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The beef report case in brief

In September, the Faculty of Science and Technology took an unusual step: retraction of a DCA report on the environmental impact of beef followed by an internal investigation of reports produced in collaboration with external partners. Here’s a timeline of the events of the beef report case so far.

On 2 September 2019, Science and Technology retracted a report on ‘the climate impact of beef and veal throughout the value chain compared with nutritional aspects of different dietary habits’ after a number of serious irregularities were revealed. Among other defects, the report failed to correctly specify author contributions, which is a breach of the university’s standards for transparent and independent research.

At the same time, the rector and the dean of Science and Technology decided to launch a more general investigation of DCA reports produced in collaboration with private companies and special interest organisations in order to determine whether problems of this kind are more widespread. Of the 55 reports from the last five years that were reviewed, 34 of them contained errors and irregularities.

As a consequence of the investigation, the following measures have been put in place:

  • Their responsibility for ensuring that their employees are familiar with the existing fundamental principles for research integrity and good research communication at Aarhus University has been strongly impressed on the deans and heads of department and school.
  • Courses and workshops on freedom of research and research integrity will be developed.
  • In special cases, it may be necessary to allow external partners to comment on reports. A more transparent process for this will be put in place.
  • Correspondence with external partners will be more easily accessible.

Read the university’s coverage of the beef report case:

15 November: We have to learn from our mistakes

6 November: Aarhus University has always responded to requests to inspect files and documents, and in full compliance with legislation

4 November: DCA: Danish Centre for Food and Agriculture (DCA): Study of five years' reports reveals unsatisfactory situation

9 September: Expanded guidelines for freedom of research at Aarhus University

9 September: Report to Minister for Higher Education and Science Ane Halsboe-Jørgensen (in Danish)

3 September: Follow-up on criticism of report on the climate impact of beef and veal

2 September: Danish Centre for Food and Agriculture recalls beef report

2 September: AU’s rector: We need to get to the bottom of the case of the DCA report

30 August: Vice-dean Kurt Nielsen: We must clarify our guidelines

20 August: Contributions to a more nuanced debate on the climate impact of beef (in Danish)