The external integrity commission, made up of professors Marc Loth (Tilburg University) and Ton Hol (Utrecht University), spent a number of months assessing whether Van den Boom had committed plagiarism in orations held as rector magnificus of UvA and in her dissertation. The commission concluded that while there is ‘[a pattern of] inadequacies in source citations and sloppiness when it comes to referring to other people’s intellectual work’, Van den Boom has not committed plagiarism since she ‘did not attempt to pass off other people’s insights as her own’.

UvA has decided to remove Van den Boom’s orations from its website. The university has asked the former rector to add “missing citations and the associated quotation marks” so the orations can be reposted. Van den Boom is free to request a second opinion from the Netherlands Board on Research Integrity (LOWI) within the next six weeks. The university will issue its definite decision on the matter after this period.


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Commission does not find plagiarism in Van den Boom’s work

Sloppy, perhaps – but hardly plagiarism. This was concluded by a commission of inquiry…


The commission’s ruling has created some uncertainty regarding the definition of plagiarism. According to the current plagiarism guidelines for students – including students at Erasmus University – the individual’s motives for copy-pasting are irrelevant: taking over passages from other people’s work without citing the source and using quotation marks is considered plagiarism, regardless of whether you pass these words off as your own. That is why UvA has reiterated that the existing plagiarism guidelines for students continue to apply unaltered.

EUR’s Executive Board previously refrained to respond to Roel Pieterman’s call to distance itself from the ruling. The former member of the ESL Examination Board expects student will refer to the commission’s statement in cases where they are accused of plagiarism, and these cases will become more difficult to establish. According to Gijs van Oenen, Chair of the ESPhil Examination Board, it is unlikely that this ruling will create new obstacles in assessing student plagiarism.

Email investigation

Several days after Van den Boom had stepped down as interim dean of Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC), an article published in NRC Handelsblad accused her of plagiarism in her ‘dies’ orations as UvA rector and in her dissertation. This was soon suspected to be a settling of scores by ESHCC staff members who disagreed with the plans Van den Boom had drawn up for the faculty’s future. The Executive Board ordered an outside firm to investigate the mailboxes of 22 staff members, but was unable to locate the source for the article in NRC. Last week the Board apologised for ordering this investigation.


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Plagiarism and investigation at the ESHCC

How a plagiarism case at the ESHCC led to a 'sick culture' and an e-mail investigation…