Disagreement regarding academic dishonesty

The research carried out by the controversial (and now retired) professor of psychology Helmuth Nyborg into gender differences has been investigated and judged not to be ‘academically dishonest’. But following this decision, two researchers from the University of Aarhus have resigned from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation’s Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty (UVVU). Professors Lise Togeby from the Department of Political Science and Jens Mammen from the Department of Psychology both feel that the framework within which the committees operate is far too narrow.

“Roughly speaking, these committees can only decide whether a researcher has cheated or not. We cannot consider the issue of academic quality, or decide whether research has been carried out in accordance with good academic standards,” explains Lise Togeby in connection with her resignation. She basically believes that committees like the UVVU are superfluous. “Our universities ought to be the judge of the quality of our research,” she says.

Professor Jens Mammen says that in issues of dishonesty the committees generally find researchers ‘not guilty’ in accordance with prevailing practice at the universities, which have a legal obligation to ensure the quality of research. The purpose of UVVU is to ensure the credibility of research. But Jens Mammen believes that what actually happens is that the committees provide protection for researchers who have been accused of dishonesty.