the case to be very serious, and has received several statements in the case. Penkowa’s research is already being treated by the relevant authority, The Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty (DCSD). A parallel internal investigation aiming to uncover other possible suspicions about scientific dishonesty would create confusion, and would be professionally incorrect as long as an impartial treatment of a specific suspicion about dishonesty is taking place at DCSD. If further detailed concerns about dishonesty should occur, more cases would possibly be reported to DCSD,” Nils Strandberg Pedersen says.

Regarding the University’s treatment of the case, the Danish law firm Kammeradvokaten (the legal adviser to the Danish government) will deliver a temporary report to the Board in the beginning of the new year. However, the Chairman believes that there is no doubt about the impartiality of Rector’s Office in the case. Neither Rector nor Prorector have any professional, economical or personal interests or relations to Penkowa or the project that she has participated in at the University of Copenhagen.

The University draws attention to the fact that several of the people that signed the letter are part of the case and therefore cannot be considered impartial. However, everyone is free to submit any specific concerns to the DCSD. Apart from this, Penkowa is no longer working at the University of Copenhagen. The University of Copenhagen and Milena Penkowa mutually decided to terminate their working relationship in December 2010.

”It is important to emphasise that employee cases, when they have become part of the public eye, are very difficult to handle externally. The information becomes asymmetric, but due to formal reasons the employer is restricted from giving an adequate public statement about the issues that exist and the decisions that are being made,” Nils Strandberg Pedersen states.