Good Scientific Practice

Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena


To safeguard good scientific practice, the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (FSU) has adopted the following principles and rules of procedure. The FSU will investigate any and all cases of suspected scientific misconduct at the University where there is concrete evidence or indications thereof. If, upon clarification of the facts, investigations confirm the suspected scientific misconduct, measures appropriate for the case in question will be taken making use of all options available. With this, the Friedrich Schiller University Jena also wants to promote and foster awareness for the basic principles of scientific practice among its established scientists and scholars, and to teach them to students and young researchers early on and continually as a self-evident condition and prerequisite for scientific and academic work. In addition, the present Guidelines clearly affirm the University's non-acceptance of scientific misconduct because it undermines public confidence in science and academia as well as mutual trust among scientists and scholars themselves.

§1 Good Scientific Practice

(1) The conduct of scientific work is founded on basic principles valid in all scientific disciplines. The primary principle is integrity and honesty towards oneself and towards others. Integrity and honesty are both an ethical principle and the basis for the rules of good scientific practice, the details of which may differ from one discipline to another.

(2) As examples of good scientific practice can, in particular, be considered:

  • general principles of scientific work, such as
    • observing professional standards,
    • documenting results,
    • consistently and rigorously questioning one's own findings,
    • practising strict honesty and openness with regard to the contributions of partners, competitors, and predecessors
  • cooperation and leadership responsibility in working groups;
  • supervision of young researchers;
  • safeguarding and storing primary data;
  • scientific publication as primary medium through which scientists give an account of their work;
  • respect for the intellectual property of others;
  • observing ethical standards when carrying out surveys.

(3) Good scientific practice is advanced and promoted through the cooperation of the many members of the University. Ensuring that the corresponding rules and principles are observed, communicated, and taught is primarily the task of the individual scientists and scholars, also if they lead projects or working groups, if they supervise young researchers, or have other management functions and superior authority. All Faculties and other scientific or academic institutions take on the responsibility and tasks they have been assigned and entrusted with in professional training, the promotion of young researchers, and the organization of research and academic life. Through the individuals working at these institutions and through their collegial bodies, they are responsible for creating the organizational and institutional conditions needed to safeguard good scientific practice.

§ 2 Scientific Misconduct

(1) Scientific misconduct, on the other hand, is violating ethical standards, giving false information, infringing intellectual property rights of others or compromising their research activity in another way, either intentionally or by gross negligence in a setting relevant to science and academia. The specific circumstances of each individual case shall be decisive.

(2) As examples of scientific misconduct can, in particular, be considered:

1.   giving false information by

  • inventing data;
  • falsifying data or sources, for example by
    • holding back relevant sources, evidence, or texts,
    • manipulating sources, illustrations, and/or images,
    • selecting and dismissing unwanted results without disclosure;
  • including incorrect information or details in a letter of application or grant application (including false information on a publication medium or forthcoming publications pending printing);
  • applicants making false statements with regard to academic or scientific achievements when interviewed by a selection committee or an experts' panel;

2. infringement of intellectual property
with regard to a copyrighted piece of work of another individual or significant scientific findings, hypotheses, teachings, or research approaches of others notably through

  • the unauthorized use of material claiming authorship (plagiarism),
  • exploitation of unpublished research approaches or ideas, particularly as expert and/or reviewer (theft of ideas),
  • claiming scientific authorship or co-authorship without having made any scientific contribution,
  • falsification of content,
  • unauthorized publishing or unauthorized sharing with third parties while the piece of work, the findings, the hypothesis, teaching content, or the research approach has not been published or made public,
  • using another person's name as (co-)author without their permission;

3. compromising research activity of others by

  • sabotaging research activity, for example, by
    • damaging, destroying, or manipulating experiment installations, equipment or devices, documents, hardware, software, chemicals, or other items or matters that the other person needs to carry out an experiment,
    • maliciously altering or removing books, archive records, manuscripts, data records,
    • intentionally making scientifically relevant data storage media unusable;
    • eliminating primary data insofar as this violates legal requirements or provisions or established principles for scientific work in the respective discipline;
    • destroying research material without permission or disclosing it to third parties without permission.

(3) Sharing the responsibility for academic misconduct can, among other things, arise as a result of active involvement in the misconduct of others, of having knowledge of falsifications committed by others, of being a co-author of falsified publications, or as a result of gross neglect of supervisory duties.

