Academy booklet on risks associated with international scientific cooperation

17 December 2014

The booklet is intended to offer Dutch institutions and individual researchers various guidelines for assessing the potential risks of cooperating with researchers in other parts of the world.

On 17 December 2014, Academy President Hans Clevers presented the booklet International Scientific Cooperation to Kees van Beer, Human Rights Ambassador for the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Questionable regimes

Science increasingly depends on international cooperation. Alongside the undisputed advantages of international scientific cooperation, however, there are also potential pitfalls. The booklet International Scientific Cooperation was published at the initiative of the Academy, which notes many troublesome issues with respect to cooperation in this area. Examples include the admission of students from countries with questionable regimes, sharing scientific knowledge that could be misused, or collaborating with researchers whose scientific agenda may be dictated by the state.

Without denying the immense importance of international scientific contacts, the Academy advocates vigilance when embarking on such cooperation. It is not only researchers who bear responsibility in this respect, but also the institutions that employ them and, in some cases, even supranational organisations. A good example is the Iran Sanctions Regulations, which address security matters in sensitive areas of research without refusing Iranian students access to Dutch universities (as was previously the case).

Analytical framework

The booklet provides an analytical framework for assessing potential risks that guides users through the complexity of risk levels and gradations. With various parties, including the Academy, planning to completely overhaul the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Scientific Practice in 2015, the revised code may well require researchers to assess the risks of international scientific cooperation themselves.

The booklet International Scientific Cooperation was prepared by the Academy’s Standing Committee for the Freedom of Scientific Pursuit. Copies (in English only) can be ordered from or downloaded from the Academy website.

For more information:

Contact Erik van de Linde, head of Policy Advice: Research and Knowledge Division, +31 20 551 0770,