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Press Release No. 9 | 18 March 2016
Reprimand and Ban on Submission of Proposals for Three Years

DFG Joint Committee announces measures against life sciences researcher

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is again imposing sanctions following an instance of scientific misconduct. At its session in Bonn, the Joint Committee of Germany's largest research funding organisation and the central self-governing organisation of the German research community announced that it will issue a written reprimand to a life sciences researcher and bar her from submitting proposals for a period of three years. Both actions were implemented in accordance with the DFG Rules of Procedure for Dealing with Scientific Misconduct and at the recommendation of the Committee of Inquiry on Allegations of Scientific Misconduct.

The researcher admitted to having committed scientific misconduct during a DFG-funded research visit in the USA to a research institution in the USA. The institution reported the matter to the DFG.

During the subsequent investigation the individual in question also admitted to having deliberately misrepresented an illustration in a publication. In addition, she admitted to manipulating the data on which a second illustration was based to make it better fit the intended results of the study. She said that this was due to personal problems and the high pressure to achieve success in her scientific working environment.

The DFG's Committee of Inquiry on Allegations of Scientific Misconduct chaired by DFG Secretary General Dorothee Dzwonnek judged the individual's behaviour to be deliberate data manipulation and thus scientific misconduct. The pressure cited by the researcher was deemed, as in previous cases of misconduct, to be understandable, but did not excuse the misconduct.

The committee proposed that, as suitable measures to take account of the seriousness of this behaviour, the researcher should receive a written reprimand and be barred from submitting research proposals for three years. These measures have now been confirmed through the decision of the Joint Committee.

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