All about Academic Integrity

It is essential that all universities adhere to the principle of integrity in academic practice. Academic research must enjoy the full trust of other researchers and of society.

All those involved in academic teaching and research within the University share the responsibility for safeguarding the principles of academic integrity. In all their activities, they are expected to observe the fundamental principles of professional academic conduct. Our policy on academic integrity is based on the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Scientific Practice drawn up by the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU; first adopted in 2004, most recently amended on 31 October 2014), see below. Leiden University has its own Regulations on Academic Integrity, which set out the procedures relating to possible complaints about academic integrity, and the role of the Confidential Adviser on Academic Integrity within Leiden University. It is also the responsibility of the faculties and institutes to create a positive and secure working environment where the scope for errors in the search for new discoveries goes hand in hand with reliable reporting of research findings. Honesty is the primary concern.


All bachelor’s and master’s programmes focus attention on the reliable practice of academic research. The training we give our students reflects the specific nature of the individual programmes. Academic integrity – at both university level and faculty level - is an element in the curriculum of the courses offered to PhD candidates.

Academic ceremonies

In his welcome speech at the inaugural lectures of newly appointed professors, the Rector Magnificus expressly reminds them of the principles of the VSNU code. At PhD defence ceremonies, PhD candidates are advised by their supervisor of the obligations towards society and science that are inherent in the title of Doctor.

VSNU Code of Conduct for Scientific Practice

The Netherlands Code of Conduct for Academic Practice sets out the five principles of academic integrity. These principles are strongly endorsed by Leiden University and serve as guidelines for the University and its staff, as referred to in Article 1.7 of the Higher Education and Research Act (WHW). These principles are:

  1. Honesty and scrupulousness
  2. Reliability
  3. Verifiability
  4. Impartiality
  5. Independence

The Netherlands Code of Conduct for Academic Practice was amended by VSNU on 31 October 2014. The main change is the addition of an article relating to self-citation without an indication of the source. A further change is that explicit mention is made of the two most essential principles in academic practice: honesty and responsibility. These and other amendments were prompted by the reports of the committees chaired by Bensing (advisory note on Correct Citations), Algra (report on Confidence in Science) and Schuyt (report on Handling academic research data with care and integrity).   

Leiden University Regulations on Academic Integrity

One of the means of verifying academic integrity is the right to complain in the event of suspected violations of academic integrity by staff members. The right to complain applies to current staff and also to former staff, professors by special appointment and external PhD candidates who are affiliated to Leiden University. This right to complain is set out in the Leiden University Regulations on Academic Integrity. Under the terms of these regulations, the University has also appointed a Confidential Adviser on Academic Integrity and an Academic Integrity Committee.

Regulation on Academic Integrity

Confidential Adviser on Academic Integrity

Prof. I.M. Tieken-Boon van Ostade

Prof. I.M. Tieken-Boon van Ostade

The Confidential Adviser is the first point of contact for questions or circumstances relating to academic integrity and suspected violations by staff of Leiden University. He or she is bound to confidentiality and is independent of the Academic Integrity Committee, which investigates the validity of complaints. The main task of the Confidential Adviser is to give advice and to inform complainants of possible routes and procedures to be followed. The Confidential Adviser, together with the complainant, will assess the nature and seriousness of the suspected violations and explore possible courses of action. In this context, the Confidential Adviser can, if necessary, act as intermediary and attempt to reach an amicable resolution. If this is not possible, he or she will advise the complainant on how to submit a complaint to the University’s Academic Integrity Committee. The complainant can, of course, choose to first discuss his or her questions or concerns with, for example, close colleagues or the Institute Director. In all cases, it is possible to submit a complaint directly to the Academic Integrity Committee if the nature and urgency of the case warrant this.

The Executive Board appointed Professor I.M. Tieken-Boon van Ostade as Confidential Adviser with effect from April 2013 for a period of four years.

You can contact her by telephone: 071-5272163, or by email:

Academic Integrity Committee

The Academic Integrity Committee investigates complaints relating to suspected violations of academic integrity by staff members of Leiden University. The Academic Integrity Committee is made up of professors from all the faculties (with the exception of LUMC, which has its own Academic Integrity Committee. The Leiden University Committee is chaired by Professor J.H. Nieuwenhuis. The deputy chair is Professor E.G.E. van der Wall. The secretary of the Committee is D.H. Mandel, LL.M. of the Legal Affairs department within the Administration and Central Services department. The address of the secretariat is:

Secretariat of the Academic Integrity Committee
Legal Affairs Department
P.O. Box 9500
2300 RA Leiden

Visiting address:
Rapenburg 70
2311 EZ Leiden.

Recommendations of the Committee

Advice no. 2012 - 2
Complaint Judgment on plagiarism
Advice Unfounded (in Dutch)

Advice no. 2012 - 1
Complaint Judgment on plagiarism
Advice Subject should not be admitted to the PhD defence (in Dutch)

Advice no. 2011 - 2
Complaint Statements in contravention of the truth
Advice Not admissible (in Dutch)

Advice no. 2011 - 1
Complaint Undesirable, in the sense of disrespectful, conduct
Advice Not admissible (in Dutch)

Advice no. 2009
Complaint Negative comments
Advice Not admissible (in Dutch)

Advice no. 2006
Complaint Infringing the rules of scientific integrity
Advice Founded / Conditional dismissal on conduct grounds (in Dutch)

Advice no. 2005 - 3
Complaint Abuse of position
Advice Not admissible (in Dutch)

Advice no. 2005 - 2
Complaint Unsubstantiated claims
Advice Not admissible (in Dutch)

Advice no. 2005 - 1
Complaint Use of prior scientific knowledge
Advice Unfounded (in Dutch)

National Board for Research Integrity

Following each investigation, the Academic Integrity Committee makes a recommendation to the Executive Board. The Executive Board formulates its initial decision on the basis of this recommendation. The complainant and defendant(s) have a period of six weeks after receiving the notification from the Executive Board to ask the National Board for Research Integrity (LOWI) to advise on the initial decision of the Executive Board. The LOWI was established by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), VSNU and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). If advice from the LOWI has not been requested within the time limit, the Executive Board will confirm its decision on the complaint.

More information on LOWI (in Dutch):

Last Modified: 02-03-2015