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Fact or Fiction: the human factor


Admission requirements

The student has to have followed the Reflection Course Scientific conduct.
Number of participants: maximum of 20.


Period: Oct 13 -17, 2014

In the course Scientific conduct you have become aware of subjectivity and temptations in scientific research, which is a first step in prevention. You have learned about written and unwritten rules of good scientific conduct and discussed scientific (mis)conduct in your own research environment. In this course we will take another look at this and in particular at scientific misconduct. We will ask ourselves: Why do people deceive or mislead colleagues and fellow scientists? When do facts become fiction? Where does reality end and fiction begins? Can we find an explanation for this behaviour? Can we use models to describe and (maybe) change human behaviour? Is this behaviour typical human? Is it driven by biological, economical, social or psychological factors? You’ll explore some of the intriguing stories of (scientific) fraud and look for the human factor.

Course objectives

The student:

  • will study various models that describe human behaviour and apply these models to examples of (scientific) misconduct

  • will be able to define biological, economical or psychological factors that play a role in (scientific) fraud

  • will try to define his/her personal line between fact and fiction

Mode of instruction

Lectures and work groups.

Assessment method

Assessment of presentation and participation during the discussions, as well as an essay that the student has to write.

Reading list

Will be distributed and/or assigned by the teachers during the course.