Plagiarism has been discovered in a dissertation which has been defended at the Erasmus University last fall. The PhD-candidate has been reprimanded and has to revise her dissertation before October 1 to hold on to her doctor’s title. In addition, the university is starting an investigation into all promotions which have been supervised by her supervisor.

The Committee on Scientific Integrity of the EUR, chaired by professor emeritus Hans de Doelder, advised to revoke the doctor’s title of the PhD. The Executive Board decided not to do so, because the plagiarism can only partially be blamed on her because the supervision was insufficient, and because it was not a matter of bad intent but of sloppy handling of sources.

Culpably inadequate

It concerns the dissertation ‘The triple A model for leadership – analysis of becoming and changing the person of the leader’ of an outside PhD candidate of the Rotterdam School of Management, and the promotor was Teun Hardjono, professor Quality Management and Certification. The supervision was ‘insufficient and culpably inadequate’, according to the investigation committee. Specialists from outside the EUR will in the coming months investigate the dissertations which were previously supervised by Hardjono.

The press office has advised the promotor to not respond before the follow-up investigation into the other dissertations has been finished. That should be done in three months by a yet unknown, external party.

Plagiarism check

The PhD candidate is of the opinion that she has done honest research and told the committee that she did not consciously steal ideas from others. Moreover, before she handed in her dissertation, she did a plagiarism check with the software program Turnitin. That produced no evidence of plagiarism. A check like that is, unlike in the cases of master’s theses and written assignments, not part of the standard procedure (yet) in the case of dissertations.

The PhD candidate has, besides, not taken part in the Promoting in Part-Time (PiD) program of the faculty.


The investigation was started following a complaint of sociologist Floor Basten from Nijmegen, last November. She received the dissertation and subsequently came across plagiarism in various places. On her website she writes: “How could this ‘dissertation’ pass the committee? It was a folly to which no praise could be sung.’

Basten does not agree with the decision of the Executive Board to give the PhD candidate a re-examination and to not (immediately) revoke the PhD title. She thinks it’s a ‘strange course of events’ that the Executive Board makes a different call from the investigative committee.

Outside PhD candidates

Basten holds the view that the PhD candidate had her own responsibility in soundly citing the texts of other people in her dissertation. She calls the supervision by the university ‘dumb’ and ‘arrogant’. She thinks it is a bad thing that the involved parties thought they could get away with quality like this.

She herself got promoted as an outside PhD candidate, at a different university, and wrote a book last year about outside promotions. She is not sceptical about the quality of outside candidates and the quality of their supervisors in general.