In what seems to me a difficult PR challenge to both, DR (the Danish BBC equivalent) and Copenhagen University‘s Department of Sociology have collaborated in censoring a sociology master thesis. As reported in Information (upon which the following is based) Mille Buch-Andersen did a study of the organizational culture of DR’s symphonic orchestra.
While her supervisor apparently assured her repeatedly that the master thesis was ready for submission, an angry email from DR seems to have caused a change of heart at the department who urged/threatened Buch-Andersen to withdraw the thesis and revise it before resubmitting.
Having revised and received her degree, Buch-Andersen now says (in my translation):
Academically, I am very disappointed by the department. I am also surprised – no, I am speechless about this. It’s against everything which I thought sociology to be. And it is the direct opposite of what we are taught. We learn that it is the role of sociology to uncover power relations, abuse of power and conflicts in this regard. And that it is part of the discipline that our reports can sometimes be unpleasant reading to some.
That one has to hurt.
While both DR and the department claim “breaches of research ethics” – and while I’m sure there are still-unrevealed aspects of the case – two (in this context) powerful organizations threatening a single student who claims to be a victim of politics and academic cowardice is difficult to paint in pretty colors. One wonders if far less harm had come of letting the student simply submit the original thesis; the chosen strategy seems both exagerated and desperate, as in “what do they have to hide which is so light-sensitive?”.