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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Retractions arrive in plagiarism scandal involving economist Nijkamp

with 92 comments

nijkampRetractions have arrived in the case of Peter Nijkamp, a leading Dutch economist accused of duplication and plagiarism. The Review of Economic Analysis has removed two of Nijkamp’s articles for self-plagiarism.

According to the NRC Handelsblad website (courtesy of Google translate):

The affair university economics professor Peter Nijkamp and his PhD student Karima Kourtit has escalated. The editors of the journal Review of Economic Analysis (RoEA) appears to have withdrawn because of self-plagiarism two scientific articles (reuse your own work earlier without acknowledgment), NRC Handelsblad discovered last week at the RoEA website.

The website reports that “significant parts” of the reclusive articles have appeared in other publications Nijkamp and Nijkamp / Kourtit, without reference orderlyearlier. It involves work Nijkamp alone and work of VU economist Frank Bruinsma with Nijkamp and Kourtit.

Here’s one notice from the Review of Economic Analysis:

The paper “An Agent-Based Decision Support Model for the Development of E-Services in the Tourist Sector “ by Frank Bruinsma, Karima Kourtit and Peter Nijkamp published in vol 2(3), 2010, has been withdrawn by the editors because significant parts of the paper appeared in other publications of the co-authors without proper citation.

And the other:

The paper “Migration Impact Assessment: A Review of Evidence-Based Findings “ by Peter Nijkamp published in vol. 4(2), 2012, has been withdrawn by the editors because significant parts of the paper appeared in other publications of the author without proper citation.

We also found a third retraction of Nijkamp’s work, this one apparently unrelated to the plagiarism investigation. It involves an August 2012 study in the International Regional Science Review (think about that name for a second, and then about why Hawaii has interstate highways) titled “A Schumpeterian Model of Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Regional Economic Growth,” which Nijkamp wrote with Amitrajeet A. Batabyal, of the Rochester Institute of Technology. According to the notice, which requires substantial gymnastics to find:

We regret that a number of corrections were not incorporated in the article. The following represents the corrected version of the article of the same title that was published in the International Regional Science Review 35:339–361. Please refer to this corrected version when citing the article.

Nijkamp’s work is heavily cited. He has an i10-index of 290 since 2009.

Update, 6 p.m. Eastern, 7/3/14: Frank van Kolfschooten reports that the International Regional Science Review paper was retracted because the publishers posted a proof of the study that didn’t include the authors’ corrections:

There were so many that the withdrawal of the entire article was better then publishing separately. Then, the correct version was republished.

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92 Responses

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  1. My economist friends tell me Nijkamp’s work is *not* much cited.

    i10 index: number of publications that have received at least 10 new citations in the last 5 years. I think Google Scholar does not remove self-citations. And like the H-index, this index is really an Age-index.

    http://ideas.repec.org/top/top.person.all.html

    http://ideas.repec.org/top/top.person.alldetail.html

    Richard Gill

    July 2, 2014 at 11:15 am

  2. Highways constructed using Federal dollars make up the Interstate highway system. The Federal Highway Act (1956) predated the years that Alaska and Hawaii became states.

    The Regional Science Association oversees the Peter Nijkamp RSAI Research Encouragement Award for an Early Career. Wonder if it will go through the same problems as the Ken Lay Chair of Economics.

    JustMy2Cents

    July 2, 2014 at 11:22 am

  3. Note that in addition to plagiarism and duplication, Nijkamp has now also been accused of data manipulation. http://retractionwatch.com/2014/01/08/dutch-economist-nijkamp-embroiled-in-plagiarism-and-duplication-scandal/#comment-114446

    lar

    July 2, 2014 at 11:25 am

  4. The homepage of Peter Nijkamp ( http://personal.vu.nl/p.nijkamp/ ) seems to be quite outdated. Since 1 January 2009, Jos Engelen is the president of NWO. The homepage of Peter Nijkamp indicates that Peter still holds this position.

    Klaas van Dijk

    July 2, 2014 at 1:09 pm

  5. The Google scholar profile of Peter Nijkamp lists 2748 publications.

    The PhD thesis of Karima Kourtit lists a large amount of publications (2009-2014, no publications listed before 2009):
    * 33 scientific articles published in journals [including the retracted paper].
    * 13 scientific articles accepted for publication in a journal.
    * 6 scientific articles published as a chaper in a book.
    * 4 scientific articles accepted for publication as a chapter in a book.

    Karima Kourtit has much experience as guest editor of special issues of a journal. Her PhD thesis lists 17 special issues of journals of which Karima Kourtit was one of the guest editors (2011-2014). She is also one of the editors of 4 books (2011-2014).

    The anonymous complainer (see http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill/Onregelmatigheden190614.pdf ) is argueing that Karima Kourtit is unable to write coherent papers. The complaint lists an amazing amount of examples of plagiarism in a large variety of papers of Karima Kourtit.

    The anonymous complainer is a scientist of VU University Amsterdam.

    Page 4 of his complaint lists 15 publications of Peter Nijkamp (8 with Karima Kourtit as one of the authors, 7 with Tüzin Baycan as one of the authors) with allegations of data manipulation.

    Three of these 8 publications of Karima Kourtit and Peter Nijkamp with allegations of data manipulation are chapters of the PhD thesis of Karima Kourtit. The allegations of data manipulation in 15 publications of Peter Nijkamp are part of a new complaint of the anonymous complainer, filed to VU University Amsterdam on 12 June 2014.

    Please note that the Board of VU University of Amsterdam has dismissed this new complaint. So Karima Kourtit got her PhD on 25 June 2014.

    Economist Harrie Verbon of Tilburg University states in recent postings on his blog similar allegations of data manipulation in publications of Karima Kourtit and Peter Nijkamp.

    Karima Kourtit refuses to talk with journalists about her research activities. Karima Kourtit refuses to discuss her findings with other scientists.

    Karima Kourtit does not need to conform to the rule of “The Netherlands Code of Conduct for Scientific Practice” that researchers are obliged to make available raw research data to other scientific practitioners at request (article III.3).

    Klaas van Dijk

    July 4, 2014 at 4:31 am

    • Most of the published books are conference proceedings volumes. They usually contain a number of papers by the editors of the volume. The same small circle of people simply distribute the roles of editor and author of among one another and often take on both roles. So this is simply massive “self-publication”. Subsequent papers obviously have plenty of references to earlier ones.

      It’s a little eco-system which has grown very fat on EU subsidies, good PR, politically correct opinions on immigration etc etc which are scientifically supported, synergy with expensive management advice bureaus (“high performance”) and so on. If you bring a lot of money into your university, you get a lot of influence in academia. If you have a lot of influence in academia, you bring a lot of money into your university.

      Blame the taxpayers and voters who supported the stupid politicians who steered the universities into this evolutionary dead-end.

      Richard Gill

      July 5, 2014 at 3:41 am

  6. Both retraction notes don’t provide insight if any of the authors (Frank Bruinsma, Karima Kourtit and/or Peter Nijkamp) agreed with the decision of the editors of the Review of Economic Analysis to retract both papers. I am wondering why this information is not provided.

    Journalist Frank van Kolfschooten has published on his blog a part of an e-mail which VU economist Erik Verhoef has send to his fellow economists at VU Amsterdam University.

    The e-mail was send in the afternoon of 4 July and is mainly focused on the retraction of the paper with the three authors.

    “Further analysis, or a voluntary declaration of the author(s) in question, should make clear who is responsible for inclusion of re-used texts in the second of these. Because, although all co-authors are responsible for the contents of joint publications, they should of course also be able to trust that text contributions from colleagues deal with referencing in a correct way. It may take time before things will become clear. We express our moral support in advance for co-author(s) for whom it will become clear that they became involved in this without knowing.”

    Please correct me when I am wrong, but it seems to me that VU economist Erik Verhoef is telling his colleagues that Peter Nijkamp and/or Karima Kourtit don’t want to admit that they were responsible for the re-use of texts (= plagiarism) in the co-authored paper.

    Source: http://frankvankolfschooten.nl/wordpress/?p=713

    Klaas van Dijk

    July 5, 2014 at 3:53 am

    • “Karima Kourtit got her PhD on 25 June 2014.” Klaas, can you please provide some public documents that indicate how, and under what circumstances a PhD can be revoked in the Netherlands. It doesn’t matter f she already has her PhD. What is important is if it was obtained based on dishonesty or fraud. And it is important to know the supervisory link between Nijkamp and Kourtit. I don’t seem to find any data-bases that highlight the revocation of PhD theses in science. Any ideas?

      JATdS

      July 5, 2014 at 4:12 am

      • In the Stapel case, the government was queried in parliament about revoking PhDs, and the responsible minster answered as follows, translation and annotations mine:

        “The college of rectors has addressed itself to this question and has made known that this possibility [of revoking a doctorate] is already in existence in cases of scientific misconduct during the promotion [to PhD degree] and that no legislative changes are necessary for this.”

        http://www.rijksoverheid.nl/documenten-en-publicaties/kamerstukken/2013/02/26/kamerbrief-reactie-commissie-levelt-onderzoekspraktijken-sociaal-psycholoog-diederik-stapel.html

        If you are looking for a clear answer on what constitutes scientific misconduct in the context of such a procedure if it were undertaken, you will not find one in Dutch law, and so far as I am aware there are no legal precedents.

        I venture also to add my opinion that I consider it highly improbable that the VU Amsterdam will ever start such a procedure in the case of Nijkamp’s former PhD student Kourtit, because Kourtit’s own contribution to her PhD thesis was rather minimal, and proving misconduct in such a small body of work would be difficult.

        lar

        July 5, 2014 at 8:48 am

        • Utrecht University addresses the question as follows:

          “Withdrawal of the doctoral degree
          Can the doctoral degree be withdrawn if a person does not comply with the aforementioned
          obligations? This is not known ever to have happened in the Netherlands.
          It is, however, possible to have a doctoral degree withdrawn, as is the case with exam results,
          if afterwards it transpires that the degree was conferred on mistaken grounds (fraud,
          plagiarism, etc.). Such instances must involve proven fraudulent behaviour. In practice this will
          rarely be the case as the obligation to involve several experts from the relevant field of science
          involved in the assessment of the thesis provides a proper safeguard against fraudulent
          behaviour.”

          http://www.uu.nl/university/research/EN/phdprogrammes/Regulations/Documents/BijlageEEN.pdf

          lar

          July 5, 2014 at 9:10 am

          • This is an interesting statement from Utrecht: “In practice this will rarely be the case as the obligation to involve several experts from the relevant field of science involved in the assessment of the thesis provides a proper safeguard against fraudulent behaviour.”

            However there is not much evidence for fraudulent behaviour on Kourtit’s part. Behaviour is fraudulent if the person in question is intending to deceive, i.e., it involves malevolence. I am sure that she is quite sincere.

            I do see a lot of evidence that she has not learnt to be a scientist. (Maybe she does not even have it in her to be one – then she should not have been encouraged to submit a PhD thesis). Who is responsible for that? Since every single chapter of both her two theses (except for introduction and conclusion) had previously been published in peer reviewed journals, or in edited conference proceedings, and since every single one had Peter Nijkamp as her co-author, she can hardly be held responsible for the quality of her thesis.

            Since it seems clear that the original thesis should not have been allowed to be defended, we have to conclude that the reading committee failed – but is this their fault? Maybe they were not competent to evaluate the thesis. In that case, who has failed?

            The promotor makes a suggestion. It goes to the dean of the faculty. From the dean of the faculty it goes to the board of PhD exams (chairman: rector of the university).

            Note 1: the original and the new reading committee are essentially identical. The new promotor was a former member of the original reading committee. The new reading committee has even confirmed their original (extremely positive) opinion of the first thesis.

            Note 2: this reading committee includes editors of journals and co-editors of books in which the same papers had already been published; indeed some of the papers have been published in books whose editors consisted of Nijkamp, Kourtit and a member of the reading committees.

            Of course, occasionally mistakes can happen, and in this case even the VU realised that a mistake had been made concerning the first thesis, since the defence was cancelled and the thesis withdrawn, one day before the scheduled date of the exam / ceremony. However it seems that the VU did not realise (or did not want to admit) that the problem was not Kourtit – it was partly Nijkamp and it was partly the reading committee. By letting Kourtit get her PhD degree on this second attempt we see that the problem is now not Kourtit, not Nijkamp, not the reading committee, but the VU.

