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Klarlund found guilty of misconduct

One of the University of Copenhagen’s high profile professors, Bente Klarlund Pedersen, has been found guilty of scientific dishonesty in a case spanning more than two years

Sports physiology expert Bente Klarlund Pedersen can now add a somewhat more unflattering title to her otherwise impressive CV:

The Danish Committees for Scientific Dishonesty (DCSD, in Danish: Udvalgene Vedrørende Videnskabelig Uredelighed, ed.) has found her guilty of scientific dishonesty in two out of the three cases they investigated.

Read more about the case here: Klarlund: I am not dishonest

Misleading material

In one of two cases where Klarlund has been deemed guilty, she stands accused of gross negligence for not having noticed that the neuroscientist Milena Penkowa had re-used and manipulated microscope images of muscle cells.

In the second case, the DCSD has found six out of 12 articles to be scientifically dishonest. Klarlund, as the author of one of the papers, has been involved in choosing specific tests for a specific part of the group of test subjects, but it is unclear that a selection actually took place, and what criteria the selection was based on.

Furthermore, in five of the articles, material has been used from previous studies without this being made clear in the articles. And this, according to DCSD, has been done in a way that misleads the reader.

Encouraging a scientific witch hunt

“It is a serious case, that I and many others in the Danish scientific community have learnt from. I personally indicted Milena Penkowa to DCSD concerning four articles that I co-authored. This was done in 2011, when I became aware that she might have committed fraud. At the same time, I withdrew the articles,” says Klarlund in an email to the Danish site, Uniavisen.

“It is only right that errors and oversights can be criticized. But I think that the verdict is wrong. It offends me that one can be found guilty of scientific dishonesty without having cheated.”

“I fear that the verdict will pave the way for a scientific community in which a zero-error policy will allow people to indict their competitors to DCSD. It won’t benefit Danish research, and my international colleagues are baffled by the Danish policy,” she says.

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