German Research Ombudsman (Ombudsman für die Wissenschaft)

Founding year

1999

History

The German Research Ombudsman (Ombudsman für die Wissenschaft) was installed by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) in 1999. It serves as a nation-wide mediator in conflicts based on all kinds of scientific misconduct and complements the well established network of local Ombudspersons. Advice is given based on the guidelines “Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice” summarized in a DFG-memorandum. At present, the committee is formed by Prof. Dr. Brigitte M. Jockusch (since February 2011), Prof. Dr. Joachim Heberle (since October 2014), Prof. Dr. Stephan Rixen (since May 2015, spokesman) and Prof. Dr. Renate Scheibe (since January 2017). The office of the Ombudsman is located in Berlin.

ENRIO member since

2010

Structure

Voluntary-based

The four honorary members of the Ombudsman committee are regularly appointed by the German Research Foundation for a term of three years, with a possible reelection for another three-year term.

Main Tasks

The main task of the German Research Ombudsman is to arbitrate between researchers in cases of conflict and to investigate cases of scientific misconduct. Researchers can also consult the Ombudsman office with questions concerning aspects of good scientific practice.

Investigation

Inquiries or requests to the German Research Ombudsman can be submitted to the Ombudsman office. All inquiries are forwarded to the Ombudsman committee and are discussed in regular meetings. In allegations of scientific misconduct, appropriate evidence is requested. Inquiries brought before the Ombudsman committee may be related to all kinds of scientific misbehavior. Scientists may describe authorship conflicts, inadequate mentorship and neglect of support of young scientists, research obstruction, abuse of financial support, etc.

The Ombudsman operates according to the principles of confidentiality and impartiality. Without a legal mandate for imposing sanctions, the Ombudsman tries to solve conflicts by mediating between both parties (whistleblower and defendant). Progress towards conflict resolution is aimed at by extensive communication and hearings with both parties. If necessary, local Ombudspersons, external referees or journal editors are consulted.

In Germany, cases of serious fraud are investigated by individual universities and research institutions. Thus, the Ombudsman forwards cases of alleged non-correctable misdemeanors such as plagiarism, data manipulation or data fabrication to the local institutionary commissions that are suited to handling inquiries of scientific misconduct.

Chart Workflow of investigation German Research Ombudsman

Training

Scientists are welcome to contact to the Ombudsman office with questions regarding good scientific practice. Moreover, committee members of the German Research Ombudsman are regularly invited to present their work at research institutions and universities.

Other tasks: Confidential mediation

Confidential mediation between researchers in cases of conflict

Contact

Dr. Hjördis Czesnick, Saskia Welde

German Research Ombudsman - Office
Jägerstraße 22-23
10117 Berlin - Germany

+49 30 20370 484

Geschäftsstelle für Ombudsangelegenheiten der Universität Hamburg

Founding year

2013

History

Based on the Recommendation 5 of the DFG-Memorandum “Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice (1998)”, all German universities and research institutes shall appoint ombudspersons as contactpersons for questions concerning good scientific practice and in cases of suspected scientific misconduct. In the revised version of 2013, it is stipulated additionally that the institutions should consider ways in which the workload of the ombudspersons could be reduced and their mediation work could be rendered more effective. In accordance with this target, the University of Hamburg decided in May 2013 to implement the “Geschäftsstelle für Ombudsangelegenheiten der Universität Hamburg” which started its work on October 1st, 2013.

ENRIO member since

2013

Structure

s.a.; Ombudsstelle is part of the University of Hamburg and insofar legally based

Main Tasks

Beside the administrative support of the five-member ombuds’ committee, the tasks of the Ombudsstelle are to offer presentations and workshops about GWP, to counsel those who are seeking advice or need information and support in a conflict situation. Furthermore and as a concrete offer for the prevention of misconduct due to lack of knowledge or uncertainty of the GSP rules, an individual coaching is offered and also possible before an intervention of an ombudsperson.

Investigation

Examination and Clearing-up of cases of suspected scientific misconduct that may have occurred at the University of Hamburg by its current or former members

Ombudspersons work independently, they shall not be subject to instructions, and act as impartial mediators. All current and former members of the University have access to ombudspersons, who provide confidential counsel on all matters relating to good scientific practice and allegations of scientific misconduct.

Following the bylaws of the University of Hamburg, the purpose of the ombuds proceedings is to mediate conflicts in an unbureaucratic and objective manner. They consist of an independent assessment of the conflict, consideration of the arguments brought forward by those involved and/or affected, as well as the internal examination of facts and data relating to the case.

The aim of the ombuds proceedings is to reach a solution satisfactory to both parties in a conflict. The ombudspersons will not initiate any proceedings without information from a person involved in or affected by a case.

Training

Lectures and workshops on GSP, on demand of working groups or institutes of the University.