            The VU will argue that Kourtit should be considered a victim and they were simply “doing the right thing” by letting her get her PhD title. And clearly the new thesis is not that much worse than many other PhD theses these days, so that can indeed be considered to have been “doing the right thing”.

            Richard Gill

            July 5, 2014 at 11:32 am

        • Iar wrote: “I consider it highly improbable that the VU Amsterdam will ever start such a procedure in the case of Nijkamp’s former PhD student Kourtit, because Kourtit’s own contribution to her PhD thesis was rather minimal, and proving misconduct in such a small body of work would be difficult.”

          I tend to disagree with the opinion that Karima Kourtit’s own contribution to het new PhD thesis was rather minimal.

          According to the complainer, Karima Kourtit is very capable in creating a large amount of scientific papers by extensively using the ‘copy/paste technique’. That’s a huge body of (scientific) work.

          Besides that, the 3th complaint filed against Karima Kourtit (and Peter Nijkamp) on 12 June 2014 (see page 75 and 76 at http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill/Onregelmatigheden190614.pdf ) also applies to large-scale plagiarism in the entire scientific work of Karima Kourtit (and Peter Nijkamp).

          Item 1 of this complaint of 12 June 2014 (see page 76) focusses on violations of principle I of the Code (“Scrupulousness: scientific activities are performed scrupulously”; “I.3 Accurate source references serve to ensure that credit is awarded where credit is deserved. This also applies to information gathered via the Internet.”).

          The complainer states very clearly (last part of page 76) that item 1 of this complaint of 12 June 2014 includes irregularities like plagiarism, together with irregularities like omissions and manipulations of vital parts of quoted sources.

          Klaas van Dijk

          July 6, 2014 at 7:02 am

      • JATdS, Iar already has provided you with some documents. Anyone with evidence of dishonesty and/or fraud in parts of the new thesis of Karima Kourtit can file a new complaint at VU University Amsterdam. Such a complaint can even be filed anonymously.

        Quite a few people, including journalists of major newspapers, hold the opinion that Karima Kourtit was a so-called ‘protegee’ of Peter Nijkamp. Please note that the complainer (an economist at VU University Amsterdam) was even not aware that Karima Kourtit was preparing a thesis when he recieved her May 2013 PhD thesis (with in total 15 chapters).

        Please note that the complainer, and a lot of other people as well, hold the opinion that the Board of VU Amsterdam broke various rules when they decided that Karima Kourtit could get her PhD on 25 June 2014. Please note that already a few months ago (a draft of) the 3th complaint of the complainer was send to Karima Kourtit and Peter Nijkamp in order to get comments. Both have never responded and both still insist that they have not broken any rule.

        Please note that the complainer can always go to LOWI (= The National Board for Research Integrity, see http://knaw.nl/en/topics/ethiek/landelijk-orgaan-wetenschappelijke-integriteit-lowi/overzicht?set_language=en ) for an appeal when he does not agree with the findings of the Board of VU University Amsterdam.

        Please note that Kees Schuyt, the chair of LOWI, was present at the party at VU Amsterdam to celebrate that Karima Kourtit got her PhD. This party was only on invitation and Peter Nijkamp was present as well. Journalists of the major newspapers in The Netherlands were not invited. As a rule of thumb, such parties are very informal, at least at the University of Groningen, meaning that anyone can join and that anyone can congratulate the new doctor.

        See http://dare.ubvu.vu.nl/bitstream/handle/1871/51390/complete_dissertation.pdf?sequence=1 for the new thesis of Karima Kourtit. You don’t need to be an economist to read this thesis.

        Klaas van Dijk

        July 5, 2014 at 11:21 am

        • Yes, “anyone with evidence of dishonesty and/or fraud in parts of the new thesis of Karima Kourtit can file a new complaint at VU University Amsterdam. Such a complaint can even be filed anonymously.” The issue is not so much to file a complaint, the challenge is to get the VU to process the complaint, even if this reveals scientific malice of a VU scientist.

          It is my experience that the VU fights tooth and nails to sweep complaints under the carpet. It is about 10 years ago that I filed a complaint about alleged plagiarism against two VU scientists (prof J Treur and FMT Brazier), and I found that the Director of the Division of Mathematics and Computer Science (prof JW Klop), the Dean of the Department of Exact Sciences (prof W Hoogervorst), the chair of the Scientific Council of the department (prof HE Bal) and an ‘independent’ expert (prof JJCh Meyer) scrambled to keep the issue out of all official documents (http://eezacque.blogspot.nl/2012/09/hat-trick-finale.html). Not a single sheet of official VU letterhead was wasted on this, to make sure this case of alleged plagiarism will never smear the official VU track record.

          Izak van Langevelde

          July 6, 2014 at 5:48 am

      • JATdS wrote: “Klaas, can you please provide some public documents that indicate how, and under what circumstances a PhD can be revoked in the Netherlands. It doesn’t matter f she already has her PhD. What is important is if it was obtained based on dishonesty or fraud.”

        Please note that VU Amsterdam University has a (firm) christian denomination. VU was founded by a specific group of christians. Almost all other universities in The Netherlands don’t have any ties with a religious denomination.

        The stipulations for a PhD thesis at VU University Amsterdam state that it is not allowed that the thesis contains anything which is “contra deum aut bonos mores”. See article 15.2 (
        http://www.vu.nl/nl/Images/Promotiereglement-webversie%201-4-2010_tcm9-147637_tcm9-198605.pdf ) (in Dutch).

        See http://wjdw.nl/2012/06/26/speaking-the-truth-modestly-in-invitations/ for some comments on the meaning of this statement for the academic debate.

        The new doctor, dr Karima Kourtit, refuses to talk with anyone about any aspect of her thesis (new and old), and already for a very long time. Also her (former) promotor, Peter Nijkamp, refuses to talk with anyone about this subject, also already for a very long time.

        So no one can ask them some (tough) academic questions about the contents of the retracted thesis and the new thesis, in particular in regard to the statement that a thesis at VU Amsterdam University may not contain anything which is “contra deum aut bonos mores”.

        A detailed ‘post publication peer review’ of chapter 7 of the retracted thesis of Karima Kourtit can be found on page 23-43 in the report of the complainer ( http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill/Onregelmatigheden190614.pdf ).

        A detailed ‘post publication peer review’ of chapter 6 of the retracted thesis of Karima Kourtit can be found on page 12-22 in the report of the complainer.

        I wonder why Karima Kourtit and Peter Nijkamp seem to be unable to hammer down the critics of the complainer on chapter 6 and chapter 7 of the retracted thesis.

        Please note that chapter 7 of the retracted thesis is also publised as a paper in a peer-reviewed journal (Kourtit, K., and Nijkamp, P., 2011, Strategic Choice Analysis by Expert Panels for Migration Impact Assessment, International Journal of Business and Globalisation. 7 (2), 2011, 166-194). The chapter has been removed from the new thesis, the paper is listed in the list with 33 papers (co)-authored by Karima Kourtit (page 189 of her new thesis).

        Please note that the Reading Committee of the retracted thesis of Karima Kourtit has declared twice that there was nothing wrong with this thesis.

        Klaas van Dijk

        July 7, 2014 at 5:23 am

        • In response to “Please note that VU Amsterdam University has a (firm) christian denomination. VU was founded by a specific group of christians.” While the VU was founded by christians in a distant past, I would not say that the VU has a (firm) christian foundation nowadays, neither in its protocols, nor in the life style of its scientists. There are some faint traces left in, for instance, PhD Defence Ceremonies, like the ‘votum’ and ‘zegen’, but for those who look under its skin, it shows no more christian than any other university in The Netherlands.

          Izak van Langevelde

          July 7, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    • I think he is expressing sympathy for a coauthor who found him- or herself in collaboration with a plagiarising author, nothing more.

      lar

      July 5, 2014 at 6:01 am

      • Dear lar, Richard Gill and Klaas, thank you for your comments and weblinks, great insight indeed that allows us to better understand the link between law, the government and academia in the Netherlands. I claim that we should open our eyes more because the Netherlands is a key country with a rich history of publishing, so these concepts, including the retraction of PhDs, should already have a well-established base in this country. Let us not forget that Elsevier and Springer are, I believe, intrinsically Dutch companies, and are the No. 1 and 2 science publishers (in terms of volume (now 12.6 million and 8.5 million articles, respectively). So, there is a strong link between publishers, government, taxes, society and academia. That said, lar stated “It is, however, possible to have a doctoral degree withdrawn, as is the case with exam results, if afterwards it transpires that the degree was conferred on mistaken grounds (fraud, plagiarism, etc.). Such instances must involve proven fraudulent behaviour.” Individuals like me don’t actually care if there is no precedent, or if there has never been such a case. What critics like me like to know is, is there enough evidence to prove that Kourtit has committed plagiarism? Klaas states above, citing other sources, that there are solid claims of data manipulation and plagiarism. OK, if I may be frank, can I please suggest that a Kourtit/Nijkamp critic please make a precise and detailed list of the cases of data manipulation (list 1) and the cases of plagiarism (list 2) and post them here at RW. It appears as if there are quite a few cases, so it would be helpful then to perhaps post a comprehensive analysis, post-publication peer review, that shows things like original text vs plagiarized text, indicating source and plagiarized references clearly, with DOIs and web-pages. If we have a double-listing with clear, factual and comprehensively analyzed data about data manipulation and plagiarism), then who cares if Kourtit stays silent? The evidence will then speak for itself. To be frank, I have had this argument in Japan several times before in which I have found papers co-written by foreign students and Japanese professors that have dubious data, or even have been retracted. Those students and professors have never had to offer any explanation to the Japanese media, to Japanese society, or to anyone. Those students get their PhDs, never have them revoked and never seem to have to respond their failings. I believe culture is irrelevant. If a student is obtaining a PhD, they are aspiring to achieve the highest standards of research and publishing for one simple reason: they are setting the blue-print for the rest of their scientific career. So, if we find that in fact there has been protectionism of Kourtit by Nijkamp, that there has been data manipulation and that there has been plagiarism, then why isn’t this a clear case in Dutch law? If these three factors can be clearly proved, then I believe Kourtit’s PhD should be revoked, as should the PhD of Nijkamp. Nijkamp should also serve a nice prison term and he should also be required to pay back any salaries, funding, travel grants and any other expenses that he received associated with false or fraudulent work. I am tired of seeing this pussy-footed attitude towards scientists that have a proven record of fraud (in whatever form). Time to come down hard, publically, socially, academically and legally. I hope that such lists can be made publically available soon.

        JATdS

        July 5, 2014 at 3:15 pm

        • Dear JATdS,

          Please note that Springer is a German company. Elsevier (formerly Reed / Elsevier) is indeed a Dutch company (a merge of a Dutch company and a UK based company).

          There are (at least) two independent critics who have conducted a detailed analysis of parts of the scientific work of Peter Nijkamp and Karima Kourtit. Both are economists and both critics are online (but only available in Dutch).

          http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill/Onregelmatigheden190614.pdf is a report of in total 78 pages with loads and loads of details on data manipulation and on plagiarism in a variety of scientific papers of both Peter Nijkamp and Karima Kourtit. This report was written by the complainer. Richard Gill has put it online on the website of the University of Leiden. It would be great if volunteers could make a proper translation into English of the whole report.

          http://www.harrieverbon.nl/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/BlogsOverNijkamp.pdf is an entry to various comments of economist Harrie Verbon of Tilburg University. Harrie Verbon has analysed two chapters of the (old) thesis of Karima Kourtit and he plans to analyse more scientific work of Karima Kourtit.

          Please note that Harrie Verbon has very strong opinions about the scientific level of the work of Peter Nijkamp. Some of his opinions:

          (1): the scientific work of Peter Nijkamp suffers from an extremely high level of confirmation bias;
          (2): the scientific work of Peter Nijkamp is loaded with statements which are not supported by any evidence;
          (3): the scientific work of Peter Nijkamp is loaded with unfunded conclusions;
          (4): scientific papers of Peter Nijkamp with empirical results lack alot of details in the section methods (how, where and when the data were collected, what kind of calculations have been carried out, etc, etc.)
          (5): Peter Nijkamp is using wrong models to describe his findings in empirical papers.

