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My university has a fellowship open for competition. On the official website, they wrote:

The primary deciding factor is student's research publications. For fairness, the application portfolio of the awardees will be publicized for all our students to verify.

However, now the result is announced and no portfolio is publicized for us to check. I asked the university and they said it was a clerical typo: "No portfolio is going to be shared, only the names of the awardee will be shared".

I feel like the university is being hypocritical. Universities punish people who get caught cheating, but when the university goes back on its promise, it is only a "typo."

I find it fishy, so I searched the top three names of the awardees on Google Scholar and other platforms. None of them have any research publications, while some failed applicants have strong research publications.

What can I do here?

Fighting against the institution is an up-hill battle. I am not intending to reverse their decision, as they create the rubric and even if all portfolios are publicized, they can still make a grading rubric to explain their choices.

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    which country? the answer depends strongly ...
    – EarlGrey
    Nov 20, 2023 at 13:54
  • Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on Academia Meta, or in Academia Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed.
    – cag51
    Nov 21, 2023 at 21:16

2 Answers 2

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I am surprised to see people down-voting your post and calling it a rant.

I think it's very natural to expect academic institution (and any institution fwif) to demonstrate transparency and high ethical standards. Getting back on their promise to share relevant data is a lack of transparency and honesty, and you are right to feel bad about it. If you checked the public evidence and it supports your suspicion that a dishonest act has been committed, it is perfectly fine to seek remedy.

Here's my view of the situation. University wants a good image of itself, because it brings them more students and public funding. To improve the image, they want to give out some scholarships. They don't want to say: "we are going to award scholarships to obscure applicants, likely related to VC or Dept Chair", because they won't get good public image from that. They want to appear generous, fair and transparent. But someone in the chain of command still want their niece or grandson to get a scholarship, so they go against their own promise.

Of course, they can do whatever they want with their own money, but this is not the issue your question talks about. The issue is that they want to get a good public image for appearing one way, when in fact they act differently. It is in public interest when everyone acts transparently and appears for what they are. It is not a rant to try to get the truth out.

To answer your question: all institutions are prone to corruption and favouritism, but some do much more to fight against it.

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    Many thanks Dmitry for your understandings! Could you please help me a little bit more by hinting the names or geo-locations of those universities who "do much more to fight against it"?
    – dodo
    Nov 20, 2023 at 14:24
  • I had excellent experience with transparency of application process to Universities from Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Nov 21, 2023 at 1:49
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    As you mention, in Norway there are laws (e.g. Forskrift til forvaltningsloven) that require a certain amount of transparency in hiring processes for government positions. I believe that this would be required for e.g a university PhD-position. A translation of one of the paragraphs: "A party in a case about appointment has the right to familiarize himself with the applications from applicants who have been nominated for or appointed to the position, and attachments to these applications." Nov 21, 2023 at 14:21
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    @HansWurst: "expect" in this context means "they should" (e.g. see definition B2 here ).
    – psmears
    Nov 21, 2023 at 15:37
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    @DavidA.Craven From the unedited version of the question it was clear that the portfolio is basically a publication list. Your argument of copyright is therefore baseless. I should add that it is not unusual for admins to try to cover institutional wrongdoing by baseless appeals to irrelevant pieces of legislation. When someone says "but GDPR", "but privacy", or "but copyright" without pointing out specifically how it applies to the situation, you can strongly suspect they want to avoid a meaningful and open discussion. Nov 22, 2023 at 23:40
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No funding agency and no hiring institution publishes the portfolio of applicants (successful or not). There may be privacy questions involved in this, but in any case, it just isn't done -- and so it does not surprise me that your university came to its senses and decided that it can't publish the application documents. In other words, it does seem like a mistake to promise that they would. Sometimes, what people say is actually what is happening.

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  • Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on Academia Meta, or in Academia Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed.
    – cag51
    Nov 21, 2023 at 21:13

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