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Grey, Black-White, Nijkamp?

Aurora Brief Reviews No. 01 January 8 2019

January 2019

In Science and Public Policy, an interesting study on “Organisational responses to alleged scientific misconduct: Sensemaking, sensegiving, and sensehiding” has been published. The authors have analysed four cases of “questionable research practices”: two each in Norway and the Netherlands, one clear-cut case and one less clear.

The purpose was to analyse and reflect on how the universities involved respond to such accidents. They have made an interesting framework that distinguishes between sense making (what happened and how should we understand this), sense giving (what can we learn from it and how can we do better in future) and sense hiding (let’s try to play it down and focus on controlling and minimising damage for the university.

The article way evoke particular interest at the Vrije Universiteit as one of the cases involved a highly prominent VU researcher Peter Nijkamp (named in the article). In that specific case, VU installed no less than 4 ad hoc committees, but could not prevent that the national committee for research integrity found fault with most of the conclusions of the VU committees – much more in favour of the prominent VU researcher. So a case in point of the study’s conclusion that universities tend to focus rather more on damage control than on future prevention and employer’s responsibility. An interesting article, although it should have been edited by someone a bit more proficient in English.

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