          More or less the same kind of conclusions can be found in the report of the anomymous complainer.

          Harrie Verbon does not understand at all why so many (high profile) economists, within The Netherlands, and abroad, are supporting Peter Nijkamp.

          Klaas van Dijk

          July 6, 2014 at 10:10 am

  7. Iar, you are totally right.

    Am I right that VU economist Erik Verhoef is expressing his sympathy for co-author Frank Bruinsma (also an economist at VU Amsterdam University)? Please correct me when I am wrong.

    Klaas van Dijk

    July 5, 2014 at 7:25 am

  8. I am wandering whether the establishment is not actively covering up the dealings of Peter Nijkamp. He had been a powerful figure in the last dozen years eg present in boards allocating research money, nationally and on European level.

    This case made me think of the 1933 case of the Leiden historian Herman Colenbrander who copied 80 pages from an article (reported by Frank van Kolfschoten’s boek unfortunately in Dutch only, http://frankvankolfschooten.nl). This was investigated, and at the end considered a forgivable error.

    All this reporting of retracted papers is hardly chipping away at the underlying lethargy. If, as one of the commentator notices, “the scientific level of this thesis is extremely low”, one of the consequences can also be that dissertations from the Free University in Amsterdam should be viewed with care.

    PJTV

    July 5, 2014 at 9:40 am

  9. PJTV, at least two Dutch economists have concluded that the scientific level of the thesis of Karima Kourtit is extremely low.

    The first one is Harrie Verbon, a full professor at Tilburg University. See http://www.harrieverbon.nl/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/BlogsOverNijkamp.pdf for an overview of all his comments (in Dutch). The second economist is the anonymous complainer, see http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill/Onregelmatigheden190614.pdf (also in Dutch).

    PJTV, the complainer has filed 3 different complaints against Karima Kourtit. The first complaint was filed on 21 May 2013. This complaint contains accusations of plagiarism in parts of her first thesis and also mentions that parts of the thesis has a very low scientific level. A few days later, VU Amsterdam retracted this thesis, one day before Karima Kourtit would get her PhD. The second complaint was filed on 22 November 2013. This complaint contains a long list of accusations of plagiarism in papers of Karima Kourtit and Peter Nijkamp (and others) which were not part of her thesis. A Committee is still investigating this 2nd complaint, so a (provisional) decision has not yet been
    made by the Board of VU Amsterdam.

    The 3th complaint was filed on 12 June 2014. This complaint containts a long lists with accusations of data manipulation in various papers of Karima Kourtit, Peter Nijkamp and Tüzin Baycan. Three of these papers are part of the new thesis of Karima Kourtit. The complaint also contains the accusation that Karima Kourtit and Peter Nijkamp refuse to provide raw research data to the complainer.

    VU seems to have decided that they won’t investigate the accustations of data manipulation in the three chapters of the thesis of Karima Kourtit. VU also seems to have decided that they will investigate the other part of the complaint.

    Within The Netherlands, all decisions of the Board of any of the Dutch universities in regard to such complaints of violations of scientific integrity are provisional.

    Both the accuser and the complainer have the possibility to ask LOWI for an appeal. LOWI = The National Board for Research Integrity, see http://knaw.nl/en/topics/ethiek/landelijk-orgaan-wetenschappelijke-integriteit-lowi/overzicht?set_language=en

    There is a period of 6 weeks in which both the accuser and the complainer can decide if they will ask LOWI for such an appeal. So it is very well possible that the complainer will ask LOWI for an appeal when he is not satisfied with the provisional decision of the Board of VU.

    It should be noted that Kees Schuyt, the chair of LOWI, was present at the party at VU Amsterdam to celebrate that Karima Kourtit got her PhD. It should also be noted that this party was only on invitation. Peter Nijkamp was present at this party as well.

    Journalists of the major newspapers in The Netherlands were not invited at this party. As a rule of thumb, such parties are very informal, anyone can join and anyone can congratulate the new doctor.

    I was wondering if Kees Schuyt will also accept invitations of parties of complainers.

    Klaas van Dijk

    July 5, 2014 at 10:42 am

    • I think that the anonymous complainer will wish to remain anonymous – but one cannot make an anonymous complaint to LOWI. At least LOWI has to know who is complaining. Within the university, possibly even the ombudsman (who receives the complaint from the complainer and possibly sends it on to a scientific integrity committee) does not know who the complainer is.

      Richard Gill

      July 5, 2014 at 11:37 am

      • One might argue that Kees Schuyt (and LOWI) is some sort of judge who must make a good and a scientific solid decision in a problematic scientific problem related to scientific integrity (= the complaint) between two parties: the complainer and the accused.

        Peter Nijkamp and Karima Kourtit are the accused persons and belong to one of the parties. The (anomymous) complainer belongs to the other party.

        It does not really matter if the complainer, the other party, is anonymous or not.

        It does matter that Kees Schuyt must be sure that he cannot be accused to be “very close friends” with one of the parties, so that the other party might feel that there could be something like a ‘undisclosed conflict of interest’ which may influence the decision of Kees Schuyt / LOWI.

        I hereby disclose that I have filed complaints to LOWI. I have quite mixed feelings when I read that Kees Schuyt joined this party of two accused scientists who keep insisting they have done nothing wrong. I can’t imagine myself that Kees Schuyt will ever accept an invitation of me.

        I have noted that many economists at VU University did not join the public defence of the thesis of Karima Kourtit. I have noted that Karima Kourtit and Peter Nijkamp refuse to talk with the press, again and again.

        Klaas van Dijk

        July 5, 2014 at 1:38 pm

        • Klaas, in case your filed complaints are still being handled by LOWI, I’d advice you not to attend any confidential hearing there. I have had a bad experience with LOWI which misrepresented my words, see http://www.keizersenkleren.nl/?p=259 .

          André van Delft

          July 7, 2014 at 11:45 am

  10. The real issue here is still not mentioned, it’s the following:

    Did the journal inform the authors that the papers were retracted (NB they were retracted by the journal not by the authors)?

    Did the authors inform the Free University that the papers were retracted (NB they were retracted before Dr Karima defended her thesis, which lists these papers among her very many publications)?

    Richard Gill

    July 5, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    • Dr. Gill asks whether the journal informed the authors that the papers were retracted.

      http://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2014/07/02/artikelen-van-vu-economen-teruggetrokken-na-zelfplagiaat/

      VU answers in the affirmative (translation mine):

      “The VU notes that the editors of the journal informed the three authors only after NRC Handelsblad questioned RoEA about the retractions.”

      This remark in the article may help to answer Dr. Gill’s second question:

      “The VU does not answer the question whether the promotion [to PhD] last week would have been cancelled if the retractions had been known.”

      From this I think we can infer that Frank van Kolfschooten believes that the VU could not have known about the retractions before the dissertation defence, that is, he himself presumably did not discover the retractions until afterwards. But that assumes that VU are telling the truth, and that the VU was told the truth by the authors, about the sequence of events. In that respect, it seems more than a little dubious that a journal would not inform an article’s authors about a retraction, until prodded by a journalist…

      lar

      July 5, 2014 at 8:23 pm

  11. The defence of the thesis of Karima Kourtit took place on Wednesday 25 June 2014 (17:45 local time, week 26).

    The article of Frank van Kolfschooten in NRC on the retraction of both papers was published on Wednesday 2 July 2014 (12:46 local time, week 27).

    Frank van Kolfschooten states that he / NRC observed ‘last week’ (= week 26) on the website of the journal that that both articles were retracted.

    Frank van Kolfschooten states that VU was asked for comments on both retractions on Thursday 26 June 2014. He also states that VU told him / NRC that all three authors were only informed by the editors of the journal after he / NRC had asked VU for comments on this topic (so on Thursday 26 June 2014).

    Does this imply that both Peter Nijkamp and Karima Kourtit were unable to provide the editors of the journal with their points of view about the allegations of plagiarism of this paper?

    Would anyone at Retraction Watch like to comment on the probability that both Peter Nijkamp and Karima Kourtit were totally never ever informed by the editor of such a journal about an ongoing investigation of allegations of plagiarism of their paper?

    Was Karima Kourtit defending a thesis with a paper in her list with many papers which was retracted? Was Karima Kourtit aware that this was the case?

    Thanks in advance for some imput.

    Klaas van Dijk

    July 5, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    • Klaas, I think the most honest answer to your question in the penultimate paragraph would come from the journals themselves. They would have the responsibility of making all e-mails sent to one (or all) author known publically. Although Nijkamp and Kourtit can defend not receiving the e-mails (e.g., entry into spam folder), or even if they claim that they accidentially threw away or lost, or didn’t read them, provided that the journal can prove that they sent such e-mails, then it’s case closed. Maybe you or someone could call on the journal and its editor to release a copy of the e-mails publically. A simply copy-paste here on RW would serve as a simple, yet perfect, public respository of the evidence. That is one policy I have now adopted in my strategy to expose some of the background conflicts in the plant sciences: by publically exposing them here at RW.

      JATdS

      July 6, 2014 at 12:50 am

      • The retracted thesis of Karima Kourtit (retracted in the end of May 2013) can be downloaded from http://thepostonline.nl/docs/Deel1.pdf and http://thepostonline.nl/docs/Deel2.pdf and http://thepostonline.nl/docs/Deel3.pdf and http://thepostonline.nl/docs/Deel4.pdf

        The documents are a scan of a paper copy of the retracted thesis. Another version is unavailable.

        Harmen Verbruggen, the Dean of the department of Economics of VU University Amsterdam, made bold statements in Ad Valvas (magazine of VU, 1 November 2013). At that day, he told that a Committee of VU had concluded in a (secret) report that this thesis contained ‘shortcomings’, but that these ‘shortcomings’ could be repaired.

        His bold statement (in Dutch): “Op de vraag of het om plagiaat of het vervalsen van gegevens gaat, antwoordt hij dat in zulke gevallen iemand zeker niet de kans had gekregen het proefschrift te verbeteren om het alsnog te kunnen verdedigen.”

        Translated: “Dean Harmen Verbruggen told the compiler of this article in Ad Valvas that the “shortcomings” were not related to data manipulation. These “shortcomings” were also not related to plagiarism. It would have been impossible for Karima Kourtit to defend a revised version of her thesis when this had been the case.”

        Many people in The Netherlands are extremely curious about the contents of the secret report of the (secret) Committee of VU who investigated the first complaint of the complainer. It seems to me that even the complainer and Karima Kourtit/Peter Nijkamp don’t have a copy of this secret report.

        Klaas van Dijk

        July 6, 2014 at 4:40 pm

  12. There may be more to this retraction story than meets the eye.
    On January 7th of this year Frank van Kolfschooten published a large article in NRC Handelsblad(1) in which he claimed that according to the Dutch code of scientific conduct so-called ´self-plagiarism’ (reusing one’s own texts without a reference to the original publication) is a form of plagiarism (stealing the credit for a text or an idea from someone else). As proof of this claim he quoted a passage from a summarized report of the Drenth committee,(2) which had investigated anonymous allegations of plagiarism and self-plagiarism against Mrs. Kourtit, at that time one of Prof. Nijkamps doctoral Ph.D. students. Unfortunately, the summary was somewhat faulty, and to make things worse Van Kolfschootens’s own quote from it was incomplete: one sentence in the middle was left out, without a trace of its having been there.
    During the next week it was pointed out to Van Kolfschooten that neither in the Drenth report, nor in the Dutch code of scientific conduct(3) ‘self-plagiarism’ is equated with plagiarism; neither the term nor the concept of ‘self-plagiarism’ is mentioned anywhere in this code. Prof. Drenth, in NRC Handelsblad of January 11th,(4) even called the notion of self-plagiarism a ‘non-existing concept’. With reference to this case in the beginning of April the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Science published an advisory memorandum ‘Correct Citation Practice’,(5) to which I refer.

