Vice President of Research resigns at ETH

Another case of scientific fraud has been uncovered, unfortunately at my home university, ETH Zurich.

Quote from the official e-mail: “More than ten years ago, as has just been confirmed by an internal investigation, research data was falsified in a research group then headed by Peter Chen, who is now Vice President Research and Corporate Relations. It would be extremely difficult to find out exactly who manipulated the data.”

As a consequence, Chen steps down as head of research of ETH at the end of the month. He will continue working as a professor.

Apparently, somebody in his group had falsified spectra, which was proven by a repeating pattern in the background noise, as well as by the fact that the results could not be reproduced. The spectra were obtained by “zero-kinetic-energy photoelectron spectroscopy” of hydrocarbon radicals. At the time a doctoral student and a postdoc were involved in the project, however, the lab books and some raw data are missing. The two publication in question were withdrawn. Additionally, the student withdrew his doctoral thesis, but retracted the withdrawal later. As of now, it has not been possible to prove the guilt of a specific person, and all people involved deny falsifying the data.


  1. I’m a bit conflicted on this. It seems a bit much to punish someone when they had a student go rouge.

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