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Academic integrity

Scientific research has to be reliable and honest. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Amsterdam UMC Location VUmc are responsible for the protection of academic integrity in education, research and social services.

As a scientist, you may be faced with issues involving academic integrity, such as:

“My name was left off a publication I contributed to.”
“We can’t agree on the order of the cited authors.”
“One of my colleagues is using my work without citing me.”
“I have noticed that my colleague is producing sloppy work.”

To protect academic integrity VU Amsterdam and VUmc subscribe to the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity 2018. Moreover, VU Amsterdam and VUmc aim to ensure all academic staff are up to date on their knowledge of the code of conduct as well as recent developments regarding policy on academic integrity.

You will find more information under the headings 'Complaints procedure' and 'Academic integrity policy'. 

Complaints procedure

  • Confidential Counsellor

    If you have any suspicions that a Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam or VUmc academic staff member has violated the academic integrity rules (e.g. through plagiarism or manipulation/fabrication of research data), it is advisable to contact one of the confidential counsellors.

    The confidential counsellor’s role is to advise and/or assist anyone who seeks their support. He/she can discuss the nature and seriousness of the situation with you and advise you on the appropriate course of action. In some cases he/she can explore whether the issue can be resolved through mediation between the parties. The other party can also seek support from one of the other confidential counsellors or from another person of his/her choice.

    Sometimes the confidential counsellor will advise you to submit a formal complaint to the Executive Board of Vrije Universiteit. In this case the Executive Board will refer the complaint to the Academic Integrity Committee (AIC). The AIC procedure is explained under the heading 'Submitting a complaint' (below). The confidential counsellor can help you to submit the complaint in the correct manner.

    Four clusters

    The confidential counsellors are grouped per cluster of faculties (Humanities & Theology, Sciences, Social Sciences, Medicine). To ensure a correct assessment of the situation, it may be advisable to select a confidential counsellor from the cluster to which the complaint relates. However, you are free to select a confidential counsellor from a different cluster if you prefer.

    Humanities cluster

    Faculty of Humanities
    dr. Antske Fokkens
    contact by email: antske.fokkens@vu.nl
    visiting address: Main building, by appointment

    Faculty Religion and Theology 
    prof. dr. Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte
    contact by email: l.j.lietaertpeerbolte@vu.nl
    visiting address: Main building, by appointment

    Sciences cluster

    Faculty of Science
    prof. dr. Herman Verhoef
    contact by email: h.a.verhoef@vu.nl
    visiting address: W&N building, room H-120, appointment required

    dr. Senja Barthel
    contact by email: s.barthel@vu.nl
    visiting address: NU building, appointment required

    Social sciences cluster

    School of Business and Economics
    prof. dr. Johan Wempe
    contact by email: j.f.d.b.wempe2@vu.nl 
    tel: 020-59 89520
    visiting address: Main building, room 9A-64

    Faculty of Law
    mr. dr. Klaas Rozemond (temporarily unavailable) 

    Faculty of Social Sciences
    prof. dr. Marjo de Theije
    contact by email: m.de.theije@vu.nl
    visiting address: Main building, appointment required

    Medicine cluster

    VUmc, Faculty of Medicine
    prof. dr. Frank Snoek
    contact by email: fj.snoek@amsterdamumc.nl
    visiting address: appointment required

    Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences
    Prof. dr. Annemieke van Straten
    contact by email: a.van.straten@vu.nl
    visiting address: appointment required

    ACTA, Faculty of Dentistry
    dr. ir. J. H. Koolstra
    contact by email: j.koolstra@acta.nl
    visiting address: ACTA building, appointment required

    How to contact the Confidential Counsellors:
    In various buildings, the office area can only be accessed with an authorized pass. This means that not all Confidential Counsellors can be visited without an appointment. In this case, you can always call or send an email to make an appointment.

  • Submitting a complaint in case of suspicion of violation academic integrity

    In the event of a suspected violation of academic integrity, you can make use of your right of complaint. Everyone has this right. VU Amsterdam uses a complaints procedure to protect the interests of both persons who file a complaint and the accused.

    The Academic Integrity Complaints Procedure Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam 2022 describes the complaints procedure for academic integrity, which officials play a role in this and what you can expect.

    To submit a complaint, you must provide the data outlined below. This information is necessary for a careful assessment of the admissibility of the complaint and for any further handling. This is in the interest of all parties involved.

    The Executive Board will receive your substantiated complaint and forward it to the VU Academic Integrity Committee for assessment and possible treatment.