    Now to the retraction story. From Van Kolfschooten’s recent article in NRC Handelsblad of July 2nd(6) it appears that Van Kolfschooten at the time of his January 7th article informed the editors of the Review of Economic Analysis – and maybe the editors of some other journals as well – of his version of the ‘self-plagiarism’ story, including, as we may assume, his erroneous claim of ‘self-plagiarism’ being part of the Dutch code. Now we read about the papers by Nijkamp et al. in the Review of Economic Analysis having been retracted. Three questions come to mind:
    1.Did Van Kolfschooten mention the Dutch code in his letter/e-mail to the editors of the Review of Economic Analysis (disclosure of his letter/e-mail would be welcome)?
    2.Did a possible reference by Van Kolfschooten to this code play a role in the editors’ decision to retract Prof. Nijkamp’s papers?
    3.Did Van Kolfschooten inform the editors of the Review of his misinterpretation after this had been pointed out to him? To my knowledge in any case, in NRC Handelsblad it has never been rectified.

    At about the same time as the retractions an item ‘Academic integrity'(7) has been added to the left-hand menu of the Review site. To me this seems to be a strong indication that the editors after Van Kolfschooten’s letter/e-mail began to consider reuse of someone’s own texts without a proper reference as a matter of scientific misconduct. On the other hand in the item ‘Submission Instructions’ the journal has always stated that:

    ‘Submission of the paper is taken to mean that it contains original work that has not been published previously and that it is not considered simultaneously for publication elsewhere. If related work has been submitted elsewhere, the author(s) should provide the editor with details.’

    Whether the now retracted papers contained ‘original work that has not been published previously’, and if so, how much of them is original work, I’m not in a position to assess. But the question how much is original does seem far more important to me than how much is not.

    (1) http://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2014/01/07/onderzoek-nrc-topeconoom-vu-pleegde-meerdere-keren-zelfplagiaat/
    (2) http://www.vsnu.nl/files/documenten/Wetenschapp.integriteit/2013 Beschuldiging van plagiaat.pdf
    (3) http://www.vsnu.nl/files/documenten/Domeinen/Onderzoek/Code_wetenschapsbeoefening_2004_(2012).pdf
    (4) http://www.nrc.nl/handelsblad/van/2014/januari/11/onduidelijke-regels-over-zelfplagiaat-1336705
    (5) https://www.knaw.nl/en/news/news/self-plagiarism-isnt-plagiarism
    (6) http://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2014/07/02/artikelen-van-vu-economen-teruggetrokken-na-zelfplagiaat/
    (7) http://www.rofea.org/index.php?journal=journal&page=pages&op=view&path%5B%5D=academicintegrity

    Marten Hofstede

    July 6, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    • I should be much surprised if a journal paid any attention to what might be considered scientific misconduct in an author’s country. If they did, they would have to do a lot of work studying the many different misconduct regulations from all the countries in which submitters reside, and then attempt to somehow reconcile all of them. That would be possible, but the end result is that a journal would then end up with a code that may be very different to any given author’s country’s regulations.

      I would be similarly surprised if the journal were influenced by Van Kolfschooten’s interpretation of the community standing of self-plagiarising authors. However, I could easily see that they may have been unaware of the self-plagiarism until it was pointed out to them by FvK.

      At any rate, I don’t see why it matters what influence FvK has. Members of the scientific community with doubts about Nijkamp’s self-plagiarism (should there be any) can easily verify the claims for themselves.

      lar

      July 6, 2014 at 5:19 pm

      • ´Members of the scientific community with doubts about Nijkamp’s self-plagiarism (should there be any) can easily verify the claims for themselves.´
        Dependent of course, of how ´self plagiarism´ is defined. That´s what codes of scientific conduct – or in this case guidelines for authors as well – are for.
        In all fairness to Nijkamp c.s., don’t you agree that in cases like this one correct procedure is an important aspect?

        Marten Hofstede

        July 7, 2014 at 4:27 am

        • Yes, I agree that every journal should have a procedure for dealing with misconduct. I also think that the research community at large should try to clearly delineate self-plagiarism from harmless boilerplate copy/pasting.

          See also: http://retractionwatch.com/2013/03/11/how-much-self-plagiarism-aka-duplication-is-too-much/

          The ‘correct citation guide’ published by KNAW, is a completely futile piece of writing on this subject, because its main thesis is that self-plagiarism can never be misconduct. (By extension, making it difficult to add it to a code of conduct.) And it, too, fails to add a clear definition of self-plagiarism.

          It is possible that the Dutch code of conduct will be expanded to include a ban on self-plagiarism in order to keep up with international standards. My own cynical view is that I don’t think this will happen, because there are too many people in positions of power who would find some portion of their salami slices to have fallen foul of such a ban, and they will make sure it doesn’t happen.

          lar

          July 7, 2014 at 5:06 am

        • Marten, I would like to invite you to rebut over here any of the claims of plagiarism in the first complaint of NN filed on 21 May 2013, see page 63-67 in http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill/Onregelmatigheden190614.pdf (and in particular page 63-64).

          I have noted that NN refers to various other sources, see, eg, pag 64, ref [1] – ref [10]). These sources do not list Peter Nijkamp and/or Karima Kourtit as one of the authors.

          Thanks in advance for such a rebuttal.

          Klaas van Dijk

          July 7, 2014 at 1:29 pm

  13. The report of the complainer (see http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill/Onregelmatigheden190614.pdf ) contains an e-mail of 21 May 2013 of AP Hollander, the Ombudsman of VU Amsterdam University (page 65). This e-mail of AP Hollander is a response to the first complaint of the complainer (dated as well 21 May 2013).

    AP Hollander (= VU Amsterdam University) states in this e-mail: “Mogelijk is er in die gevallen sprake van zelf-plagiaat en ook dat hoort niet plaats te vinden in wetenschappelijk werk.”

    Translated: “Maybe some of the cases concern self-plagiarism, but also self-plagiarism is not allowed in scientific work.”

    See also http://frankvankolfschooten.nl/wordpress/?p=661 , a blogpost of 16 April 2014. The statements in English in this blogpost of Frank van Kolfschooten are quotes from an e-mail of Joep Cornelissen, an economist of VU University Amsterdam. Joep Cornelissen is a full professor at VU and he is member of the Board of the Faculty of Economics at VU. This e-mail was send to all other economists at VU.

    This blogpost of Frank van Kolfschooten contains an update of 2 July 2014 (in bold), made after both papers were retracted. This update is a comment of Joep Cornelissen after he became aware that both papers were retracted. The comment is: “(…) dit verbaast mij niets.” Translated: “I am not suprized at all that both papers were retracted.

    See also http://frankvankolfschooten.nl/wordpress/?p=681 (comments of people who claim that self-plagiarism has been invented by ‘the media’ and comments of people who claim that self plagiarism does not exist).

    Klaas van Dijk

    July 6, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    • I ‘m not sure if Mr. Van Dijk’s post is a response to my former post, but let me explain anyway.
      Whether ‘self plagiarism’ is allowed or not allowed in scientific work is a matter of opinion. What is not a matter of opinion is whether ‘self plagiarism’ is part of the Dutch code of scientific conduct; it is not. And therefore people like Van Kolfschooten shouldn’t claim it is. That’s my point.
      Klaas (if I may call you so), if you want to see how feeble – no to say misleading – Van Kolfschooten’s defense of his misinterpretation is, read his (and Marcel aan de Brugh´s) ‘Acht vragen over zelfplagiaat’ in NRC Handelsblad of January 18th,(1) esp. question 2 and my comment on that in Vox Magazine (reaction). (2)
      You also can see then which sentence Van Kolfschooten left out when he ‘quoted’ the Drenth report in his article in NRC Handelsblad of January 7th (‘Het verweer … overtuigend.’).(3)

      (1) http://www.nrc.nl/handelsblad/van/2014/januari/18/acht-vragen-over-zelfplagiaat-1338787
      (2) http://www.voxweb.nl/zelfplagiaat/
      (3) http://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2014/01/07/onderzoek-nrc-topeconoom-vu-pleegde-meerdere-keren-zelfplagiaat/

      Marten Hofstede

      July 6, 2014 at 4:27 pm

      • “Whether ‘self plagiarism’ is allowed or not allowed in scientific work is a matter of opinion”? It’s a matter of policy of many journals, that’s it not allowed. But let’s see the word in context. Here’s the whistleblower’s summary of issues with chapter 7 of the first Kourtit thesis (with help from Google Translate):

        • There are indications that the results are fabricated.
        • The study contains substantial amounts of plagiarism.
        • The study quotes or pirates various sources in such a way that in
        Chapter 7 is quite different than stated in the original sources.
        • Study contains many inaccuracies and lack of scientific support.
        • The chapter contains many examples of self-plagiarism of texts that are not
        relevant to the story.
        • Many pieces of text that appear to be derived from non (self) plagiarism are only partly or not at all about the subject
        • Chapter contains large amounts of the same repetition (non) information,
        usually more or less in the same terms.

        The chapter appeared as

        Kourtit, K., and Nijkamp, P. (2011), Strategic Choice Analysis by Expert Panels for Migration Impact Assessment, International Journal of Business and Globalisation. 7 (2), 2011, 166-194.

        This was one of the “worst” chapters of the original thesis, and got left out of the second one. However, it is characteristic.

        Richard Gill

        July 6, 2014 at 11:41 pm

        • Marten, no problem at all to use my first name. My posting was indeed a response.

          You state in your 2nd posting: “What is not a matter of opinion is whether ‘self plagiarism’ is part of the Dutch code of scientific conduct; it is not. And therefore people like Van Kolfschooten shouldn’t claim it is. That’s my point.”

          I disagree with you.

          Item 6 of the preamble of the Code: “The Code describes desirable conduct and is, in this regard, complementary
          to the regulations (…) on how to deal with undesirable conduct.” [ "De code beschrijft gewenst gedrag en is in dat opzicht complementair aan de regelingen (..) over de handelwijze bij ongewenst gedrag."].

          So the Dutch universities have a Code with rules of “desirable conduct”, together with rules of “undesirable conduct”. Both are part of the Code. The list with rules on “undesirable conduct” (= violations of academic integrity = acts or omissions in violation of the Code) is laid down in the “National Model Complaints Procedure Academic Integrity of the joint Dutch universities” ["Landelijk Model Klachtenregeling Wetenschappelijke Integriteit"].

          See http://www.vsnu.nl/files/documenten/Domeinen/Onderzoek/Landelijk_Model_Klachtenregeling_Wetenschappelijke_Integriteit_Universiteit_X.pdf for a version in Dutch. Utrecht University has an English version of this document, see http://www.uu.nl/SiteCollectionDocuments/Corp_UU%20en%20Nieuws/Klachtenregeling%20WI%201%20september%202012_EN%20def.pdf

          Page 6 of the Model (Dutch version) states: “Onder schendingen van de wetenschappelijke integriteit wordt in ieder geval verstaan”. Listed are 8 items. English version: “Violations of academic integrity are understood to include:”.

          The list with 8 items of undesirable conduct is not a limitative list. So Dutch universities have possibilities to expand the list of violations of academic integrity with items which are not listed in any of the both regulations (the Code and the Model).

          I therefore tend to conclude that Dutch universities indeed have the possibility to include selfplagiarism as a violation of academic integrity and to punish scientists who commit selfplagiarism.

          See also Roig, M. 2006 “Avoiding plagiarism, self-plagiarism, and other questionable writing practices: A guide to ethical writing” ( http://www.cse.msu.edu/~alexliu/plagiarism.pdf for some background information.).

          I even have another point of view why I disagree with you. Page 7 of the Model lists two other possibilities that Dutch universities can investigate accustations of selfplagiarism.

          Both item 6 (“the intentional misuse of [...] methods”) and item 7 (“culpable carelessness in carrying out the research”) state that a university has the possibility to let a Committee (with or without external peers) decide whether this is the case or not.

          I fail to understand why accustations of selfplagiarism conducted by Karima Kourtit/Peter Nijkamp in chapter 6 and chapter 7 of the retracted thesis (see
          http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill/Onregelmatigheden190614.pdf for all details) could not be interpreted as “culpable carelessness in carrying out research”.

          I would like to invite you to provide people over here with a detailed rebuttal of all comments of the complainer in regard to his accusations of plagiarism in chapter 7 of the retracted thesis of Karima Kourtit (page 23-43 of the report of the complainer). I also would like to invite you to make a similar rebuttal for chapter 6 of the retracted thesis of Karima Kourtit (page 12-22 of his report).

          Klaas van Dijk

          July 7, 2014 at 3:40 am

          • Thank you, Klaas, for your response to my post. Your attempts to draw allegations of ´self plagiarism´ into the Dutch code of scientific conduct are interesting, but IMHO they fail.

