What is Good Scientific Practice?

Researchers are obliged to be accountable to society for their work, in particular through truthfulness, completeness, transparency, methodological honesty and verifiability of their research. General principles of research integrity or Good Scientific Practice are, in particular:

  • to work according to recognised scientific standards
  • to document procedures and results
  • to consistently self-doubt all results
  • to maintain strict transparency and honesty with regard to contributions of others
  • to make the origin of data known.

Good Scientific Practice also includes the best possible promotion of early-career researchers, the definition of appropriate forms for the evaluation of scientific achievements, as well as the development of and adherence to guidelines for authorship. These rules are described in more detail in the code of conduct "Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice" of the German Research Foundation (DFG).

What are the responsibilities of the Ombudspersons?

Saarland University has made arrangements and established regulations that help to ensure Good Scientific Practice and to avoid scientific misconduct. This includes the appointment of an ombudsperson and a deputy ombudsperson. As neutral and qualified contact persons, they advise on questions of Good Scientific Practice or on suspected cases of scientific misconduct and, as far as possible, contribute to solution-oriented conflict mediation. They receive possible allegations of scientific misconduct confidentially and - as all other persons involved in an ombuds procedure - commit to maintaining strict confidentiality. Suspected cases of scientific misconduct are submitted by the ombudspersons to the responsible Standing Commission of Saarland University if required.

What is scientific misconduct?

Scientific misconduct occurs when the rules of Good Scientific Practice are violated in a significant way, for example when false statements are made in a research context, the intellectual property of others is infringed (for example through theft of ideas or unsubstantiated authorship or co-authorship), the research activities of others are obstructed or primary data are discarded against legal requirements. Not every violation of the rules of Good Scientific Practice automatically constitutes scientific misconduct. In particular, deliberate or grossly negligent violations can be considered as scientific misconduct.

What can you do in case of tangible suspicions?

In the event of tangible suspicions of scientific misconduct, you can immediately contact the Ombudspersons or their Ombuds Office. As a matter of principle, the consultations and ombuds procedures are strictly confidential, i.e. the persons involved can trust that they will initially only speak to the Ombudsperson or their Ombuds Office, who are in turn bound to confidentiality. This means that all persons involved in an ombuds procedure can express themselves freely without having to fear a loss of reputation.

Alternatively, every researcher at Saarland University can also appeal to the independent, nationally operating body "German Research Ombudsman".