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'Either He Is Fired, or He Stays'

Recently, Retraction Watch reported that researcher Carsten Carlberg might lose his job at the University of Luxembourg because the university blamed him for misconduct allegedly perpetrated by one of his grad students. It was unclear whether the school would fire Carlberg — even though he himself didn't commit fraud, the institution considered him responsible because he was senior author on two papers that had to be retracted. Retraction Watch's Adam Marcus says the school's vice president, Eric Tschirhart, has sent the blog an official statement that says the dismissal process won't be concluded until early July. "Depending of the final position of board of governors, either he is fired, or he stays," Tschirhart says.

The university has made two main allegations against Carlberg. The first is that some of his other publications are now under suspicion, and the second is that "he mishandled his lab egregiously," Marcus says. Surprisingly, the university has no evidence related to the allegedly tainted papers because that work was not performed at the school. "As for the second charge, Tschirhart said 'the issue on this is very simple: Carlberg was more acting as a reviewer of figures, text, manuscripts' rather than as an engaged lab head," Marcus says. "[Tschirhart] also said that all but two people (presumably including Carlberg himself) fled the lab in the wake of the retractions and as a direct result of the discredited papers." The University of Luxembourg has no plans to consult with the University of Eastern Finland, where Carlberg spends half of his time — a decision Marcus finds "puzzling" considering that the grad student in question, Tatjana Degenhardt, worked there, not Luxembourg. He speculates, "What we do know is that the statement from the university regarding Carlberg’s activities contains allegations that may or may not be grounds for dismissal — but would certainly be sufficient cause for indignant resignation. Which, in the end, could be the objective."