            First, Prof. Drenth, who presided the committee in the (first) Kourtit case, has stated in NRC Handelsblad of January 11th: ‘Dan nog de geldende regels rond zelfcitatie. In Nederland zijn die er niet, zegt Drenth. „De gedragscode van de vereniging van universiteiten rept er niet over.” Wel is er sinds drie jaar een Europese gedragscode.’ (‘In addition, as to the current rules on self citation. In the Netherlands those are absent, according to Drenth. “The code of conduct of the VSNU doesn’t mention it.” What does exist since three years is a European code of conduct.’)(1)

            Second, as to your references to the [cut/paste] “National Model Complaints Procedure Academic Integrity of the joint Dutch universities” ["Landelijk Model Klachtenregeling Wetenschappelijke Integriteit"], thank you for drawing my attention to this. However, although you are right in pointing out that this document leaves some room to universities to formulate their own rules of conduct, as far as I know the Free University, apart from reserving the right to take up anonymous complaints, has so far not made use of this leeway.(2)

            My interest in this case is limited, and I certainly do not wish to repeat the work of the Drenth committee. (In my experience Prof. Drenth definitely is not a person to turn a blind eye to misbehaviour.) Therefore I won’t accept your invitation to a rebuttal of 30 pages of complaints by the anonymous complainant. If anyone should be invited to do this, it is LOWI, the Dutch National Board for Research Integrity.

            (1) http://www.nrc.nl/handelsblad/van/2014/januari/11/onduidelijke-regels-over-zelfplagiaat-1336705. As to the European code of conduct, see par. 3.5 and 4.4. One purpose of this code is that national codes will be adapted to its rules (p. 2).
            (2) http://www.vu.nl/nl/over-de-vu/profiel-en-missie/uitgelicht/integriteit/regels/index.asp.

            Marten Hofstede

            July 7, 2014 at 4:18 pm

            • Pieter Drenth = http://knaw.nl/en/members/members/4050?set_language=en =

              http://www.allea.org/Pages/ALL/4/731.bGFuZz1FTkc.html

              From http://www.allea.org/Content/ALLEA/Statement_ALLEA_Open_Access_2013-11.pdf :

              “ALLEA stressed the need to promote (i) access to scientific publications as soon and as freely as possible (..)”

              Towards my opinion, the secret report of VU Amsterdam with Pieter Drenth as one of the authors / compilers can be classified as a “scientific publication” within the above definition of a scientific publication.

              So why keep a report secret when you belong to ALLEA (the federation of all European Academies)?

              I fail to understand how Pieter Drenth is able to combine both points of view with each other.

              Marten, scientists want to check the entire contents of the secret report. That’s how science is working. Scientists don’t rely on quotes in newspapers about a scientific publication, but scientists rely on the contents of the publication.

              The secret report is unavailable and I keep asking the same question. Why is it not allowed for critics to check the entire contents of this report?

              Klaas van Dijk

              July 7, 2014 at 5:05 pm

              • Klaas, I don’t know why the full Drenth report isn’t published. As far as I can see, publication is not provided for in the “Regeling Bescherming Wetenschappelijke Integriteit”. (1) But since summaries of the reports are anonymized, I can imagine that now that the identity of the defendants has been disclosed, the VU executive board is not exactly keen to subject them to further public humiliation. Maybe they feel that this would be the more unfair as the complainant chose to remain anonymous (see par. 2d1-2 and 6 of the “Regeling Bescherming Wetenschappelijke Integriteit”).
                Investigating complaints of (self)plagiarism and drawing up reports on that definitely is not science. So I don’t think Prof. Drenth as a psychologist can be held accountable for the full report not being published. Nor do I think that reports like the one by the Drenth committee will appear in anyone’s list of scientific publications.
                As far as I can see – but I’m merely a classicist (and surely not a classical scholar) -, the Drenth committee is an internal committee in the sense of the WOB. (If I remember correctly, the difference between an internal and an external committee played a role in an earlier case about disclosure of another report of a committee like the Drenth-one.) That would mean that a WOB-request for disclosure may prove successful.

                (1) http://www.vu.nl/nl/Images/Reg%20Bescherming%20WI%20(Def)%20(4)%20(2)_tcm9-179789.pdf.

                Marten Hofstede

                July 10, 2014 at 4:30 am

                • hi Marten,

                  Thanks once again for your extensive replies. Frank van Kolfschooten states in his recent book (page 14) that there is currently no obligation for universities like the VU to react on a WOB-request (VU is not a public institute, RUG, UU, UvA etc. are public institutes).

                  Good to know that you are a classicist (I am a biologist), as I can understand now that you don’t feel you are qualified to make comments on the contents of the various complaints.

                  I disgree with you that Peter Nijkamp and Karima Kourtit would feel more humilated when the full contents of the Drenth report would be published.

                  The accusations concern problems in (peer-)reviewed papers / a thesis which were published, so anyone could read these papers / thesis.

                  I think you can’t have both sides of a coin: publish a paper / a thesis and don’t allow that a critical review about your papers will be published. That’s not how it works, at least from my point of view.

                  I have another argument why a university in The Netherlands should also investigate any serious complaint which is filed anonymously.

                  The Code, preamble, item 10. (“Deze code verplicht de wetenschapsbeoefenaar niet alleen tot naleving, maar verplicht hem ook al het mogelijke te doen om de naleving ervan in zijn academische omgeving te bevorderen en te handhaven.). English version: “This Code obliges researchers not only to conform but also to actively maintain and promote the rules for integer scientific conduct in his academic circle.”

                  I tend to think that the Board of a university / the Ombudsman can use item 10 of the preambule to argue that maintaining the academic integrity implies that also amonymous complaints need to be investigated to find out if the accusations have ground (so there were indeed violations of the rules).

                  Klaas van Dijk

                  July 10, 2014 at 12:11 pm

            • Marten, thanks alot for your extensive response.

              It is a pity you don’t want to compile a rebuttal of the comments of the complainer. I would like to suggest that this means that you agree with the findings of the complainer. Am I right?

              You wrote: “as far as I know the Free University (..). has so far not made use of this leeway.”.

              It is well possible that the Committee Drenth has made use of this leeway. We simply don’t know because the Committee has produced a secret report. No one is aware of the contents of this secret report.

              Klaas van Dijk

              July 7, 2014 at 5:13 pm

              • Klaas, I neither agree nor disagree with the findings of the complainant. I’m not qualified to do either of those and, as I stated before, my interest in this case is limited.

                Marten Hofstede

                July 10, 2014 at 4:35 am

            • There’s an interesting link to the Free University’s rules and regulations. They are dated 2011 and state that they will be reviewed within two years. The web page you refer to says that there is a national discussion about whether or not anonymous complaints are possible and that the VU has decided to allow them in some cases. The web page also states that the VU subscribes to the *rules and regulations* put down by the Dutch organisation of universities VSNO and to the *principles* laid out in the The European Code of Conduct on Research Integrity (lead author: Pieter Drenth, hon. President ALLEA), 2010.

              Richard Gill

              July 8, 2014 at 3:26 am

              • Sorry, typo and missing text: “VSNO” -> “VSNU and the Dutch Academy of Sciences KNAW”.

                Anyway, my point is that legalistic arguments about whether or not certain questionable research practices have already been mentioned in official documents are very useful for organisations trying to avoid responsibility. In public scientific debate, they are a diversionary tactic.

                Richard Gill

                July 8, 2014 at 3:31 am

                • Richard, nice to meet you.
                  Generally speaking, I’d say that correct procedure in cases of possible scientific misconduct is as important as in science itself. How important that is, you know far better than I do.

                  As to the Free University’s relation to the European Code of Conduct(1), I may draw your attention to the Regeling Bescherming Wetenschappelijke Integriteit VU en VUmc(2), par. 1c2 (p. 2). To me there seems to be a difference between ‘as specified in’ (‘als omschreven in’) and “in line with” (“in lijn met”). This may have to do with the status of the European Code of Conduct in the member countries of ALLEA. See the Foreword to the code:

                  “The Code addresses the proper conduct and principled practice of systematic research in the medical, natural and social sciences and the humanities. It stands as a canon for self-regulation with clear recommendations, and is now on the way to being taken as a reference template for implementation throughout Europe. It is not intended to replace existing national or academic guidelines, but to represent a Europe-wide agreement on a set of principles and priorities for the research community.”

                  All of this may sound legalistic, but one can’t eat one’s cake and have it. E.g. I doubt whether the European Code would allow for an anonymous complaint to be lodged (see for instance p. 16 of the Code, under No detriment). (I’m certainly not suggesting that in this case allegations have been made in bad faith, only that in general with an anonymous complaint it wouldn’t not be possible to decide whether it is or not.)

                  (1) http://www.allea.org/Content/ALLEA/Scientific%20Integrity/A%20European%20Code%20of%20Conduct%20for%20Research%20Integrity_final.10.10.pdf.
                  (2) http://www.vu.nl/nl/Images/Reg%20Bescherming%20WI%20(Def)%20(4)%20(2)_tcm9-179789.pdf

                  Marten Hofstede

                  July 10, 2014 at 6:29 am

        • Within the inbred culture of the VU, scientific misconduct is a matter of opinion, indeed. It is tightly cropped community, with its own rules, protocols and omerta, which has dissociated itself from the mainstream science community, throughout recent decades.

          Izak van Langevelde

          July 7, 2014 at 6:11 am

          • Izak, there are some positive developments at VU since you filed your complaint, ( http://eezacque.blogspot.nl/2012/09/hat-trick-finale.html ), in particular in regard to sheets of official VU letterhead. I disclose that I have recently filed some complaints with accusations of violations of scientific integrity. I am in the possession of three different signed documents of VU Amsterdam University with official VU letterhead (all of them are letters, send to me by surface mail), all referring to these cases, and also with the name of the accused person.

            This does not imply that the accused persons have improved / changed their habits. No way. Both still refuse to provide me with raw research material (the complaints also refer to other violations of scientific integrity).

            Klaas van Dijk

            July 7, 2014 at 7:56 am

            • So, the improvement is most superficial.

              Izak van Langevelde

              July 7, 2014 at 12:49 pm

        • ‘“Whether ‘self plagiarism’ is allowed or not allowed in scientific work is a matter of opinion”? It’s a matter of policy of many journals, that’s it not allowed.’

          You may be right, although my impression is that most publishers don’t allow ‘redundant (or duplicate) publication’, which is not exactly the same as reusing texts of one’s own without a proper reference to a former publication.(1)
          We are now speaking publishers (some of whom urge their authors to include as many references to their journals as possible).(2) As to the scientific community at large, there exists a position statement developed at the 2nd World Conference on Research Integrity, Singapore, July 22-24, 2010.(3) But as long as this is not accepted by the Dutch National Board for Research Integrity (LOWI),(4) the acceptability of ‘self plagiarism’ (and its definition) remains a matter of opinion.

          ‘Here’s the whistleblower’s summary of issues with chapter 7 of the first Kourtit thesis’

          You are now referring to the anonymous informant’s complaint of June 12th. My contribution to this discussion was about a journalist possibly spreading misinformation in January – possibly leading to retractions – about ‘self plagiarism’ being part of the Dutch code of scientific conduct.
          As to the whitleblower’s (and your?) opinion on chapter 7 of the thesis you may well be right. LOWI would be the right instance to judge on that.

          (1) See e.g. COPE’s Retraction guidelines (http://publicationethics.org/files/retraction%20guidelines.pdf).
          (2) See https://www.knaw.nl/shared/resources/actueel/publicaties/pdf/Citationpracticeaccountabilitystatement.pdf.
          (3) http://publicationethics.org/international-standards-editors-and-authors, esp. paragraphs 4.3 and 4.5.
          (4) It is not listed at their site (http://www.knaw.nl/en/topics/ethiek/landelijk-orgaan-wetenschappelijke-integriteit-lowi/overzicht?set_language=en). Cf. Regulations of the National Board of Research Integrity (http://www.knaw.nl/shared/resources/thematisch/bestanden/reglementlowi.pdf), art. 1, Definitions – Principles of Research Integrity.

