On Saturday 6 May, Volkskrant published an article on Saudi universities convincing highly cited scientists to falsely change their primary affiliation in exchange for research funding. The article mentioned the name of Wageningen professor Vincenzo Fogliano. Wageningen University & Research (WUR) immediately started an investigation into this specific case and its entire list of highly cited scientists. Now that the investigation has been completed, the Executive Board has decided to remove Prof. Fogliano from his chairholder position with immediate effect, for a period of 2 years.
The investigation has shown that at least 6 highly cited Wageningen scientists have been approached by Saudi universities to change their primary affiliation. Only Prof. Fogliano accepted that offer. He did so while holding a full-time position at Wageningen University & Research.
Rector: shocked and highly disappointed
Rector Magnificus Arthur Mol: “I am shocked and very disappointed by the results of the investigation. In 2018, Fogliano was warned about these types of transactions. He decided to adjust his affiliation anyway. He acted incorrectly and thereby violated the integrity of science at Wageningen University & Research. That cannot be without consequences. That is why Fogliano is removed from his chairholder position with immediate effect; it is precisely in such a position that he must set an example for others and in particular young scientists. In addition, he received an official warning: a next breach of integrity will result in termination.”
The removal from his chairholder position will be for the duration of 2 years. During that period, Fogliano will remain a regular professor in the Food Quality & Design chair group. The investigation has given no indications Fogliano received personal money in exchange for adjusting his affiliation.
In total, WUR received 146,000 euros from King Saud University. This money was used within the Food Quality & Design group as funding for innovative PhD-research on food quality and composition.
Saudi universities are actively approaching highly cited scientists to adjust their primary affiliation. The primary affiliations feed scientific databases that determine the position of universities in international university rankings. Due to affiliations of highly cited scientists, these universities rise in these kinds of rankings.