§ 3 Preventing Scientific Misconduct

To safeguard good scientific practice and to prevent scientific misconduct in research, the following rules are to be adhered to at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena:

  •  The general principles of scientific work and good scientific practice shall be taught to students already at the beginning of their studies. In doing so, students shall be educated to adopt an attitude of honesty and sincerity as well as responsibility and accountability in science and academia. Potential scientific misconduct shall be addressed in an adequate and reasonable way to raise and foster awareness among students and young researchers.
  • When carrying out research activities, scientific working groups shall be formed where possible. Cooperation in these working groups shall be organized in a way to allow for the findings obtained in this context of specialized division of labour to be communicated with the others involved, to be subjected to reciprocal criticism, and to be integrated into a common level of knowledge and experience.
  • All Faculties and other scientific and academic institutions ensure the support and supervision of young researchers. They shall adopt corresponding provisions and regulations.
  • With regard to criteria for performance assessment and evaluation in examinations, when awarding academic degrees, promoting staff, employing new staff, appointing somebody as professor, and when allocating funds, originality and quality shall always be given precedence over quantity.
  • Primary data as the basis for publications shall be stored on a durable and secure medium for ten years in the institution of their origin.
  • Strict honesty and sincerity with regard to contributions of partners, competitors, and predecessors shall be kept. Only he/she who has made a significant contribution to a particular research result shall be referred to as co-author.

§ 4 Impartial mediators (Ombudsman)

(1) Upon election by the Senate, the Rector shall, for the duration of 3 years, name four persons from among the University's professors as independent mediators (ombudsman) and contact persons for all members of the university who may want to voice allegations of scientific misconduct or report potential scientific misconduct. Re-election shall be possible. Names of these independent mediators shall be made available on the University's website.

(2) One impartial mediator shall be elected for each of the following academic areas: Arts, Humanities, and Cultural Sciences; Law and Economics and Business Administration; Natural Sciences; and Medicine. These persons shall have considerable experience in carrying out research projects and in training young researchers, and shall have good national and international contacts.

(3) Each of the four impartial mediators may be contacted by all members of the University and they shall fill in for each other. They shall listen to and give advice to any person that may inform them of suspected scientific misconduct. Every member of the University is entitled to be personally heard by one of the impartial mediators within a short period of time. The mediators shall review the totality of the accusations for their validity and relevance, examine their possible motives, and investigate possibilities to refute them.

§ 5 Committee

(1) To investigate accusations of scientific misconduct, a committee shall be formed, and the names of its members shall be made available on the University's website. It shall consist of a chairperson to be elected by the Senate upon recommendation of the Rector, the Vice-Rector for Research ex officio, and a member of the University's Faculty of Law as legal expert. The Committee may consult with a representative of the status group concerned in a specific case; he/she shall have an advisory capacity only. In addition, the Committee may include up to three persons as experts with an advisory capacity on a case-by-case basis.

(2) The Committee shall meet upon request of one its members.

(3) The Committee shall meet in closed session. Decisions are taken by simple majority; in the event of a tie, the chairman has the casting vote.

§ 6 Procedure when Scientific Misconduct is Suspected

(1) If one of the impartial mediators is given concrete indications of suspected scientific misconduct, he/she shall inform the chairperson of the Committee in writing of the accusations voiced, ensuring strict confidentiality to protect the whistleblower as well as the individual accused of scientific misconduct.

(2) The Committee shall be entitled to gather information and statements required to clarify the issue, and, on a case-by-case basis, to consult with expert reviewers of the concerned scientific field and other experts. The Committee examines in unfettered consideration of the evidence whether or not there has been a case of scientific misconduct.

(3) One of the impartial mediators may present the specific accusations on behalf of the whistleblower without having to disclose his/her identity. The person accused of scientific misconduct shall have to be informed without delay of the incriminating facts and of any pieces of evidence where applicable. The person accused as well as the whistleblower shall, in a suitable way, both be given the opportunity to state their views respectively. Upon request, they shall be heard in person. The person accused of scientific misconduct as well as the whistleblower may each choose to be assisted by a person of trust.

(4) If the identity of the whistleblower is not known to the person accused of scientific misconduct, it shall be disclosed to him/her if he/she is otherwise not able to defend him-/herself properly, in particular because the credibility of the whistleblower is of essential importance to confirm the case of scientific misconduct. The Committee shall have to decide on whether or not to disclose the whistleblower's name. It may be decided to exceptionally not disclose the whistleblower's identity if facts and evidence are obvious and clear.

(5) The Committee shall submit to the Rector a final report of the results of its investigations, including recommendations for further actions. At the same time, it shall inform the person accused of scientific misconduct as well as the whistleblower of the main results of its investigations.

(6) On the basis of this final report and the Committee's recommendations, the Rector shall decide whether to dismiss the case or whether there is sufficient evidence of scientific misconduct. In case sufficient evidence was found, he/she shall also decide on further actions to be taken. If the person in question has unjustly and without good reason been accused of scientific misconduct, the Rector shall ensure his/her rehabilitation.

Jena, 20 December 2006
Prof. Dr Klaus Dicke
Rector of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena