Other contact persons

Chair of the University Committee for Good Academic Practice

Prof. Dr. Gregor Theilmeier

Dean of Faculty VI

Prof. Dr. Hans Gerd Nothwang

Vice Dean of Research of Faculty VI

Prof. Dr. Anja Bräuer

Research Data Management Service Desk

https://uol.de/fdm

Medical Ethics Committee

https://uol.de/medizinische-ethikkommission

Good academic practice

Good Scientific Practice

In scientific work, integrity and commitment to the truth have the highest priority. Scientific work takes place at all levels of academic qualification - in seminar papers, final papers, doctoral dissertations, work on research projects and management of research projects. Researchers at all levels of qualification must therefore always maintain a self-critical attitude regarding the scientific results obtained in their projects.

What does “good academic practice” mean?

According to the DFG Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Research Practice, the principles of good academic practice include „working lege artis, maintaining strict honesty in attributing one’s own contributions and those of others, rigorously questioning all findings, and permitting and promoting critical discourse within the research community. The principles of good research practice are set out in the following guidelines.“[1]

Based on these principles, the following requirements are defined in the Regulations governing the Principles for safeguarding good academic practice at the Carl von Ossietzky University:  

„1. Researchers must, to the best of their knowledge and belief, carry out their research according to current scientific knowledge in a professional and honest manner, and critically examine the plausibility of all obtained results. In doing so, they adhere to the current recommendations issued by the DFG for safeguarding good academic practice. Absolute honesty is essential in the event of contributions from partners, supervisors, employees, colleagues, competitors and predecessors. Researchers must mention all sources used in their research.

2. The methods, results and other primary data used must be adequately documented and stored for at least ten years. Scientific procedures and results must be recorded and documented in a precise and traceable manner, especially if it concerns experimental work, since it is absolutely essential that the research and experiments can be reproduced.

3. Scientific results are usually communicated to the scientific community in the form of publications and reports. As such, these scientific publications and reports, as well as empirical scientific experiments, are the product of researchers’ work.

4. The discipline and subject-specific principles of academic work must be adhered to. This also includes the observance of and compliance with the corresponding legal regulations and
voluntary commitments.“[2]

What is academic misconduct?

According to the Regulations governing the Principles for safeguarding good academic practice at the Carl von Ossietzky University, academic misconduct occurs „when researchers make false statements either deliberately or through serious negligence, violate the intellectual property or severely impair their research activities of others. The circumstances of the individual case are decisive.

The following acts in particular are regarded as academic misconduct:

1. False declarations […];

2. Violations of intellectual property with respect to third-party copyrighted material (including drawings, pictorial representations, etc.) or major scientific insights, hypotheses, teachings, or research approaches […];

3. Failing to mention or cite authors who made a significant contribution to the research project […].

4. Joint responsibility for academic misconduct can also arise as a result of:

a) Active involvement in the misconduct of others

b) Knowledge that someone else has falsified information

c) Co-authorship of falsified publications

d) Gross neglect of one’s obligation to monitor scientific research and work".[3]

What could be the causes of academic misconduct?

There may be a wide variety of causes for academic misconduct or violating good academic practice. On the one hand, these can be specific to the individual, i.e. acting in the interest of the individual researcher, but violations may also occur as a result of structural conditions within the research institution.

Personal reasons could be a lack of competence or negligence due to insufficient time/personal resources in dealing with the regulations for good academic practice. Moreover, a perceived intense pressure to succeed in terms of publishing research results and/or raising funds as a result of the competitive nature within the academic community could play a role. There may be the impression that delivering quick and seemingly good research results would be more likely to be rewarded compared to proper academic work, rather than the other way around.

Another cause of academic misconduct could be a lack of or improper supervision of junior academics in the research process. „Heads of working groups are responsible for making sure that junior academics receive sufficient support (PhD students as well as students and researchers in the initial stages of a postdoc position). Each of them must be assigned a primary contact person in the working group, who will inform them of the principles for safeguarding good academic practice."[4]

„Education in the principles of good research begins at the earliest possible stage in academic teaching and research training. Researchers at all career levels regularly update their knowledge about the standards of good research practice and the current state of the art."[5]

It is also important to foster an open working environment that embraces criticism, where alleged violations can be addressed and discussed.