All workshops and lectures are based on the “Curriculum Good Scientific Practice for Courses in Science and Medicine” (G. Sponholz, 2011)

Target groups are mainly PhD-students, but also Postdocs and staff of working groups or departments.

Starting with only five introductory lectures and presentations in 2014, the demand increased constantly (18 lectures and workshops in 2015, 20 in 2016).

Promoting Research Integrity

Regular presentation of the Bylaws of the University of Hamburg in each faculty, in academic panels and committees, such as PhD-boards, staff councils, etc.

General Information and detailed elaboration of terms of Good Scientific practice and cases of scientific misconduct at any arising opportunity

Contact

Helga Nolte

Geschäftsstelle für Ombudsangelegenheiten der Universität Hamburg
Von-Melle-Park 6 (Phil-Turm, Raum 469)
20146 Hamburg - Germany

+49 40 428 38 3564

Team Scientific Integrity (Team SciInt)

Founding year

2009

History

In 2009, two scientists founded Team Scientific Integrity (Team SciInt) after the “Curriculum ‘Good Scientific Practice’ for Courses in Science and Medicine” had been published on behalf of the German National Ombudsman. Since then, it has grown to six active members and several associate members.

ENRIO member since

2013

Structure

Association, voluntary based

Main Tasks

The members of Team SciInt conduct workshops and trainings and give presentations on good scientific practice/research integrity. They give advice to research institutions that intend to implement or revise regulations or procedures concerning GSP/RI and counsel individuals on protecting their scientific integrity. They develop curricula and teaching materials for courses, workshops, presentations and trainings. Research on the prevalence of misconduct and the knowledge of researchers about GSP/RI is an additional field of activity.

Training

Since 2009, Team Scientific Integrity conducted more than 325 workshops on good scientific practice (GSP) for doctoral students and postdocs in Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, France, Italy and Estonia with more than 3,500 participants.

Currently, Team SciInt members conduct about 80 workshops per year at more than forty universities in Germany and abroad, at Leibniz Institutes, Helmholtz Institutes, Max Planck Institutes and universities of applied science. The participants of the regular GSP workshops are predominantly doctoral students. The workshops are usually part of a graduate academy programme, of a further education curriculum for doctoral students, or of a graduate school’s structured programme (e. g. ITN, IMPRS, IRTG, GRK). In 2015 we started offering GSP workshops for postdocs and senior researchers.

The length of a regular GSP workshop is between 10 academic hours for participants from non-empirical research fields and 20 hours for participants from experimental sciences. The content of the workshops is based upon the institution’s GSP/RI by-laws or recommendations, state and federal regulations, the German Curriculum for Good Scientific Practice, the European Science Foundation’s Code of Conduct for Research Integrity, and the Singapore and Montréal Statements. The workshops cover a wide range of topics:

  • Good scientific practice in the process of science
  • Definitions and extent of questionable research practice and scientific misconduct
  • Good scientific practice and misconduct in data and sources management and handling
  • Good scientific practice and misconduct in the process of publishing
  • Authorship misconduct
  • Dealing with questionable practice and misconduct in science
  • The role of ombudspersons, whistle-blowers and investigative committees
  • The role of mentoring and supervision for the development of scientific integrity
  • Conflict of interest and cooperation in research
  • Official local, national and international recommendations, guidelines and regulations
  • In 2013 Team SciInt began training GSP teachers. Depending on the teachers’ target audiences and the planned teaching content, the training courses last between two and six days with up to three modules. Six teacher training courses have been completed in Germany so far, three more are scheduled until 2018. The training courses include teaching exercises, case study writing, didactic reflection and an in-depth study of rules and regulations.

Promoting Research Integrity

Team SciInt members have been advisors for several universities and research organizations concerning the revision and implementation of GSP regulations.

Other tasks: personal coaching; development of courses and teaching materials; research on GSP.

Personal coaching by Team SciInt members is provided for researchers who seek confidential advice on protecting their scientific integrity.

Based upon the “Curriculum ‘Good Scientific Practice’ for Courses in Science and Medicine” which was commissioned by and developed in cooperation with the German Research Ombudsman, and upon the revised and extended version for all academic disciplines, Team SciInt develops curricula and teaching materials for presentations, short and long courses and workshops, and trainings on GSP/RI. Supported by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) and the Austrian Ministry of Science and Research, both curricula were translated into English.

Research activities mainly focus upon the experience of young researchers with scientific misconduct and their general knowledge about GSP/RI regulations and procedures. The results are presented on conferences (WCRI) and in scientific journals.

Contact

Dr. Michael Gommel

Institut für systemische Medizin- und Organisationsethik
Weserstrasse 10
10247 Berlin - Germany

+49 30 26076103

PD Dr. Dr. Gerlinde Sponholz

Institut für Medizin- und Organisationsethik
Senefelderstraße 15
10437 Berlin - Germany

+49 30 46796430