Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Management prof with 12 retractions loses his license to teach

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Ulrich Lichtenthaler

Ulrich Lichtenthaler

Ulrich Lichtenthaler, the management professor at the University of Mannheim who has had a dozen papers retracted, has now lost his license to teach.

The WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management, where Lichtenthaler earned his PhD, announced the move Friday, saying (courtesy Google Translate):

Allegations of dishonest academic practice against Professor Dr. Ulrich Lichtenthaler:

Senate WHU decides withdrawing teaching qualification

Vallendar 13 September 2013: At its meeting on 11 September 2013 the Senate of the WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management unanimously Professor Dr. Ulrich Lichtenthaler withdraw the teaching qualifications gained at WHU. The withdrawal was preceded by an intensive investigation into the allegations of scientific misconduct, which had a full investigation of the goal.

After a thorough examination and discussion of the Senate of the WHU has come to the conclusion that an essential condition for the granting of teaching certificate was not given. Prof. Lichtenthaler may appeal the denial contradiction.

Of the procedure

After the Dean of WHU in summer 2012 had learned of statistical defects and other scientific shortcomings in the work of Prof. Lichtenthaler, these were investigated in detail. The existing at WHU Commission for safeguarding good scientific practice laid on 13 June 2013 after a thorough examination of the scientific work of Professor Dr. Lichtenthaler its final report to the Dean of WHU ago. The report was based on the examination by the Senate on 20 Began on 11 June and September led to the decision on the revocation of the teaching certificate. Decisions are based on the principles and procedures of WHU for dealing with scientific misconduct and the habilitation procedure.

The development was first reported in the Rhein-Zeitung newspaper. As Joel West, who has been following the Lichtenthaler case, explains:

For those of us outside Germany, Wikipedia helpfully explains that the Habillitation is a post-doctoral examination (in German-speaking Europe) that is the prerequisite for the Lehrbefähigung (teaching certificate). I don’t know what normally happens to a professor who used to have a Lehrbefähigung but no longer has one — since I imagine this doesn’t happen very often.

Debora Weber-Wulff, at the Copy-Shake-Paste blog, introduces another term, the venia legendi.

Lichtenthaler’s current employer, the University of Manneim, is still investigating.

Written by Ivan Oransky

September 16th, 2013 at 9:30 am

  • ST September 16, 2013 at 10:13 am

    I cited several of Ulrich’s papers and was disappointed by this unethical activity. It’s impossible to know the true source- whether it was the pressure for publications and rating (e.g., the Handelsblatt rankings of faculty) or something more personal. I hope that Mannheim will come to a speedy decision that allows Ulrich to leave academia and pursue a happy and productive career somewhere else. He is still very young, and he should have many opportunities outside of academia. Certainly in the profession and among entr/innov/strategy/manangement scholars, most editors are really not going to trust any submission by Lichtenthaler in the future.

  • Debora Weber-Wulff September 16, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    The license to teach (facultas docendi) and the right to teach (venia legendi) both have to do with the habilitation, the second doctorate German universities still like to have. Each state has different rules for whether the venia legendi automatically follows from the facultas docendi, or whether some additional thing has to happen. I’ve tried to dig out the rules for the WHU, but no luck yet in finding them. Someone with a habilitation from one school is expected to teach at least one course there per year (for free, of course). Once they get a professorship, however, they don’t have to teach at the school that granted the habilitation anymore, but many often still do.
    Now – Lichtenthaler was made professor with the habilitation, the habilitation was withdrawn for scientific misconduct. It is not clear if the habilitation was a so-called cumulative habilitation, that means, a number of published papers was submitted in lieu of the “second book”. Since there is no habiliation publication in the national library, this is quite possible. If the withdrawn papers were part of the habilitation, then he didn’t have a habilitation when he was made professor in Mannheim, so they can probably fire him.
    If he has just lost the habilitation on the grounds of bad scientific practice elsewhere, it will be interesting. Jan Hendrik Schön went all the way to the German Supreme Administrative Court to learn that yes, they can take away his doctorate for scientific misconduct. The university could argue that he held a valid habilitation when he applied, so they want to keep him.
    In any case, resolution will probably drag on for years, as each takes the other to court.

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