Confidential advisor

A confidential advisor (‘vertrouwenspersoon’) is associated with the KLI, to whom students can turn to confidentially ask advice about problems they may encounter with their supervisor or host institution.

Why a confidential advisor?
PhD students are mainly dependent upon one or two persons to guide them through the development from student to independent researcher, to judge their work, and give them feedback: their daily supervisor and their official supervisor (in Dutch: promotor). Sometimes these two roles are combined in one person. Such a rather intense contact with one or two persons, for four years, implies a realistic probability of some problems or conflicts arising along the way. Problems with others, for instance administrators, may also occur. That’s why the KLI has installed a confidential advisor, to advise PhD students when they need help to solve some of these problems.

Which problems can be brought before the confidential advisor?
The problems submitted to the confidential advisor mostly concern some form of conflict, or an expected conflict, or an uneasiness, with a promotor or daily supervisor. Some problems have to do with the commitment or involvement of the supervisor. Interestingly, both too little and too much involvement may occur. A different kind of problem relates to unwanted behavior by a supervisor or other faculty or staff member. These are all examples of situations that can be discussed with the confidential advisor.
The confidential advisor cannot help with problems regarding the research project itself. However, if discussing these matters with a supervisor seems impossible, then it might be useful to talk this communication problem over with the confidential advisor.

What can the confidential advisor do?
Essentially we have two methods of problem solving: help the PhD student solve their problems themselves, or help them solve the problem through mediation. In both cases we start with a meeting between advisor and student. To help someone solve their problems themselves, we use conflict counseling and advising. Advisor and student together decide upon the best strategy for the student to tackle their problems. The other method, mediation, can be so-called shuttle mediation, when the confidential advisor talks separately with the student, then with the supervisor, then again with the student, and so forth until a solution has been reached. Or it can be a mediation session in which the student and the supervisor(s) talk with each other in a structured way, under the advisor’s guidance.

Do not hesitate to contact the confidential advisor before an uneasy situation has escalated into a conflict. Meetings between a PhD student and a confidential advisor are strictly confidential. The confidential advisor will never discuss anything with a supervisor or other third party that may be involved, without the explicit approval and consent of the student. It is up to the PhD student to decide whether a supervisor or others will be contacted or not.

Contact details of the confidential advisor Ton Hol

Head of the Utrecht School of Law, Professor of Jurisprudence and Legal Philosophy at Utrecht University, and Chairman of the Committee of Scientific Intregrity UU.


Phone number: 00 31 6 51029447


Academic integrity

The KLI subscribes to guidelines for psychological research. If you encounter issues concerning academic integrity, you can follow the procedures as stated by your own university, see below. When these are not sufficient, you can contact the confidential advisor.

▪ Academic integrity procedures at Utrecht University
▪ Academic integrity procedures at University of Amsterdam
▪ Academic integrity procedures at VU Amsterdam
▪ Academic integrity procedures at University of Groningen
▪ Academic integrity procedures at Leiden University