Violence, threats, sexual harassment, the withdrawal of research funds… Many scholars all around the world are faced with these issues, the global censuses of Scholars at Risk and other sources indicate.

At the request of Minister Dijkgraaf and UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), Utrecht-based Professor of Law Janneke Gerards compiled more studies, which generally point in the same direction.


“Up to forty percent of scientists researching the climate have received threats”, says Gerards in a press release. “The same goes for scientists who carried out research into COVID-19. These kinds of threats lead to scientists not daring to publish their research, applying self-censorship, or even throwing in the towel altogether. Women scholars and scholars from certain minority groups are particularly at risk in this respect.”

Amongst other things, Minister Dijkgraaf draws attention to the problems in the Netherlands. The news item published by his ministry reads: “Recently the education inspectorate drew firm conclusions about social safety at Delft University of Technology. Safety is essential for scholars in doing their important work.”

Dijkgraaf has called for safety of scientists before. His first public speech was on this topic. “Let’s all stand by the facts so as to protect our scientists”, he said at the time. A few months later, he launched the WetenschapVeilig safety hotline, which helps scholars in need.

Worrying trend

This time he again points out the value of science. “We trust science to separate facts from misinformation and to face major problems such as climate change, inequality and population ageing”, he says in his press release. “And science is an important mainstay for our economy as well. The work scholars do is crucial. The increasing unsafety of scholars is therefore a worrying trend.”

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