A court in the Netherlands has fined Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) 7,500 euros to compensate for “immaterial damage” to an economist accused of plagiarism.
Karima Kourtit, a researcher at VU, has been at the receiving end of anonymous complaints to her institution accusing her of plagiarism and her professor, high-profile economist Peter Nijkamp, of duplication (i.e. self-plagiarism). Kourtit is now seeking to prosecute the unnamed source of the complaint for defamation; the VU told us it will no longer accept fully anonymous complaints.
The case began when VU cancelled Kourtit’s thesis defense for plagiarism, and a report published on the VSNU, the Association of Universities, accused Nijkamp of self-plagiarism. Two of Nijkamp’s papers have been retracted as a result of the investigation; Kourtit is an author on one of the retracted papers.
A VU spokesperson told us:
The court concluded that Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam has to pay Dr Kourtit E7500 [around $8,400 USD]…to compensate immaterial damage, because of the publications in the time of her PhD-defense that was cancelled.
Nijkamp was not a part of this procedure.
According to the VU spokesperson, the court found that the VU handled the scientific integrity procedures of the case “correctly,” including the anonymous complaints.
Kourtit’s lawyer told us the court has also ordered the VU to pay material damages, to be estimated in a separate procedure; he said the amount will be a “multiple” of the 7,500 euro figure.
Not everyone at VU has the same views regarding the case. As we reported previously, a commission led by Jaap Zwemmer, then professor emeritus at the University of Amsterdam, found Nijkamp to be guilty of “questionable research practices” after deciding that 61 out of his 260 writings had problems associated with “frequent use.” ...
I'm posting this at the risk of being sued. Yikes.