The executive board has called for all Wageningen UR staff to report clearly on we@wur any sideline activities they take on. This is in response to various reports about such activities and conflicts of interests in Dutch universities.
‘We want maximum transparency and visibility when it comes to additional positions held by our staff, to prevent any hint of a conflict of interest,’ states rector Martin Kropff. A major article about enterprising professors appeared in De Groen Amsterdammer recently, suggesting a link between professors’ sidelines, conflicts of interest and the steering of research results. This link was not actually demonstrated. But the investigative journalists did conclude that by no means all professors in the Netherlands declare their additional positions.
So Kropff has called on all Wageningen UR scientists to do exactly that. This appeal follows an earlier decision by the executive board in 2008 to publicize all additional posts held by Wageningen professors. According to the Code of Conduct for Scientific Practice, scientists must publish their sideline activities on the website. The HRM department is working on an easier system of registration.
In recent weeks there has been a lot of interest in the press in sideline activities and the funding of university research. Investigative journalists at Follow the Money, De Onderzoeksredactie (which wrote the article in De Groen Amsterdammer), Yournalism and De Volkskrant approached Wageningen scientists for information about their research financiers and their sideline activities. Staff are free to participate in these kinds of investigations, says the executive board.