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OPUS did not pressure PhD student to change unfavourable results

A UCPH internal investigation has concluded that the OPUS centre did not force PhD student Arun Micheelsen to change his research results regarding the New Nordic Food movement

A University of Copenhagen (UCPH) investigation concludes that the Nordic Food-focused OPUS centre’s steering group did not force PhD student Arun Micheelsen to change the results of his research.

The results of the investigation, conducted by the rectorate of UCPH, were published in a report on 26 September. It contains a thorough review of the e-mail correspondence between the steering group, the PhD student and his tutor, plus an evaluation of OPUS’ way of publishing research.

“The correspondence between Micheelsen and the steering group regarding the three articles shows that valid and constructive criticism was given, aiming to ensure the quality of the articles. Based on this, it cannot be said that Micheelsen has been put under pressure,” says UCPH management in the report.

Celebrity chef vs. Micheelsen’s research

Part of the reason why OPUS has been under fire lately is that the steering group includes celebrity chef Claus Meyer, a figurehead of the New Nordic Food movement, which aims to develop a health-orientated Nordic culinary tradition based on local produce.

Micheelsen’s findings show that the average Dane isn’t particularly interested in replacing their current eating habits with New Nordic Food, and as Meyer’s business is centred around this he has been accused of having a vested interest in results produced at OPUS, fostering headlines like: “Celebrity chef meddles with research at OPUS”.

According to the report, however, Meyer is instrumental to OPUS as an “proponent of New Nordic Food” and his general interest and involvement in Nordic cuisine is part of the reason for his being in the steering group.

Must make rules more clear

Professor Arne Astrup, Centre Director of OPUS, describes the recent, and heavily publicised, criticism of OPUS as a ”smear campaign”. The press has focused on the centre’s Acts of Association, which states that the steering group must approve articles before publishing them. This could be seen as a breach of scientists’ right to publish their findings.

The UCPH report states that the approval procedure is in keeping with good scientific practice, and deems it fair that OPUS decides what articles are published in the OPUS name. It does, however, ask that OPUS make their rules less ambiguous, so that there can be no doubt about scientists’ right to publish their findings.

The steering group’s 16 members have unanimously agreed to do this, says Arne Astrup.

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