          Marten Hofstede

          July 7, 2014 at 6:29 am

          • Marten, I’m afraid that university committees for scientific integrity, and national organisations for the same, have interpreted their task as to evaluate accusations of failings of moral integrity of persons. This means of course (a) a high degree of confidentiality, (b) innocent till proven guilty. Now the anonymous whistleblower’s report does not attack the personal (moral) integrity of any particular person. I have no doubt that Karima Kourtit and her PhD supervisor Peter Nijkamp are entirely sincere people who do not intentionally mean to deceive anyone. So there is no question of “scientific fraud” here. The whistleblower was initially concerned about the quality of Kourtit’s thesis. This naturally leads to concerns about the quality of her supervisor’s work, and it also leads to concerns about the quality of the procedure which led to the first thesis being accepted in the first place (even: hailed as a masterpiece by the reading committee). Secondly, when the second thesis is given a “Blitzpromotie” (fast track, secretive) treatment, and the second reading committee is the same as the first – except that one of the members has been promoted to “promotor” and two external heavyweights brought in, all of them with many close scientific concacts to the original “promotor” – then one can begin to have worries about what is going on “higher up” still, ie at the level of the board of the university.

            Anyway, the idea that a US based journal would retract a paper merely because some journalist from Europe comes up with some story that the paper violates some quaint local code of contact, is too ludicrous for words. More likely is that the paper is retracted on many more grounds than just “self-plagiarism” … which merely permits the journal to eject the paper without admitting that it was their own failed refereeing system which got it published in the first place.

            This is called “passing the buck”.

            Richard Gill

            July 7, 2014 at 8:09 am

          • Marten, scientists don’t care two hoots about statements of international or national committees. They think for themselves.

            The committees follow; they don’t lead.

            Richard Gill

            July 7, 2014 at 2:42 pm

  14. Marten wrote: “My contribution to this discussion was about a journalist possibly spreading misinformation in January – possibly leading to retractions – about ‘self plagiarism’ being part of the Dutch code of scientific conduct.”

    I have the strong opinion that Peter Nijkamp and/or Karima Kourtit and/or VU Amsterdam would have sued journalist Frank van Kolfschooten and/or NRC if they had solid ground to accuse them for items like “possibly spreading misinformation” and/or spreading “misleading” information and/or “misinterpretation”.

    One might wonder why Peter Nijkamp and/or Karima Kourtit and/or VU Amsterdam have not filed such a complaint against Frank van Kolfschooten and/or NRC.

    Klaas van Dijk

    July 7, 2014 at 7:29 am

  15. Marten, the central theme in the whole discussion about (self)plagiarism is the bold statement of Harmen Verbruggen in Ad Valvas (magazine of VU, 1 November 2013).

    His bold statement (in Dutch): “Op de vraag of het om plagiaat of het vervalsen van gegevens gaat, antwoordt hij dat in zulke gevallen iemand zeker niet de kans had gekregen het proefschrift te verbeteren om het alsnog te kunnen verdedigen.”

    Translated: “Dean Harmen Verbruggen of the Department of Economics of VU told the compiler of this article in Ad Valvas that the “shortcomings” were not related to data manipulation. These “shortcomings” were also not related to plagiarism. It would have been impossible for Karima Kourtit to defend a revised version of her thesis when this had been the case.”

    So no way Karima Kourtit could ever submit another PhD thesis at VU Amsterdam University when she would have conducted plagiarism and/or data manipulation.

    Karima Kourtit submitted a new PhD thesis and she got her PhD at VU Amsterdam University on 25 June 2014.

    So no way Karima Kourtit had violated any rules of scientific integrity in regard to plagiarism and/or data manipulation during the preparation her (new and old) thesis.

    What’s the contents of the secret report of the first Committee?
    Would you like to know the full contents of this secret report? An awfull lot of people are very curious to know the contents of this secret report?
    What’s the reason why VU Amsterdam University refuses to disclose the contents of this report?

    See http://www.eur.nl/fileadmin/ASSETS/press/2014/maart/Report_Smeesters_follow-up_investigation_committee.final.pdf for a different approach.

    Klaas van Dijk

    July 7, 2014 at 8:19 am

    • Dear Klaas, I have followed your comments and leads with great interest in this story. I am curious to know, why do the authorities seem so hesitant to prosecute Peter Nijkamp? Some more background would be useful.

      JATdS

      July 7, 2014 at 5:31 pm

      • By prosecute do you mean criminal prosection? I’m not sure a crime has been committed. As far as I know, being a mediocre scientist is not a crime. If (deliberate!) fraud could be proved, then prosecution would be possible, but I don’t know if there is any evidence of it. And even then, I doubt the public prosecutors could be pursuaded to allocate their already scarce resources to such a matter. Consider also that in the case of Stapel, the prosecutor settled out of court in exchange for a slap on the wrist (and Stapel’s promise not to apply for unemployment benefits to which he was *not* entititled) even though the case against him was extremely strong.

        If you are asking why the VU Amsterdam has not dealt with Nijkamp more vigorously, then I think the answer is fairly obvious. First, it is important to keep in mind that Nijkamp is one of the most powerful scientists in the Netherlands. Second, the VU does not have a reputation of dealing with misconduct allegations head-on. Finally, only recently have serious misconduct allegations been made public: previous to this, there were only accusations of (possibly accidental) plagiarism and self-plagiarism. And if anything, the discussions here show that the Dutch academic establishment is not ready to accept that self-plagiarism even exists.

        lar

        July 7, 2014 at 8:09 pm

        • I think the evidence for deliberate fraud is perhaps stronger in the articles of Nijkamp and Baycan than in those of Nijkamp and Kourtit. It’s a pity that the report of the anonymous whistleblower has not yet been translated into English. But there is no proof of fraud, and the authors refuse to make the data available. I doubt that Nijkamp actually does any data analysis so if anyone is cheating it could be any of his many co-authors. Anyway: the statistical analyses are generally inappropriate, the data sets are too small, the scientific argument around the analysis is faulty or non-existant … so it hardly makes any difference whether the data is dreamed up or real.

          Richard Gill

          July 8, 2014 at 2:06 am

  16. Jaime, thanks for your friendly comments.

    Some background information (mostly links) about the current status of Peter Nijkamp.

    http://www.vu.nl/en/research/topresearchers-at-vu/university-professors/index.asp

    http://www.vu.nl/en/research/topresearchers-at-vu/nwo-spinoza-prize-winners/index.asp

    http://www.vu.nl/en/research/topresearchers-at-vu/knaw-academy-members/index.asp

    1 June 2002 – 11 December 2008: Chairman of the Governing Board of NWO ( http://www.nwo.nl/en ). [NWO is the most important provider of finance for research in the Netherlands].

    Chair of one of the ERC Advanced grant Committees, see
    http://www.rvo.nl/sites/default/files/bijlagen/ERC%20in%20the%20Spotlight%202011.pdf (read carefully page 12-15).

    A quote at page 15: “Peter Nijkamp’s (..): last piece of advice. “Have others read the proposal time and again. Ask them to shoot as many holes in it as they can.”

    See http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill/Onregelmatigheden190614.pdf for a detailed overview of a peer who did what Peter told him he should do.

    See also http://harrieverbon.blogspot.nl/2014/04/peter-nijkamp-vu-reputatie-verspeeld.html for some comments of another peer who did the same (although this peer is unsure if Peter Nijkamp considers him as a peer).

    I agree with many others that Peter Nijkamp seems to be one of the most powerful scientists in the Netherlands. So
    his status is totally incomparable with the status of people like Jens Förster and Dirk Smeesters (and even Diederik Stapel).

    On top of that, VU University Amsterdam has a very bad track record in regard how they deal with allegations of violations of scientific integrity.

    Klaas van Dijk

    July 8, 2014 at 3:29 am

  17. There is a new blogpost of the journalist Frank van Kolfschooten in which he states that the Board of VU Amsterdam University has violated various times the rules of their own academic integrity complaints procedure in regard to the 3 complaints filed by the complainer, see http://frankvankolfschooten.nl/wordpress/?p=710

    The decision of around 1 November 2013 of the Board of VU on the first complaint, filed on 21 May 2013, was never send to the complainer. This implies as well that the complainer could not go to LOWI for an appeal.

    From
    http://www.vsnu.nl/files/documenten/Wetenschapp.integriteit/2013%20Beschuldiging%20van%20plagiaat.pdf (= a summary of this complaint, in Dutch):

    “5. Oordeel college van bestuur. Het CvB heeft het oordeel en het advies van de commissie in het geheel overgenomen.”

    Translated: “5. Decision of the Board of VU. The decision and the advice of the Committee in its whole is adopted by the Board of VU.”

    Does this quote means that there exists a formal decision of the Board of VU?

    So an official letter from the Board of VU to the complainer, signed by the Rector magnificus, with a date and a number, with a heading with something like ['Besluit CvB VU ten aanzien van uw melding bij Ombudsman Hollander dd 21 mei 2013'], with the decision and and with information that the complainer could send an appeal to LOWI when he could not conform himself to this decision.

    It might be possible that the letter exists, but that it got lost or that is was never send to the complainer.

    It might also be possible that “Decision of the Board of VU” and “in its whole adopted by the Board of VU” means that this decision was only an oral agreement during a formal meeting of the Board of VU.

    The option of the oral agreement is a good argument to be sure that the secret report would never ever become public.

    Not informing the complainer after this (oral) decision was made, is against the rules of the academic integrity complaints procedure of VU. He must be immediately informed by an official letter.

    Klaas van Dijk

    July 8, 2014 at 7:15 am

  18. Jaime wrote: “can you please provide some public documents that indicate how, and under what circumstances a PhD can be revoked in the Netherlands. It doesn’t matter if she already has her PhD. What is important is if it was obtained based on dishonesty or fraud.”

    A PhD [the degree, as well as the thesis] can legally be revoked in The Netherlands when there is proof that parts of the thesis were based on, eg, dishonesty or fraud (eg, data manipulation and/or plagiarism).

    The answer on this question can be found on page 15 of a report of the “Onderwijsinspectie” (Dutch Ministry of Education), see

    http://www.onderwijsinspectie.nl/binaries/content/assets/Actueel_publicaties/2014/toezicht-op-het-stelsel-van-promoties

    The report makes clear that a final decision of the Board of any of the non-religious universities in The Netherlands to give a candidate a PhD, so after the defence of the thesis, is considered as a formal decision according to the Dutch law ["besluit op grond van de AwB, Algemene Wet Bestuursrecht"].

    Such a decision, like any decision of a public institute, can lateron be revoked when it becomes clear that it was taken unjustified (or something like that).

    I am unsure if VU Amsterdam University holds the opinion that their decisions must also be considered as formal decisions according to the Dutch law (Awb), as VU Amsterdam University is not a public institute.

    VU Amsterdam University is a foundation with a christian denomination. Please note that there is no (= 0) difference in funding by the goverment between the public universities and between VU.

    Radboud University Nijmegen is also a foundation (christian denomination).

    Radboud once refused to provide journalist Frank van Kolfschooten with reports / decisions related to violations of scientific integrity. The journalist used the “Wet Openbaarheid Bestuur” [something like Freedom of Information Act] to force Radboud to give him these documents. Radboud refused because they had the opinon that they were not a public institute, and therefore did not need to bother about the “Wet Openbaarheid Bestuur”.

    On the other hand, the regulations of VU clearly state that it is not allowed that the thesis contains anything which is “contra Deum aut bonos mores.”

    The report of the “Onderwijsinspectie” also states that there is no possibility within the Dutch legal system to revoke a PhD [the degree] when there is no relation with the thesis. This is different in Germany (case J.H. Schön).

    Klaas van Dijk

    July 8, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    • The VU’s decision to award a PhD is subject to the Awb, even if the VU is not normally subject to the WOB.

      “het uitreiken van een getuigschrift is een publiekrechtelijke taak (Afdeling Bestuursrechtspraak Raad van State, 19 juli 2006, LJN AY4273, Examencommissie Hogeschool Zuyd II). Het instellingsbestuur van een bijzondere hogeschool of universiteit is in dat opzicht een bestuursorgaan in de zin van artikel 1:1, eerste lid aanhef en onder b, van de Awb.” http://dspace.ou.nl/bitstream/1820/4280/1/kloet.pdf

      We are getting rather deep into legal details, which I’m not sure are relevant at this point…

      lar

      July 8, 2014 at 6:19 pm

      • By the way, it seems to me that it might be possible to submit a request to the VU, based on the Wob, to ask for a copy of all documents relating to the decision to award Kourtit her PhD. At least, it seems worth a try, if anyone is interested.

        lar

        July 8, 2014 at 6:30 pm

        • Iar, thanks for your postings.

