Lawyers one, scientists nil.
Danish judges have overruled scientists in that nation, concluding that a panel of experts erred in finding that physiologist Bente Klarlund Pedersen, of the University of Copenhagen, was guilty of misconduct.
Last September, Pedersen announced that she would fight the ruling of the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty (DCSD, Danish acronym UVVU), which had said she had committed misconduct in four of 12 articles it had examined.
As we reported then, Pedersen’s case is tied to that of another Copenhagen scientist, Milena Penkowa, with whom she had collaborated and who also has been found guilty of scientific misdeeds. (The new ruling does not address Penkowa.)
According to Nature:
In a unanimous decision, the High Court of Eastern Denmark in Copenhagen cleared Klarlund Pedersen of the charges and ordered DCSD to pay 400,000 Danish kroner (US$61,000) in court and legal fees. The court found that Pedersen’s actions did not amount to scientific dishonesty.
Eigl Lego Andersen, Pedersen’s lawyer, says that the ruling “sends a very strong message” to the DCSD that not all imperfect research practices should be stamped as dishonesty. “They have to have clear definition of what is and what is not scientific dishonesty.” …
The court agreed with Klarlund Pedersen, determining that she did not act with “gross negligence” or intent to falsify or distort the scientific message of the articles in question, but it rejected the procedural argument [that the DCSD panel members had served too long].
Daniele Fanelli, a research misconduct expert at Stanford University in California, expects courts to play a more prominent role in deciding such cases in the future. Prosecutions of scientists are on the rise, and many countries are drafting legislation specifically addressing misconduct. “I think we should expect that some of these individuals accused of scientific misconduct will fight back.”
Indeed, we’ve been seeing it happen already — Piero Anversa and a colleague are suing Harvard over the institution’s investigation into their work, while Mario Saad is suing the American Diabetes Association to prevent its flagship journal Diabetes from retracting four of his papers.