Universiteit Leiden

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Report on transparency in academics and reporting ancillary activities and financing

22 September 2022

Transparency in ancillary activities and financing of scientific research is of vital importance, especially when it comes to external financing. Leiden Law School, as well as the other faculties of Leiden University, is planning to be more active in enforcing the regulations as well as in providing guidance for employees. 

After the media attention generated by the appearance of professor by special appointment Rex Andersen of the Department of Tax Law on Dutch television programme ‘Nieuwsuur’, the Faculty Board has implemented a temporary committee to inventory which mentions the professor has made in his scientific work regarding the financing of his research/chair and to see how they relate to the legal framework – the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity.

The committee clearly states in their report (in Dutch) what the framework is and what improvements need to be made by the professor concerned. Think of mentioning his main position and ancillary activities in each publication and advice on mentioning financing. In the report, precise recommendations and findings are listed per publication. The committee has found nothing to support the possibility that the lack of transparency on financing could have led to the appearance of conflicts of interests or partiality in the scientific output itself. The committee has not found a single indication that the impartiality might have been compromised. 

Dean Joanne van der Leun: ‘the professor concerned will follow up on the advice. But transparency on these items should be improved board-wide. This does not only apply to our own faculty but also to the entire university. It is also a point of attention in other parts of the country. All scientists should really take note of this. The code of conduct has been worded in rather general terms and employees either do not really pay attention to it or interpret it differently, as we have seen for ourselves. As previously mentioned, we have learned from this case. We have taken on board the recommendations of the committee.’

Committee chairman Jaap Zwemmer on the report: ‘Transparency regarding interests is essential for the trust in science. We hope that our report contributes to improving that.‘

The university will pay more attention to the importance of transparency in ancillary activities and financing and the adherence to the regulations by all its employees. Whether tools such as a clear checklist can be helpful for the registration process will also be investigated. 

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