The working group leader also has an extremely important function in terms of acting as an academic role model with regard to compliance with the standards.[6]

What consequences can academic misconduct have?

„Academic misconduct, in whatever shape or form, violates both the image and credibility of science. Not only does it damage the reputation of the dishonest researcher, but it also tarnishes the reputation of the University and science as a whole. It also casts doubts on the work of other scientists.“[7]

Depending on the severity of the violation of good academic practice, academic misconduct may endanger other individuals or groups, impair the progress of knowledge and lead to a loss of trust in the academic community.

Depending on the level of qualification, the academic consequences may be: exclusion from further examination components, expulsion from the university, correction or revocation of publications, exclusion from further funding, exclusion as a reviewer or member in academic committees, disqualification from teaching, revocation of an academic degree.

Consequences in terms of employment may be, for example, a warning, termination of contract or (immediate) dismissal.

Moreover, a violation may entail consequences under civil law, such as a ban from the premises, claims for damages, claims for surrender, claims for abatement, injunctive relief or claims for restitution.

Criminal prosecution of the violation, such as accusations of falsification of documents or damage to property, may also be a possible consequence.

What happens in the case of scientific misconduct?

The university has appointed several ombudspersons, who are available as your first contact persons if you have questions about whether an academic conduct is appropriate. You can contact one of the ombudspersons in this case.

In addition, you can also contact the university's and representatives as well as the and representatives from the OLTECH School of Medicine and Health Sciences as your first port of call. 

In addition, contact can be established with national ombudspersons (The German Research Ombudsman and the DFG Research Integrity Team).

The Committee for Good Academic Practice of the University of Oldenburg is responsible for investigating possible academic misconduct following the steps shown below:

What are the principles of "Good Clinical Practice" ?

Good Clinical Practice (GCP) is an international ethical and scientific standard for the planning, conduct, documentation and reporting of human clinical trials. Adherence to this standard provides public confidence that the rights, safety and well-being of trial subjects are protected in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki and that the data collected in the clinical trial are credible.[8]

Please direct any concrete questions to Dr. Heike Hennig (Head of the Coordination Centre for Clinical Studies (KKS)) and the Medical Ethics Committee.

Sources

[1] https://wissenschaftliche-integritaet.de/en/code-of-conduct/commitment-to-the-general-principles/ (DFG-Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Research Practice, last access on: 15.10.2021)

[2] https://uol.de/fileadmin/user_upload/gremien/Regulations-governing-the-Principles-for-safeguarding-good-academic-practice.pdf (Regulations governing the Principles for safeguarding good academic  practice at the Carl von Ossietzky University, p.2, last access on: 15.10.2021)

[3] https://uol.de/fileadmin/user_upload/gremien/Regulations-governing-the-Principles-for-safeguarding-good-academic-practice.pdf (Regulations governing the Principles for safeguarding good academic  practice at the Carl von Ossietzky University, p.7-8, last access on: 15.10.2021)

[4] https://uol.de/fileadmin/user_upload/gremien/Regulations-governing-the-Principles-for-safeguarding-good-academic-practice.pdf (Regulations governing the Principles for safeguarding good academic practice at the Carl von Ossietzky University, p.4, last access on: 15.10.2021)

[5] https://wissenschaftliche-integritaet.de/en/code-of-conduct/professional-ethics/ (DFG-Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Research Practice, last access on: 15.10.2021)

[6] vgl.https://www.dfg.de/download/pdf/dfg_im_profil/reden_stellungnahmen/download/empfehlung_wiss_praxis_1310.pdf (DFG Memorandum on Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice, p.16, last access on: 08.10.2021)

[7] https://uol.de/fileadmin/user_upload/gremien/Regulations-governing-the-Principles-for-safeguarding-good-academic-practice.pdf (Regulations governing the Principles for safeguarding good academic practice at the Carl von Ossietzky University, p.2, last access on: 15.10.2021)

[8] https://ichgcp.net/de (ICH- Guideline for Good Clinical Practice, last access on: 08.10.2021)

(Changed: 2021-11-24)