Complaint about Nijkamp, Kourtit and Baycan-Levent’s research data unfounded

An investigative committee consisting of scientists Jan Struiksma, Jan van Mill and Guy Widdershoven has investigated an anonymous complaint regarding data acquisition and data processing in research conducted by Peter Nijkamp and Karima Kourtit and by Peter Nijkamp and Tüzin Baycan-Levent. After carefully examining all the facts, the committee has concluded in its final report that all parts of the complaint are deemed invalid. VU Amsterdam’s Executive Board has decided to wholly support the findings of the investigative committee and is satisfied that there has been no violation of scientific integrity by the above-mentioned former VU Amsterdam employees.

01/13/2016 | 8:17 AM

On 12 June 2014, the VU Ombudsman for Scientific Integrity received an anonymous complaint regarding data acquisition and data processing in research conducted by Peter Nijkamp, Karima Kourtit and Tüzin Baycan-Levent. The Executive Board ruled that the complaint was sufficiently detailed and substantiated and the accusations made could not be ruled unfounded upon receipt of the complaint. The complaint could be investigated without further cooperation of the anonymous complainant.

For Nijkamp and Kourtit, this is the third time a complaint has been lodged against them. The university’s Rector Magnificus, Professor Vinod Subramaniam, states, “Because the complaints were always sufficiently specific, the Executive Board was forced to conclude that these complaints had to be investigated. The Executive Board also believes that the matter has been fully investigated and no further anonymous complaints against the above-mentioned individuals will be considered.

The Executive Board regrets the fact that the complainant preferred to remain anonymous, thereby foregoing any active involvement in discussions and investigations, specifically with regard to the motive behind the complaints. However, the complainant is well within his rights to do so under the auspices of the complaints procedure. This procedure does not state that the complainant may seek publicity anonymously; something that occurred multiple times in this case. In seeking publicity anonymously, the complainant avoids any judgement of their own actions and also interferes with a very thorough and careful procedure. The Executive Board cannot take a position on the matter until the investigation is complete and as such cannot choose to defend the respondents until such time. The media may wrongly assume that a complaint is declared valid before the investigation is actually complete.

Publications from Kourtit’s thesis did not form part of the investigation, since they had previously been scrutinized by the relevant thesis committee and no irregularities were encountered. The Academic Integrity Committee excluded plagiarism from its deliberations, as that aspect of the complaint overlapped with a prior investigation conducted by a committee under the chairmanship of Professor Zwemmer. In this case, the Executive Board and the persons involved in the investigation jointly decided to publish the full report, to ensure optimal transparency in this matter.

Find the final report here. 

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