    Submitting a complaint

    In any case, state in your complaint:

    • your name, position, address details and an e-mail address;
    • the person or persons against whom your complaint is directed;
    • a precise description of what happened;
    • a reasoned indication of the violation of the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity of the UNL that you believe has taken place as a result.

    You must substantiate your complaint with attachments and/or supporting documents. For example, in the event that you file a complaint about plagiarism, you must provide both the original source and the plagiarized text section in your opinion.

    You can submit your complaint both on paper (with a signature) and by e-mail. Below you will find the correct addressing.

    By letter:

    Marked “confidential”

    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
    Executive Board
    Attn: Rector
    De Boelelaan 1105
    1081 HV AMSTERDAM

    By email:

    Marked “confidential”

    contact-WI@vu.nl

  • Academic Integrity Committee

    The VU Academic Integrity Committee (AIC) deals with the complaint and, after investigating the matter, issues an advisory report to the Executive Board. The Executive Board then makes a decision based on the AIC’s advisory report. Measures are taken if necessary.

    The composition of the AIC is as follows:

    • prof. Jan Struiksma (VU Amsterdam, Faculty of Law), chairman
    • prof. Jan van Mill (emeritus, formerly Faculty of Science, now full professor at University of Amsterdam), member
    • prof. Jon Schilder (VU Amsterdam, Faculty of Law), member
    • prof. dr. Martin den Heijer (VUmc), member
    • prof. dr. Mariëtte van den Hoven (VUmc), member

    The secretary to the AIC is Nathalie Trifkovic (n.trifkovic@vu.nl, +31 (0)6 38 17 07 57). The deputy secretary of the committee is José Kiss (j.m.kiss@vu.nl, 06 42 19 83 73). The composition of the AIC can vary from case to case.

    Annual reports

    The AIC reports on its issued advices by means of an annual report. As of 2019-2020, these reports are published online.

    Annual Report AIC 2019-2020

    Admissibility of the complaint

    After receiving a complaint, the AIC sends all parties confirmation of receipt. For the person who is the subject of the complaint, this is usually the first time he or she hears of the complaint. Next, the AIC assesses the admissibility of the complaint by checking whether all formal requirements of the procedure have been satisfied. If the complaint is not admissible, the AIC advises the Executive Board to declare the complaint inadmissible. The Executive Board notifies the parties involved of this decision.

    If all formal requirements of the procedure have been satisfied, the complaint is admissible and the AIC proceeds to consider the substance of the complaint. Parties are notified of this within four weeks after the confirmation of the receipt.

    Substantive examination of the complaint

    If the substantive examination finds that the complaint is against a publication or other scientific work that was not produced or performed under the responsibility of Vrije Universiteit, the AIC cannot handle the complaint any further and advises the Executive Board to declare the complaint unfounded. In this case, no further investigation is carried out and the parties are not heard by the AIC.

    If the complaint does concern work that was produced or performed under the academic responsibility of the Vrije Universiteit, the AIC proceeds to request all relevant documents and parties are invited for a hearing. A second hearing may be held later in the procedure. The parties receive the reports of each other’s hearings after these have been signed by the person heard and by the committee chairman.

    After completion of the investigation, the parties receive the draft advisory report from the AIC with the request to check this draft for factual inaccuracies. The AIC then issues its final advisory report to the Executive Board. Parties are notified of the Executive Board’s decision and any measures to be taken. The final AIC report is enclosed with this notification.

    Anonymized Publication

    Substantive advisory reports including the accompanying Executive Board decision are posted in anonymized form on the UNL website after the LOWI appeal deadline has expired without an appeal having been made by either party.

    If either party has appealed to the LOWI and the LOWI accepts the appeal for consideration, parties must await the outcome of the LOWI procedure. The LOWI presents its opinion to the Executive Board. Based on this opinion, the Executive Board once again makes a final decision. This decision may differ from the previous decision, but not necessarily. The LOWI posts its opinions in anonymized form on the LOWI website. The AIC’s advisory report, together with a summary of the LOWI’s opinion and the second Executive Board decision, are all posted in anonymized form on the UNL website after completion of the LOWI procedure.

    Frequently asked questions

    Were you unable to find the information you were looking for? View the frequently asked questions about the CWI complaints procedure, or contact CWI secretary mr N. (Nathalie) Trifkovic on 0638170757.

