Ombudsperson for Good Scientific Practice
All research at HMGU is conducted according to the rules of Good Scientific Practice. At the HELENA Orientation Days, an interactive workshop introduces all new students to this topic. Ombudspersons for Good Scientific Practice ensure compliance with the rules of Good Scientific Practice and mediate in conflicts.
What are the general principles of good scientific practice?
The following rules are to be observed as general principles of scientific work at Helmholtz Zentrum München. HMGU employees shall
- work in accordance with the current state of knowledge (lege artis)
- comply exactly with discipline-specific rules for planning research work and for collecting, selecting and processing data
- document results
- critically question all results
- maintain strict honesty with regard to the contributions of employees, colleagues, partners, competitors and predecessors
- be open to criticism and doubt from colleagues and staff
- not obstruct the scientific work of others
- avoid and prevent scientific misconduct
In addition, as a matter of principle, employees of Helmholtz Zentrum München shall comply with national and international legal rules.
What do I need to pay attention to when collecting data?
All employees and guests working in experimental research at Helmholtz Zentrum München shall be provided a uniform laboratory notebook (bound book with logo, table of contents, consecutive page numbers) by their group leaders, in which all experimental steps/considerations/observations as well as data and results are recorded. Loose data sheets shall be pasted into the notebook or archived elsewhere. References shall be made in the laboratory notebooks about stored data/evaluations and data sheets that are archived elsewhere. A brief summary of the results and the plans agreed upon in meetings shall ensure the traceability of an investigation.
When can scientific misconduct occur?
Scientific misconduct occurs when serious deviations are made from the generally accepted practice of scientific work, in particular when consciously or with gross negligence false information is given, intellectual property of others is violated or their research activities are compromised. In particular the following is considered misconduct:
- Falsification of scientific content e.g. by inventing, faking or falsifying results
- False information in grant applications or reports on the use of funds, publications, applications, etc.
- Violation of intellectual property, e.g. through
- unauthorized utilization under the pretense of authorship (plagiarism) and the pretense or unfounded assumption of scientific authorship or co-authorship
- exploitation of unpublished scientific ideas or research approaches of other people (idea theft)
- publishing or making accessible content without the consent of the entitled person
- Willful damage, destruction or manipulation of work equipment or work results
- Making wrongful allegations of purported misconduct of others
- The removal of original data, insofar as it violates the legal provisions or discipline-related accepted principles of scientific work
- Double or multiple publications, redundant information
Partial responsibility for the misconduct of others can inter alia arise from:
- Participation in the misconduct of others
- Co-authorship of falsified publications
- Gross negligence of supervisory responsibilities
What should I do in case of scientific misconduct?
Ombudspersons for Good Scientific Practice ensure compliance with the rules of Good Scientific Practice and mediate in conflicts. The ombudsperson is responsible for accepting and reviewing complaints, resolving them in a mutually agreeable way wherever possible, introducing further measures if needed, and involving the Commission if necessary.
- Helmholtz Zentrum München appoints ombudspersons who provide advice and support to all scientists of the Center on questions of good scientific practice and violations thereof. Whenever possible, the ombudspersons shall mediate the dispute before bringing the case before institutional control bodies.
- For questions of scientific misconduct Helmholtz Zentrum München has a "Commission for Questions of Good Scientific Practice" (= Commission).
- Besides the ombudspersons, who have an advisory capacity, the following individuals belong to the Commission:
- Prof. Dr. Annette Peters (Chair of the Commission)
- Dr. Andreas Albert as head of the Speakers’ Assembly or his deputy head
- NN as representative of the Management.
- Tanja Kränzle, Compliance Officer
- The Commission reports to the Scientific-Technical Council about its activities.
The indication of scientific misconduct can be given to the ombudspersons or to a member of the Commission on Questions of Good Scientific Practice.
Whenever the ombudspersons receive an indication of scientific misconduct, they shall ask the person in question to give a statement. The name of the informant shall not be disclosed without his/her consent.
- The ombudspersons shall act so that violations of the Rules of Good Scientific Practice are resolved in direct contact with the person alleged of misconduct. The ombudspersons shall notify the informant about the status of the case and then send a written report to the Commission about the case in which they have been active.
- If the efforts of the ombudspersons remain unsuccessful or if there is suspicion of serious misconduct, they shall refer the case to the Commission. In doing so, they shall send written notification to the Chairman of the Commission and the CEO. The Chairman shall convene the Commission.
- The Commission shall also convene directly whenever a member of the Commission receives an indication of scientific misconduct.
- With the consent of the informant, the Commission may entrust the ombudspersons with the clarification of the suspicion of scientific misconduct and the restoration of good scientific practice.
- Otherwise, stating the allegations or evidence, the Commission shall solicit an oral and/or written statement from the individual suspected of scientific misconduct which he/she shall provide within two weeks. During this phase the name of the informant shall not be disclosed without his/her consent.
- The Commission shall prepare a report and inform the CEO, the person alleged of misconduct and the informant.
- The Board of Directors shall decide within two weeks whether to terminate the proceeding, whether to refer the case back to the Commission for resolution or whether to impose further consequences while respecting all rights of the Works Council according to the German Works Council Constitution Act.
- During the ongoing proceedings all involved persons are obligated to maintain strict confidentiality with respect to all information pertaining to the case.
Dr. Harald Seidlitz
Institute of Biochemical Plant Pathology, EUS (em.)
Building 22, room 119 (EUS Office)
Tel. +49 89 3187-2987
All publications (manuscripts, posters for conferences, etc.) must be approved by the Institute director via the electronic system of the HMGU ‘Electronic Publication Application’.