Leiden Law Blog

On Academic Integrity

On Academic Integrity Photo: De bedreigde zwaan, Jan Asselijn (1650), Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

Last week I had a meeting with 30 PhD candidates, on academic integrity. I asked them: Who is Ingrid Tieken? Only one had noticed she is the newly  appointed counsellor on academic integrity at Leiden University. None of them had ever read The Netherlands Code of Conduct for Scientific Practice (2004/2012), although it is referred to every month in the Leiden Law School PhD newsletter. On the one hand this doesn’t worry me too much, for my young colleagues turn out to have a good sense of what academic integrity is about. And, more importantly, they know what to do, once they experience the contrary. On the other hand, one should not take the rules and principles of academic integrity for granted. Common sense, important as it is, may not always suffice when one is confronted with a real case of dishonesty. In practice, questions concerning academic integrity do not always present themselves in a unequivocal way, and they may raise thorny dilemmas.

The importance of a trusted colleague, or Ingrid Tieken

Recently, the Dutch academic community has been confronted with a series of incidents involving plagiarism or the fabrication of research data. During the meeting with PhD candidates we wondered: what would you have done if it had been you who had discovered signs of plagiarism in the work of a colleague? Only two replies suffice: (1) Go to a trusted colleague and share your concerns, or (2) go to Ingrid Tieken, and share your concerns. Together, you will figure out what should be done with a view to academic integrity. And what would you do, in the event  your own work is questioned, either by yourself or somebody else? Again, go to a trusted colleague or Ingrid Tieken. In cases regarding yourself, you and yourself are not very good counsellors.

Share your concerns and doubts

Sharing concerns and doubts is not mentioned in The Netherlands Code of Conduct for Scientific Practice. It should be.

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