  • Netherlands Board on Research Integrity (LOWI)

    Once the procedure has been completed, the Executive Board sends all parties a letter outlining its decision. If you disagree with the Executive Board’s decision, you can request the opinion of the Netherlands Board on Research Integrity (LOWI). For more information about the LOWI and its rules and procedures, go to www.lowi.nl.

Academic integrity policy

  • Duties of care

    VU Amsterdam and Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc subscribe to the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity 2018, which has been in force since October 2018. This code of conduct defines an educational and normative framework for researchers and students, an assessment framework for institutions and committees when assessing alleged violations of academic integrity, and a number of duties of care for institutions. There are 21 duties of care in total, divided into Training and supervision; Research culture; Data management; Disclosure and dissemination and Ethical standard setting and procedures.

    VU Amsterdam takes its duties of care seriously and is committed to a safe, inclusive and open working environment. Therefore, we are constantly working to provide our scientists with an environment that promotes and ensures good research practices. Below you will find more information on how we do this. For detailed information, read the Advisory note Working Group on the Implementation of Academic Integrity Duty of Care (in Dutch). 

  • Research culture: training, supervision and coordination academic integrity

    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam facilitates scientists at all levels to be aware of applicable standards of good research practice. Hierarchy should not be an obstacle in discussing these standards and holding each other accountable for behaviour. We strive for a safe inclusive and open working culture in which scientific integrity is safeguarded by all staff members.

    Training and supervision

    At VU Amsterdam senior staff and supervisors actively engage with PhD candidates on both dilemmas and responsible and questionable research practices. Training and further education are essential to make academic integrity an integral part of our actions. VU Amsterdam facilitates this, for example, through the training course Supervising PhD candidates (Begeleiden van promovendi; in Dutch), which you will find through the Learning Management System (LMS) 

    PhD Candidate Advisor and other confidential counsellors
    Do you have questions or concerns about your PhD trajectory? Do you need help or advice with a conflict? Are you not feeling well? Are you running into practical problems? There are several places to turn to at the VU. Please visit Help, support and advice for PhD candidates

    Academic integrity coordination

    At all faculties, attention is paid to academic integrity by creating awareness. Through academic integrity coordination, each faculty structures the overview on academic integrity policies and other academic integrity initiatives to be undertaken. Recurring activities are promoted informally and positively through the faculty academic integrity annual agenda. The aim is to have an open dialogue on both questionable and responsible research practices, as well as research standards, dilemmas, and best practices.

    Central academic integrity coordination 

    At central level, academic integrity coordination is vested in the policy advisor for academic integrity, N. (Nathalie) Trifkovic (Administration Office), n.trifkovic@vu.nl. The central academic integrity coordinator organises a university-wide meeting every six months. Depending on what is going on, a specific theme is linked to this. In addition, academic integrity coordinators exchange information through the Academic Integrity Coordination Network on dilemmas, best practices and bottlenecks in support of the tasks arising from academic integrity coordination.

    Faculty academic integrity coordination 

    At faculty level, WI coordination is invested as indicated below. For more information on what academic integrity coordination involves per faculty, contact the relevant academic integrity coordinator: 

    Faculty of Humanities
    prof. dr. Piek Vossen in cooperation with Liesbeth Geudeke
    email: p.t.j.m.vossen@vu.nl
    email: e.geudeke@vu.nl

    Faculty of Religion and Theology
    prof. dr. Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte
    email: l.j.lietaertpeerbolte@vu.nl

    Faculty of Science
    Demet Yazilitas
    email: onderzoek.beta@vu.nl

    School of Business and Economics
    prof. dr. Elco van Burg
    email: elco.van.burg@vu.nl

    Faculty of Law
    mr. dr. Edward Kleemans
    email: e.r.kleemans@vu.nl

    Faculty of Social Sciences
    prof. dr. Jacquelien van Stekelenburg in cooperation with Koen Leuveld
    email: j.van.stekelenburg@vu.nl
    email: k.leuveld@vu.nl

    VUmc, Faculty of Medicine
    Fenneke Blom
    email: f.blom@amsterdamumc.nl

    Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences
    Ravenna Aarnoutse
    email: r.aarnoutse@vu.nl

    ACTA, Academisch Centrum Tandheelkunde Amsterdam
    prof. dr. Frank Lobbezoo
    email: f.lobbezoo@acta.nl

  • Responsible research practices

    Authorship
    This presentation on co-authorship guidelines is integrated into the course on academic integrity for PhD candidates at the Faculty of Science. The Faculty of Social Sciences has articulated guidelines for authorship in Rules for the PhD thesis. To make these negotiable, 'pizza sessions' are organised at that faculty. You will also find guidelines for authorship in chapter 6 of the Amsterdam UMC Research Code. The Amsterdam UMC Research Code also contains guidelines for authorship.

