April 6, 2013

Official retraction investigation is postponed

In the matter of Prof. Licthenthaler, there are said to be investigations at both WHU (where he did his PhD and habillitation) and Mannheim (where he currently is a chaired professor).

As German academic Phillip Hermanns noted in his essay last month, most of the retracted articles (and thus cause for investigation) occurred at WHU — raising questions about the validity of the PhD and/or habillitation awards. However, it seems as though the Mannheim inquiry has the highest stakes, because it could potentially lead to loss of employment.

In his essay, Doktor Hermanns criticized both universities for saying and doing little (at least publicly) thus far in a case that has been highly visible since last July. He noted that Mannheim’s press department promised a “full investigation” by the end of 2012, but so far nothing has happened.

Two days after Hermanns’ article appeared, Mannheim issued a press release (its second) on the case. Below is my crude translation:

Investigation of allegations of scientific misconduct against Professor Dr. Ulrich Lichtenthaler
Press release from March 28, 2013
Print version (PDF)

On the current process for investigating allegations of scientific misconduct against Dr. Ulrich Lichtenthaler of the Mannheim School of Business Administration, Prof. Dr. Ernst-Ludwig von Thadden, the rector of the University of Mannheim, says:

“The competent Commission of the University of Mannheim has since 24 July 2012 been dealing with the allegations against Prof. Dr. Ulrich Lichtenthaler. The result of investigation was announced [to be ready] at the end of March 2013. The schedule was not fulfilled due to the complexity of the allegations. I assume that the Commission's report will be presented in June at the latest. On basis of the report, the University will make a decision then as soon as possible.

The Commission of inquiry since last year is working hard on the investigation of the facts of the case. It has taken numerous measures with significant use of the time of its members, as well as other scientists of the University of Mannheim to possible violations of scientific standards to determine and evaluate. Among other things, the Commission has commissioned external advisory opinion, interviewed respondents and conducted its own extensive evaluations.

The allegations in the course of the investigation have been very much more complex than the Commission and the university management had assumed in the summer of 2012. Also, the facts are more difficult to assess than was the case with the plagiarism in theses that have engaged the public in recent times.

The University of Mannheim will continue to do everything to clarify the allegations thoroughly and conscientiously. We are aware that the procedure has significant importance for the participants, but also for the confidence of the public in science. That is why a careful examination with reliable results must have priority over a rapid conclusion of the proceedings.”

University of Mannheim
Katja Bär
Press Spokeswoman
Head of Communications and Fundraising
Rector's Office
Im Schloss
68131 Mannheim
Tel. ++49 (0) 621 / 181 - 1013
E-Mail: baer@uni-mannheim.de

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