Documentation 001

Wissenschaftliche Plagiate in der Medizin
Medical Plagiarism

See my work Wissenschaftliche Plagiate - Plagiarism


Wissenschaftliche Plagiate in der Medizin
Medical Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the unauthorized illegal usage of another person's intellectual property.
Hauschild, Axel (Universitätsklinik Kiel)
Fierlbeck, Gerhard (Universitätsklinik Tübingen)

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During recent years, significant examples of plagiarism, scientific fraud, and copyright violations have emerged at German unversity clinics revealing its adverse impact on science reputation in Germany. Similar cases have been reported and publicized elsewhere. Although investigations on the causative motives of plagiarism are at best approximative, the specific academic environment found at German university clinics reflects at least some of the motives why research personnel dares to challenge the legislative system.

Among others, the predominant personal motives of plagiators are:

Academic narcissism to be recognized as part of "élite" Gain of significant advantages to personal career "design" Gain of being awarded scientific reputation without having to work for on his/her own Gain of financials benefits

While the latter motive floats easily into the environment of corruption, it is important to point out that all of the motives listed above are executed at illegal levels of manipulation of other person's intellectual properties. In most civilized countries, these manipulations are subject to legal prosecution. In Germany, however, just only attempting to disclose the circumstances of the allegations previously made (and meanwhile confirmed) led to the disclosure of lacking cooperation, evidenced as a "barricade of wagons" from the institutions involved. As the German Task Force, instituted as a means to sophisticated investigation, indicated in its final statement (see below), the members of the Task Force themselvesy have become disillusioned by the unwillingness of most of the institutions involved. It appeared that within a "closed society", there is unspoken consensus to never let information become public about the inner circle's motives, strategies, and techniques involved. What is quite even more striking and alarming is the fact that in Germany even the legal institutions apparently do not exert adequate willingness for investigation and prosecution. Most of the cases brought to court are suspended by district attorneys leaving the violations unsued thus likewise encouraging plagiarists to repeat the fraud techniques used. Only rarely, scientific plagiarism is sentenced according to criminal law (as it is written law). Annals of Oncology 2000, 11 (8): 904 News - "Task force on German fraud disillusioned"

"In 1998 the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), Germany's research council, set up a task force to investigate a case of alleged systematic scientific fraud centred on Friedhelm Hermann, a cancer researcher who worked at the universities of Freiburg, Berlin and Ulm. The task force, which published its report on June 20, was a small team of scientists headed by Ulf Rapp, a cell biologist from the University of Würzburg (Nature 1998, 395, 533). The group has been analysing the data in 347 papers published by Hermann between 1985 and 1996 and also papers by other scientists, who have been working with him during the same years. The members of the task force indicated during the presentation of the report, that their experience has generally been negative. Extensive evidence of data manipulation, a lack of co-operation from some authors, and the lack of interest from many of the journals in which suspicious papers had been published was the main reason for the disillusion (Nature 2000; 405: 871). In that respect, Annals of Oncology has provided in a timely way all the papers which were requested by the task force, including all the information we had and which could be of interest for the investigation. In the final report, the members of the task force hint at the possibility that other top clinical professors might have been involved in possible scientific misconduct. In response to these findings, the DFG has now launched a formal investigation of some papers of R. Mertelsmann, chair of the department of hematology and oncology at University of Freiburg, and Lothar Kanz and Wolfram Brugger, respectively professor and senior researcher at the University of Tübingen. The report places most of the blame for this case of scientific misconduct or standards in clinical research in Germany. In particular, they criticise the fact that clinicians do not have a formal training in research methods and the well-known problem of scientific careers based only on a extensive publication records. Some of the men of the task force were also critical of the insufficient cooperation by professional societies (Nature 1998, 395: 532). However, Volker Diehl, president of the German Society for Hematology and Oncology, responded the society had acted very rapidly, expelling Hermann as well as his co-worker Marion Brach, and in setting up a group of retired professors to whom young scientists could turn if they are concerned about misconduct (Nature 2000; 405: 871)."

Further reading:

Dtsch ÄBl 1997, Heft 41, 94, 10.10.1997, A-2624, 2626-28 (32, 34-5) Forschungsbetrug - Rechtliche Sanktionsmöglichkeiten - Nur eklatante Fälle können geahndet werden.

Dtsch ÄBl 1997, Heft 41, 94, 10.10.1997, A-2627-8 (35-6) Forschungsbetrug in Großbritannien - Fachmedien ergreifen Initiative zur Aufdeckung.

Dtsch ÄBl 1997, Heft 42, 94, 17.10.1997, A-2716-18 (36-38) Forschungsbetrug Fall Hermann- Brach - Gutachter bestätigen den dringenden Verdacht der Manipulation.

Dtsch ÄBl 1998, Heft 25, 95, 19.06.1998, A-1564, 1566, 1570-1 (4, 6, 10-1) Max-Planck- Institut - Datenmanipulation gestanden.

arznei-telegramm 17. September 1999, 09-99, S. 89-90

Annals of Oncology 2000, 11 (8): 904 Task force on German fraud disillusioned.

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