University finds misconduct behind plastics study
7 December 2017
Uppsala University has now taken a decision in the misconduct case concerning a study on the consumption of microplastics by fish larvae. The University finds that the two researchers behind the study are guilty of research misconduct due to a lack of ethical approval for animal experimentation. One of the researchers is also found to have fabricated research results.
The article “Environmentally relevant concentrations of microplastic particles influence larval fish ecology” was published in the journal Science in June 2016 and described how fish fry preferred microplastic particles to their natural food. The article received considerable attention in the media. Some time after the publication, other researchers filed a complaint of misconduct against the authors. They alleged that the experiments could not have taken place as described in the article, that the correct ethical approval for animal experimentation had not been obtained and that raw data from the study were missing. The research article was retracted from Science in May 2017.
The case has been investigated and prepared for decision by the Board for Investigation of Misconduct in Research at Uppsala University. Decisions in cases of alleged misconduct are taken by the Vice-Chancellor.
“We take a very serious view of misconduct in research, every such case risks leading to a public loss of confidence in research. At the same time, it is important to be careful in this type of investigation so that innocent people do not suffer ill effects. I welcome the fact that the situation regarding liability has finally been clarified in this case,” says Vice-Chancellor Eva Åkesson.