Researcher and hospital criticized by Commission of Inquiry

The report of the Commission of Inquiry on scientific fraud at the Rikshospitalet-Radiumhospitalet Medical Center was submitted on Friday, 30 June at 12 noon, by the chair of the Commission, Professor Anders Ekbom.

At a press conference at the hospital, Ekbom submitted the 147-page report to the hospital administration, represented by Strategy Director Stein Vaaler, and to Dean Stein Evensen of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Oslo.

The Commission was appointed in January after a researcher at the hospital admitted to having falsified the raw material for a scientific article published in the medical journal The Lancet in the autumn of 2005. The hospital and the University of Oslo asked that the independent commission conduct an inquiry into the researcher's entire authorship, any participation in scientific dishonesty on the part of co-authors and the hospital's responsibility preventing scientific dishonesty.

At the press conference, Professor Anders Ekbom stated that the work turned out to be far more comprehensive than initially expected.

The Commission has deemed most of the researcher's scientific publications invalid due to the manipulation and fabrication of raw data. Accordingly, his doctoral dissertation will be rescinded, as will a number of his later works.

The Commission has found no evidence that any of the co-authors or colleagues have taken part in the manipulation and fabrication of research data or in other ways been party to the deceit.

The Commission directs criticism at the University of Oslo and at the hospital for a lack of preliminary control and organization with a view to the researcher's PhD project. The hospital was criticized for a lack of training and consciousness-raising in respect of the researcher and other employees with a view to the rules for handling patient material, preliminary assessments of research projects and authorship. The hospital was also criticized for a lack of leadership and routines designed to expose and deal with non-conformance with its rules of procedure.

The hospital's attitude
"No one can fail to understand that the fabrication of research data is a bitter pill to swallow for the country's leading research hospital. We are grateful for the report and accept its conclusions. Now we will do everything in our power to learn from the criticism. We intend to roll up our sleeves and turn this situation into something that will eventually be positive for the hospital and for all medical research", stated Strategy Director Stein Vaaler.

He is pleased that the Commission of Inquiry is aware that the institution has already improved its control routines for research in recent years and is devoting considerable attention to research ethics.

"That is no excuse, but we agree with the Commission that it will never be possible to guarantee one hundred per cent against dishonesty and deceit within our own institution. However, we are doing what we can and we are glad that the Commission did not find grounds for believing that co-authors and other colleagues have been party to the deceit", says Vaaler.

Notwithstanding, the researcher's doctoral supervisor has to accept criticism for a lack of vigilance and follow-up of the researcher. "The supervisor accepts the Commission of Inquiry's major conclusions", adds Vaaler.

Norwegian summary of the Report of the Commission of Inquiry
English summary of the Report of the Commission of Inquiry
The complete report in Norwegian (PDF format)
This is how research is organized at RR HF

For more information, please contact:
Strategy Director Stein Vaaler, tel: (+47) 230 -71185, mobile: (+47) 991-56690
Director of Communication Trine Lind, tel: (+47) 230-70993, mobile: (+47) 915-80762
Corporate Communications, after-hours no.: (+47) 951-14134

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