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Press Release No. 54 | 15 December 2017
Scientific Misconduct: Written Reprimand and Two-Year Ban on Submitting Proposals

Joint Committee imposes sanctions against Jena gerontologist Karl Lenhard Rudolph

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is again taking action following an instance of scientific misconduct: In Bonn, the Joint Committee of Germany's largest research funding organisation and the central self-governing organisation for science and research in Germany has imposed sanctions against gerontologist and Leibniz prizewinner Prof. Dr. Karl Lenhard Rudolph in accordance with the DFG Rules of Procedure for Dealing with Scientific Misconduct.

Rudolph, who works at the Leibniz Institute on Aging – Fritz Lipman Institute (FLI) of the Leibniz Association in Jena, received a written reprimand and an exclusion from the right to apply for DFG funds for a period of two years from the Joint Committee. With this action, the Joint Committee followed a recommendation of the DFG's Committee of Inquiry on Allegations of Scientific Misconduct.

In 2016, the DFG launched an investigation against Rudolph after it received an allegation of data manipulation in relation to a publication of which Rudolph was the last author. At the same time, the Leibniz Association also launched an investigation, during which the DFG procedure was initially suspended. This procedure came to an end in June 2017 with scientific misconduct being confirmed and action being taken against Rudolph by the Executive Board of the Leibniz Association.

With the resolution of the Joint Committee, the DFG investigation procedure against Rudolph has now also been concluded. On the basis of several written statements by Rudolph, the final report of the investigation of the Leibniz Association and a hearing with Rudolph in person, the DFG Committee of Inquiry on Allegations of Scientific Misconduct concluded that there were errors in data representation in three publications which received DFG funding. Rudolph was the responsible last author and corresponding author of these publications and the committee believes that he could and should have been able to recognise the errors in data representation, which he also admitted himself during the investigation.

As adequate and proportionate measures in accordance with the DFG Rules of Procedure for Dealing with Scientific Misconduct, the Committee of Inquiry recommended that the Joint Committee issue a written reprimand and an exclusion from the right to apply for DFG funds for a period of two years, which it then adopted. "This takes appropriate account of the failings of Mr. Rudolph," said the Chair of the Committee of Inquiry, DFG Secretary General Prof. Dorothee Dzwonnek, following the decision of the Joint Committee.

As highlighted by Dzwonnek, the publications in question were not based on incorrect data. She also said that there is no connection to the awarding of the DFG's Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, which was presented to Rudolph in 2009 for his fundamental research work; all three publications in question were published after this date.

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