          I am sure that a request to VU for a copy of all these documents will be denied by VU. See article 5 of the regulations (https://www.vu.nl/nl/Images/Promotiereglement-webversie%201-4-2010_tcm9-147637_tcm9-198605.pdf ) [duty of confidentiality].

          See also http://www.rug.nl/education/phd-programme/promotieregeling/phd-regulations-2014.pdf

          Page 7: “Article 1.6 Duty of confidentiality.
          Subject to the provisions of Article 2.5 AWB (..) those present at or involved in correspondence about a defence and the matters discussed at or in connection with the non-public meetings referred to in Chapters 6, 7 and 8 (..) and also with regard to the correspondence and the matters discussed in relation to the dispute settlement regulations set out in Chapter 14 of these PhD regulations, have a duty of confidentiality.”

          ————————————–

          Various sources state that there was some sort of “close friendship” between promotor Peter Nijkamp and the PhD student Karima Kourtit (“Karima Kourtit, de protegee van VU-icoon Peter Nijkamp”, Volkskrant 26 June 2014).

          How about Article 6 of the PhD regulations of RUG?

          “Article 3.6 Prohibited relationships. Close family members of the PhD student (to the fourth degree) or other individuals who have a relationship with the PhD student that means that they cannot reasonably be required to pass judgment will not be eligible for appointment as supervisors and co-supervisors.”

          “Artikel 3.6 Niet toegestane relaties. Naaste familieleden van de promovendus (tot in de vierde graad) of andere personen die in zodanige relatie staan tot de promovendus dat van hen in redelijkheid geen oordeel behoort te worden gevergd, komen niet in aanmerking voor het promotorschap of copromotorschap.”

          http://www.rug.nl/education/phd-programme/promotieregeling/promotiereglement-2014.pdf

          Klaas van Dijk

          July 9, 2014 at 3:46 am

          • @Klaas, to answer your last question: that issue is no longer relevant, according to the dean.
            Quote from an article by Frank van Kolfschooten in NRC Handelsblad, 2 November 2013:

            GERUCHTEN OVER LIEFDESRELATIE NIET ONDERZOCHT
            Na het bekend worden van het opschorten van de promotie begon het gerucht te circuleren dat promotor prof. dr. Peter Nijkamp, een vooraanstaand econoom, een liefdesrelatie zou hebben met zijn promovenda. Dit gerucht is volgens (decaan) Verbruggen niet onderzocht door Drenth:

            “Ik grijp direct in als ik hoor dat er een liefdesrelatie bestaat tussen een promotor en een promovenda, maar in dit geval heb ik daarover nooit signalen gekregen uit de faculteit. Het is nu niet meer relevant want Nijkamp is niet langer de promotor.”

            RUMORS ABOUT LOVE RELATIONSHIP NOT EXAMINED
            Following the announcement of the suspension of the promotion rumors began to circulate that supervisor Prof. Peter Nijkamp, a prominent economist, would have had a love relationship with his PhD student. This rumor is according to (Dean) Verbruggen not being investigated by Drenth:

            “I act immediately when I hear that there is a love affair between a doctoral supervisor and a PhD student, but in this case I have never got any signal from the faculty. It is now no longer relevant because Nijkamp is no longer the doctoral supervisor. ”

            http://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2013/11/02/vu-econoom-mag-door-na-opschorten-promotie/

            André van Delft

            July 9, 2014 at 6:22 am

          • The various “sources” you refer to here, Klaas, are only reporting malicious gossip. The same gossip alleges the same relationship between Nijkamp and Baycan. The gossip would be the same independently of whether or not there was any basis to it. So there is no point in repeating it. Anyway all these people are adults and this is about their private lives.

            The fact of the matter is that Kourtit has a Moroccan background and Baycan Turkish; the research is about the benefits of immigration; it is fact-free non-science and it is politically correct. The extreme populist racist and exploit this scandal to the full. These are good reasons *not* to believe the usual gossip which continually bubbles up on the internet fora of populist racist websites.

            They would write it anyway, independently of whether or not it is true (which ought to be irrelevant anyway).

            Richard Gill

            July 9, 2014 at 6:25 am

        • No. WOB applies to government, and not to universities.

          Izak van Langevelde

          July 9, 2014 at 6:16 am

          • This statement is false. The Wob applies to bestuursorganen (governing bodies), which are defined as organizations charged with a “publiekrechtelijke taak” (public service). Because normal universities are “krachtens publiekrecht ingestelde rechtspersonen” (legal persons instituted by law), they are bestuursorganen by definition. Therefore, normal universities are always subject to the Wob. Ref.: art. 2:1 BW; WHW.

            The VU is a special case because it is not instituted by law. Nevertheless the decision of the Raad van State (“State Council”) I quoted two levels up determines the circumstances when even a “special” university (like the VU) acts as a governing body, and is therefore subject to the Wob under those circumstances.

            lar

            July 10, 2014 at 5:36 pm

            • I stand corrected, thanks for explaining this. However, the question whether a university like the VU is subject to WOB, seems to be a matter of legal dispute…

              Izak van Langevelde

              July 11, 2014 at 5:57 am

  19. Jaime, I would like to start with a quote of Richard Gill of 27 June 2014 (copy-pasted from Ad Valvas, http://tinyurl.com/mhtkhy8 ).

    “The primary problem with both old and new thesis is not plagiarism or tacky data manipulation but intellectual level (zero?) and scientific content (zero?). This means that there are problems with the promotor, the procedure (the composition of the reading committee), and possibly the scientific field in question. There are problems with the scientific culture in the field and at the VU. The 1st reading committee was clearly incompetent and the 2nd was multiply interest-conflicted.”

    On 25 February 2014, the first reading committee has send a letter to the Board of VU, see http://tinyurl.com/lky8zb3

    Roger Stough (University Professor, School of Public Policy, George Mason University), Roberta Capello (University Professor, Politecnico di Milano), Andres Rodriguez-Pose (Professor of Economic Geography, London School of Economics) and Mark Partridge (Professor of Geography, Ohio State University) state in this letter:

    * “we all agreed on the quality of her thesis.”
    * “we fully endorse a fast promotion procedure for this promising young scientist.”
    * “there was no solid reason for not assessing her as an independent researcher.”

    * “it is unusual in our academic circles to base decisions on anonymous reproaches.”
    * “[the] complaints were again based on anonymous and non-verified accusations, which were never put down
    in writing.” [See http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill/Onregelmatigheden190614.pdf ].

    The members of the Reading Committee of the second thesis of Karima Kourtit are: Roger Stough, Roberta Capello, Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, Mark Partridge, Wim Hafkamp and Rick van der Ploeg.

    ————
    Please note that the complainer is raising in his first complaint of 21 May 2013 four different issues in regard to this first thesis of Karima Kourtit:

    (1): plagiarism in chapter 7 (at least at 38% of the pages of this chapter) and in chapter 6 (at least 11% of the pages of this chapter, no plagiarism in chapter 4, other chapters not checked on plagiarism. The complainer lists 11 cases of plagiarism from other sources in chapter 7 and 2 cases of plagiarism from other sources in chapter 6. These sources (in total 9 different publications) are listed on page 64 of the complaint).

    (2): chapter 7 and the first part of chapter 6 mainly consist of texts which are copy-pasted from various other publications with Peter Nijkamp as author or with Peter Nijkamp as one of the authors. The complainer argues that he holds the opinion that these copy-pasted parts might not be considered as plagiarism, as Peter Nijkamp is as well an author of both chapter 7 and chapter 6. The complainer adds that he nevertheless has the opinion that such a behaviour is questionable.

    (3): the scientific level of chapter 7 is very poor.
    * the findings are based on opinions of just 13 (random?) people attending a workshop.
    * the chapter has no section with a description of the study design.
    * the uncopied parts mainly contain recapitulated statements of the copy-pasted parts.
    * the uncopied parts contain unfounded conclusions, These conclusions seem not to be justified by the results.

    (4): doubts on the scientific level of the research presented in chapter 6.
    * the sample size is very low (only 24 companies).
    * no information about (the lack of) robustness of the study and no information about the (statistical?) significance of the study.

    ——-
    I am still wondering why all the members of the Reading Committee of the first thesis of Karima Kourtit have written their letter of 25 February 2014.

    Were they aware of the full contents of the complaint of the complainer, filed on 21 May 2013?

    Klaas van Dijk

    July 9, 2014 at 6:08 am

    • Since the complaint was never translated into English, as far as we know, we can be pretty sure that none of the non-Dutch reading committee members ever saw a word of it. At best they got second-hand summaries from their friends the “victims” of the complaint. This is still the situation. The VU apparently prefers to keep things this way. Nijkamp, Kourtit and Baycan apparently prefer it this way. Nobody else is interested.

      Richard Gill

      July 9, 2014 at 6:31 am

      • Interesting that the reading committee could write “[the] complaints were again based on anonymous and non-verified accusations, which were never put down in writing”. Well: they were put down in writing. They are easy to verify. So is the reading committee lying, or have they been misinformed, and if so by whom?

        Richard Gill

        July 10, 2014 at 2:59 am

  20. André, thanks for your valuable comments. Please note that the regulations of RUG don’t state that there must be something like a ‘love relationship’ between the promotor and the PhD student.

    Any very close friendship between promotor PhD student might also raise questions about proper judgements of the promotor. “Protegee” might as well fall within this definition? You are also right that Peter Nijkamp is not anymore the promotor of Karima Kourtit.

    On the other hand, Verbruggen also made bold statements about plagiarism and data manipulation in regard to Karima Kourtit.

    Richard, it is very obvious that Peter Nijkamp, Karima Kourtit and all their allies focus their defence on three idems:

    (1): the complainer is anonymous and one should not bother about anonymous accusations.

    (2): the accustations concern self-plagiarism / self-citation / re-use of own texts (etc.). There are no proper rules for this type of behavour, the term ‘self-plagiarism’ does not exist, there is no problem with this kind of behaviour, etc.

    (3): the accusations were done in malice / people are jealous because Peter Nijkamp / Karima Kourtit have so many publications (etc.).

    So why not focus on the real problem of the thesis of Karima Kourtit?
    And why not focus on the real problems in many of the recent papers of Peter Nijkamp?

    See http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill/Onregelmatigheden190614.pdf

    Amazing that Peter Nijkamp, Karima Kourtit and their allies don’t seem to bother to provide their friends / allies with a proper translation in English of this very detailed report of the complainer. Same with providing them with a proper translation in English of all the comments of Harrie Verbon.

    The “Letter of support for Professor Peter Nijkamp” was also send on 25 February 2014, see http://tinyurl.com/pwyovbm

    Klaas van Dijk

    July 9, 2014 at 7:17 am

  21. On 22 November 2013, the anonymous complainer filed a second complaint to Ombudsman Hollander of VU, see http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill/Onregelmatigheden190614.pdf (page 68).

    He states in this 2nd complaint that it had become clear to him that the investigation of the Committee (leading to the secret report) was limited to irregularities in the retracted thesis of Karima Kourtit, but that it had become clear to him that the investigation was not expanded to publications of Karima Kourtit which were not part of her thesis.

    He therefore had started to read some of these publications. His findings were devasting. The problems listed in his first complaint of 21 May 2013 were also present in those other publications of Karima Kourtit. All those problems were not incidentally, but structural.

    Huge amounts of many of these publications consisted of copy-paste fragments (whole pages, paragraphs, sentences), copy-pasted from various other publications. The method of copy-pasting was similar to the method she had used in her thesis. Often copy-pasted from publications of co-authors, also from publications of other authors. The complainer had detected this misbehaviour in 16 different publications with Karima Kourtit as (co)author.

    The publications are listed and the complainer asks Hollander to start a new investigation on the misbehaviour of Karima Kourtit in her publications which are not part of her retracted thesis.

    —————–

    On 12 February 2014, Ad Valvas ( http://tinyurl.com/kqp66gf ) reports that a second anonymous complaint was filed
    against Karima Kourtit and that a new integrity investigation had been started on publications of Karima Kourtit.

    Ad Valvas qoutes from an angry e-mail Karima Kourtit had send to the Board of VU.

