ETH Zurich’s Executive Board has launched an investigation into allegations of research misconduct by a professor in the former Institute for Astronomy.
The Executive Board is launching this investigation on the recommendation of the university’s trusted intermediary for research integrity. The task of the Investigation Committee is to determine whether ETH Zurich’s Guidelines for Research Integrity have, in fact, been breached.
Back in October the university’s supervisory body, the ETH Board, recommended opening an administrative enquiry to investigate circumstances in the former Institute for Astronomy. Allegations of possible research misconduct were also to be examined. After a preliminary evaluation by the university’s trusted intermediary corroborated these suspicions, an Investigation Committee has now been set up. The professor in question will be relieved of her duties until both investigations have been completed.
“We are expanding the investigation in order to ensure that we carefully examine all irregularities in the former Institute for Astronomy, including anything that might fall beyond the scope of the administrative investigation,” says Detlef Günther. The ETH Zurich Vice President for Research and Corporate Relations in charge of the investigation, emphasises that “until the investigation into scientific integrity has been concluded, the presumption of innocence applies.”
Both investigations should be concluded by the summer. ETH Zurich will announce the results as soon as the relevant report and recommendations have been assessed. Until then, no further comment will be made about the ongoing proceedings.
Procedure regarding misconduct
The “Procedure to address allegations of research misconduct at ETH Zurich” gives a definition of research misconduct and sets out a two-stage procedure to deal with it. In the first stage, an ETH trusted intermediary (“confidant”) performs a preliminary evaluation of the circumstances. If this evaluation confirms the suspicions, the second step is to appoint an Investigation Committee composed of internal and external experts, which then submits a report to the Executive Board. Based on these findings, the Executive Board decides on the appropriate procedure and any remedial steps necessary.