    Plagiagiarism check for PhD candidates
    From 1 September 2022, all PhD candidates at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam can check their research for plagiarism using the iThenticate tool. Read more about the plagiarism check for PhD candidates

    Netherlands Research Integrity Network (NRIN)
    This is an online platform for academic integrity. NRIN works to raise awareness, provides information and facilitates discussion on issues of scientific integrity and responsible research practices. To this end, NRIN organises various meetings several times a year.

    The Embassy of Good Science
    This is a 'Wiki' where the community can share experiences and insights, deepen understanding and continuously contribute to the development of good science.

    SOPs4RI – Promoting excellent research
    A set of user-friendly and standardised procedures and guidelines that research and funding organisations can use to develop their own 'Research Integrity Promotion Plans'.

    Golden rules for supervision (U-Leiden)
    These explicit and official supervision guidelines bring transparency to both PhD candidates and supervisors. This makes it easier for supervisors to focus on their responsibilities, and it encourages PhD candidates to ask for support - if needed. 

    Dilemma Game | Erasmus University Rotterdam (eur.nl)
    The Dilemma Game app is a best practice developed by Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) to promote awareness and open, critical discussion on academic integrity and professionalism in research.

    National Survey on Research Integrity
    The NSRI survey mapped the relationship between research standards and behaviour, responsible science practices, competition and workload. The main findings were translated into implementable, actionable goals for knowledge institutions.

  • Research Data Management

    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is committed to careful handling of research data. You can read all about this on the Research Data Support page. Below you will find additional recommendations as developed by the Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences.

  • Research disclosure and dissemination

    It is important for scientists to communicate their research findings carefully. To this end, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers a number of tools. Besides a page on media training (in Dutch), tips and tricks on how to deal with (social) media (in Dutch) and Publicity for your research (in Dutch), there is also a page on press and science communication.

    Ancillary activities
    On the Ancillary activities page you will find information on ancillary activities, supplemented by the Faculty of Science through the Ancillary activities page.

    It is important that the registration of ancillary activities of our employees is complete and transparent, in order to give students, colleagues and society access to information on their roles and interests. Measures to increase knowledge and awareness among employees and reinforcement of (de-)registration are currently being prepared. For more information, you can contact policy officer for academic integrity J. (José) Kiss (Administration Office, Institutional Affairs), j.m.kiss@vu.nl.

  • Ethical review of research

    All VU Amsterdam researchers are bound by the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity 2018. Researchers have an important moral responsibility to act with respect and care for research participants and to monitor the impact of research on society. To this end, ethical review committees have been set up. These assess the design of research on (among other things) possible harmful consequences, voluntariness of participation, information provision and data protection.

    Ethical review by research area

    How researchers should deal with ethical issues depends on the type of research.

    WMO

    Ethical review is mandatory under the Medical Research Involving Subjects Act (WMO) in medical scientific research involving human participants. VUmc's Medical Ethical Review Committee (in Dutch) is responsible for reviewing medical scientific research.

    Non-WMO
    For non-medical scientific research (non-WMO) involving human participants, VU Amsterdam has several ethical review committees. Below are links to the faculty ethics committees and their contact persons:

    The committees are based on principles as set out in the National Ethical Code for the Social and Behavioural Sciences (Nethics).

    Central consultation on ethical review and additional expertise
    The ethical review committees work together within VU Amsterdam in a central consultation to share expertise. In this, VU Amsterdam provides legal support.

    Chairman: Prof. Dr. René Bekkers, Faculty of Social Sciences (FSW), r.bekkers@vu.nl
    Secretary: drs. Niki Konijn, School of Business and Economics (SBE), n.m.konijn@vu.nl
    Legal support: mr. Hein Breukelaar, Department of Legal Affairs, Institutional Affairs, g.h.breukelaar@vu.nl

    Privacy and protection of personal data
    For this, researchers can contact Mr Tom Paffen, t.h.g.paffen@vu.nl or Mr Martijn de Graaf, m3.de.graaf@vu.nl, Department of Legal Affairs, Institutional Affairs. 

    Questions about ethical review?
    Each faculty has its own rules on ethical review. In case of questions, it is recommended to contact the responsible researcher in the first instance. 

Do you have any questions?

Please contact us.