    Kourtit: “De laatst binnengekomen anonieme klacht had wel degelijk betrekking op mijn dissertatie, en wel op vier à vijf hoofdstukken.” Translated: “This new complaint does also refer to my thesis, it focusses around 4-5 chapters of my thesis.”

    Kourtit: “(…) het gaat tegen alle rechtsregels in eenzelfde klacht nog eens te behandelen. Translated: “It’s against all rules of justice to handle the same complaint once again.”

    Kourtit: “Het wordt mij steeds duidelijker dat deze klacht nooit ontvankelijk verklaard had mogen worden, nog afgezien van vele andere fouten in deze klacht.” Translated: “It is becoming more and more obvious that an investigation based on this 2nd complaint should never have been started. Apart from that, there are also many other mistakes in this second complaint.”

    Kourtit: “Hier wreekt zich opnieuw het anonieme karakter van deze klacht, aangezien over deze evidente onwaarheden ook niet gecommuniceerd kan worden”. Translated: “It is a big shame that the complainer is anonymous. In particular because it is not allowed give comments on all these obvious falsities.”

    Kourit: “Ik kan moeilijk begrijpen waarom u manifest aantoonbare onjuistheden in een persbericht vermeldt.” Translated: “I don’t understand at all why you are stating very obvious inaccuracies in a press release.”

    Kourtit urges the Board of VU to correct “‘deze ernstige fout in het persbericht’ ["this severe error in the press release"].

    The press release of VU ( http://tinyurl.com/mbboeyv ): ” (….) Zo heeft de tweede klacht die de VU tegen mevrouw Kourtit in behandeling heeft genomen geen betrekking op haar proefschrift.”

    Translated: “The 2nd [anonymous] complaint filed against Kourtit does not refer to items in her thesis”. See page 68 (and see above) for the text of this 2nd complaint ( http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill/Onregelmatigheden190614.pdf ).

    —————————————————————————–

    On 10 February 2014, Ad Valvas (http://tinyurl.com/kw2oe8e ) reports about an interview of Kees Schuyt, the president of LOWI, with Frank van Kolfschooten and published by the national newspaper NRC.
    Ad Valvas mentions in this report some quotes of Kees Schuyt from the article in NRC.

    Kees Schuyt in NRC (quoted by Ad Valvas): “‘Nu een tweede anonieme klacht van dezelfde klager in behandeling is genomen tegen hetzelfde proefschrift, verwacht elke jurist een toepassing van de ne bis in idem regel, maar kennelijk bestaat die niet in deze procedure.’”

    Translated: “VU received a 2nd complaint from the same complainer and this 2nd complaint refers to the same thesis. VU has started a new integrity investigation based on this 2nd complaint, although any lawyer would expect that VU should use the principle of “ne bis in idem” [ = its not alllowed to handle the same complaint twice]. Apparently, the regulations of VU cannot cope with this important principle.”

    ———————————————————————————

    There are many questions.

    (1): how is it possible that Kees Schuyt, a very distinguished lawyer and currently the president of LOWI, states that the second complaint of the same complainer refers to the retracted thesis of Karima Kourtit?
    * how did he get this information?
    * who has told him this information?
    * are there even (many) more complaints?

    (2): how is it possible that Karima Kourtit states that the second complaint of the same complainer once again refers to her [at that moment] retracted thesis?
    * was she in the possession of this second complaint?
    * are there even (many) more complaints?

    (3): what is the role of Peter Nijkamp?

    (etc.).

    Klaas van Dijk

    July 9, 2014 at 9:31 am

    • Somebody please help me here, because I am realy confused. The RW story states “The Review of Economic Analysis has removed two of Nijkamp’s articles for self-plagiarism.” BUt Klaas has confirmed above that the Dutch Authorities and/or law does not recognize the term “self-plagiarism”, and thus it is not considered to be an academic offense. This journal, published by the RIMINI CENTRE FOR ECONOMIC ANALYSIS IN CANADA, claims, on this page (http://www.rofea.org/index.php?journal=journal&page=pages&op=view&path%5B%5D=academicintegrity): “The Review of Economic Analysis uses specialized software to compare all submissions to existing work. By submitting the paper to the Review of Economic Analysis, the author(s) agree to have the submission checked for plagiarism.” This is clearly not true, otherwise they would have detected any plagiarism BEFORE publication. This suggests that the journal messed up in quality control, but it also suggests that the publisher forced the retraction. Is that legal under Dutch law? In other words, self-plagiarism is not considered to be an academic offense in The Netherlands (at least not officially, or legally), so how could this journal force the authors to retract the paper? What does COPE think about this?

      JATdS

      July 10, 2014 at 12:49 pm

      • I think the authors didn’t do anything. The journal retracted the article.

        There is no law in the Netherlands that prevents a journal from retracting an article for whatever reason they choose, or no reason at all, nevermind a journal based in another country.

        The only application I can see of Dutch law in this matter is a potential complaint of slander or something like that, but I doubt that the affected parties will take any such action, because a) the journal is most likely telling the truth and b) Nijkamp and co-authors have been avoiding publicity as much as possible.

        lar

        July 10, 2014 at 5:14 pm

        • Some people have suggested that Karima Kourtit has got her PhD degree because the Free University was scared they would sued by Kourtit and/or Nijkamp if this didn’t happen. From a legal point if view, that would have been a very interesting case.

          Richard Gill

          July 11, 2014 at 11:36 am

          • The financial risk in a lawsuit in the Netherlands is generally quite low, and I doubt it worries the university, who futhermore employ lawyers that could deal with the issue. So the suggestion that the PhD was awarded out of fear of a lawsuit doesn’t make much sense to me, except possibly as a way of avoiding further publicity.

            From a legal perspective, there might be some merit to a lawsuit against a university that overrules a decision made by a reading committee (and promotion committee). But if they had really wanted to prevent the PhD award, the university (college of deans) could simply have assigned a PhD supervisor that would stand no nonsense, who would then have been entitled to reject the dissertation. A new supervisor was needed anyway because of Nijkamp’s withdrawal.

            lar

            July 12, 2014 at 6:26 am

  22. JATdS wrote “BUt Klaas has confirmed above that the Dutch Authorities and/or law does not recognize the term “self-plagiarism”, and thus it is not considered to be an academic offense. ” Dutch Authorities and Dutch academics are two different animals: if the authorities don’t recognise the term, this does not imply that academics don’t recognise it.

    Izak van Langevelde

    July 10, 2014 at 3:37 pm

  23. Jaime, excuse me very much for the confusion.

    You are right that there exists a recent report of KNAW (Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences) on selfplagiarism. The report can be downloaded from https://www.knaw.nl/nl/actueel/nieuws/zelfplagiaat-is-geen-plagiaat. The report states, ao, that the term ‘selfplagiarism’ cannot be used because it is a ‘contradiction in terms’.

    Many scientists also don’t agree with the findings of this report, partly because its very vague, partly because it does not list all possibilities of selfplagiarism.

    I tend to think that a quote from an e-mail of mid April 2014 of professor Joep Cornelissen, head of Research and member of the Board of the Faculty of Economy of VU University Amsterdam, and send to all other economists at VU, reflects quite well the current situation.

    “My purpose for writing to you now is to emphasize that within the international community, including the economic and management communities to which we belong, self-plagiarism is not a contradiction in terms and is not taken lightly. For example, the code of ethics of the Academy of Management (AoM) requires colleagues to explicitly acknowledge their use of other sources, including their own. Self-plagiarism is in fact an offence for AoM members. (…).

    Most of the top economics and management journals such as American Economic Review, Academy of Management Review and Academy of Management Journal use (self)plagiarism software upon submission, and will take a strong view when a paper matches already published or publicly available material (including your own).”

    Source: a blogpost of journalist Frank van Kolfschooten of 16 April 2014 ( http://frankvankolfschooten.nl/wordpress/ ).

    Please note that Peter Nijkamp holds a different opinon. Peter Nijkamp has written an extensive response on the allergations of Frank van Kolfschooten (published in NRC in January 2014). The response of Peter Nijkamp is in Dutch, see http://tinyurl.com/q8xol6t

    Please note as well that Dutch universities are not a formal part of the government, though the large majority of them are public institutes. All Dutch universities are member of the Association of Dutch Universities (VSNU, see http://www.vsnu.nl/. ) Much of the contacts with the central goverment go via VSNU. KNAW is also not part of the central goverment (its also a public institute).

    Klaas van Dijk

    July 10, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    • Copy-pasting large passages taken from works of yourself with several co-authors into new works with new authors (or with yourself as sole author, e.g. in your PhD thesis), without any proper attribution of the text, may or may not be a violation of scientific integrity on the same scale as fabricating data, but it is not a characteristic of “good scientific practices”.

      Copy-pasting mutually contradicting passages without any indication that the one paragraph contradicts the other is …

      Richard Gill

      July 11, 2014 at 11:44 am

  24. Iar and Izak, Radboud University (Nijmegen, http://www.ru.nl/english/university/history-radboud/foundation/ ) is an example of a non-public university which holds the opinion that they don’t need to fulfil a WOB-request.
    .
    Frank van Kolfschooten states in his book (“Ontspoorde wetenschap”, page 248) that Radboud University refused to give him the report of the Committee of Research Integrity in a case against Roos Vonk ( http://www.ru.nl/@831513/pagina/ ) and that Radboud used their status as a non-public university to deny his WOB-request. Frank van Kolfschooten also notes that this opinion of Radboud might be incorrect, given the general principle of the WOB.

    Klaas van Dijk

    July 12, 2014 at 3:15 am

    • Yes, the prevailing legal view is that special universities generally not not subject to the Wob. I say “generally”, because certain parts of the university’s activities are subject to the Wob. (As noted above, such an activity is awarding a PhD.)

      It is possible that some future development, such as a court decision or a law update will change the legal status of special universities.

      lar

      July 12, 2014 at 7:30 am

  25. Richard Gill wrote: “Some people have suggested that Karima Kourtit has got her PhD degree because the Free University was scared they would sued by Kourtit and/or Nijkamp if this didn’t happen.”
    .
    Please note that in mid 2009 Karima Kourtit and Hogeschool Utrecht have arranged with each other that Hogeschool Utrecht should pay Karima Kourtit a compensation of 20.000 euro. This arrangement was made to get rid of a law suit of accustations of harassments filed by Karima Kourtit against Hogeschool Holland.
    .
    The alleged harassments should have taken place when Karima Kourtit was a student at Hogeschool Utrecht in 1997-2002. Hogeschool Utrecht states that the arrangment does not mean that the accusations were founded. The online sources (see below) state that Karima Kourtit had alot of problems to get her degree at Hogeschool Utrecht.
    .
    During this procedure, Karima Kourtit claimed that she had lost her job as “financieel administratief medewerkster”. She claimed that she needed to live on social security, because psychological problems caused by the harassments at Hogeschool Utrecht made it impossible for her to hold a job.
    .
    Sources: http://www.telegraaf.nl/binnenland/20482937/__Studente_afgekocht_met_22_mille__.html and
    http://www.trajectum.hu.nl/nieuws/schadevergoeding_wegens_intimidatie_studente and http://www.trajectum.hu.nl/afgekochte_hu_studente_in_opspraak and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HU_University_of_Applied_Sciences_Utrecht
    ———————-
    The new thesis of Karima Kourit lists on page 189 (Scientific publications of Karima Kourtit) three peer-reviewed papers in international journals which have 2009 as their year of publication.
    .
    (1): Kourtit, K., Nijkamp, P., and Waal, A. de (2009), Strategic Performance Management and Creative
    Industry, International Journal of Foresight and Innovation Policy, 5 (1-3), 65-82.
    .
    (2): Waal, A.A. de, Kourtit, K., and Nijkamp, P. (2009), The Relationship between the Level of Completeness of a Strategic Performance Management System and Perceived Advantages and Disadvantages, International Journal of Operations and Production Management, 29 (12), 1242-1265.
    .
    (3): Nijkamp, P., Bruinsma, F.R., Kourtit, K., and Leeuwen, E.S. van (2009), Supply of and Demand for e-Services in the Cultural Sector; Combining Top-Down and Bottom-Up Perspectives, International Journal of Sustainable Development, 12 (2/3/4), 290-302.

    Klaas van Dijk

    July 12, 2014 at 8:34 am


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