22 March 2011

Rector calls for changes after Penkowa case

Learning from the past

Based on the 700-page report from Kammeradvokaten (the legal adviser to the Danish government), the University of Copenhagen will now change certain regulations and procedures to prevent similar cases from occurring again.

Based on the just released report from Kammeradvokaten, the University will amongst other things establish an ombudsman for students as well as make clearer regulations for researchers’ accounts and the way suspicions of scientific fraud are to be handled.

“The Milena Penkowa case has pointed out some weak points in the University’s administrative procedures, which I will make sure to rectify. It is important to have an open debate as to what the University can learn from the Penkowa case. This includes securing the integrity of our research as well as the University’s administrative procedures,” says Rector Ralf Hemmingsen.

Five point plan

Rector has proposed the first five initiatives to the University Board today:

  • Ambassador for students: The University must become better at helping students, which become involved in troubling cases at the University. Therefore, students must in the future have access to an ambassador, who can advise and represent their best interests (not to include exam complaints).

  • New rules for award and distinction nominations: An expert committee will from now on have to produce a signed nomination when nominating a researcher to an award, before the case is sent to management. It will thus no longer be possible for researchers to nominate themselves for an award.

  • Revision of the PhD programme: All young researchers undergoing their PhD education must have knowledge of the basic rules and procedures in connection with research ethics, proper scientific practice, data handling and storage, documentation requirements and procedures as to what researchers should do in cases of suspicion of fraud.

  • Better control of research accounts: There must be an even clearer distinction between the individual researcher and the accounts assistant, who manages appendices and so forth. In the future, an accounts assistant must therefore always answer to an administrative superior instead of the researcher.

  • Clearer rules for reporting scientific fraud: The legal position of those that report suspicion of poor scientific practice or fraud must be protected. Also, when dealing with specific cases, it must be made clear what is management’s responsibility as opposed to what is the University’s internal committee for good scientific practice’s (Practice Committee) responsibility.

“I look forward to having a dialogue with the student organisations, the Danish Research Training Committee at the University and with the academic councils at the faculties. In addition, we are waiting to see if the results from other investigations, such as the one from the National Audit Office of Denmark and the investigation of Penkowa’s scientific research, will give reason for further intiatives,” says Ralf Hemmingsen.

Contact information

Director of Communications
Jasper Steen Winkel
Phone: +45 28 75 42 62