Good sci­entific prac­tice

Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences Policy on Ensuring Good Scientific Practice and Handling Scientific Misconduct

01.06.2016

Pursuant to Art. 6 Sect. 1 Cl. 3 HS.2 of the Bavarian Higher Education Act (Bayerisches Hochschulgesetz - BayHSchG) from 23 May 2006 (GVBI. p. 245, BayRS 2210-1-1-WFK), Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences issues the following statute:

 

1.  Preamble

Scientific practice relies on basic principles of methodical, systematic and verifiable procedures, which are the same in all disciplines, countries and cultures. The most important of these principles is honesty - towards oneself and towards others. Universities are responsible for quality assurance and formulating their own substantive laws.

 

2.  Introduction

The Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences (HNU) policy on “Ensuring Good Scientific Practice and Handling Scientific Misconduct” is based on:

the recommendations from the German Research Foundation (DFG, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) committee “Self-Regulation in Science”, issued in December 1997 and amended in September 2013,

the DFG Rules of Procedure for Handling Scientific Misconduct, adopted by the DFG Joint Committee on 26 October 2001 and amended by the Joint Committee on 5 July 2011,

the recommendations on “Dealing with Scientific Misconduct at Higher Education Institutions” from the 185th Plenary Assembly of the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK, Hochschulrektorenkonferenz) on 6 July 1998,

the recommendations on “Good Scientific Practice at German Higher Education Institutions” from the German Rectors’ Conference General Meeting on 14 May 2013,

the “Rules of Good Scientific Practice” adopted by the Max Planck Society on 24 November 2000 and amended on 20 March 2009,

the “Code of Conduct for Safeguarding Good Academic Practice and Procedures in Cases of Academic Misconduct” adopted by the Technical University of Munich on 20 December 2013.

 

3.  Objectives

The HNU is committed to promoting practical education and applied research. This policy is binding for all HNU academic members (professors, research staff and students) as well as all members of its affiliated institutes.

All academic members of the HNU and the above-mentioned institutes are to be informed of this policy, which is also to be an integral part of the education and training of early career researchers.

This commitment is intended to ensure the quality of scientific practice and to serve as proof for external institutions of the quality standards for research in place at the HNU.

The HNU Executive Board, as well as those responsible for individual departments, are to ensure that the duties of management, supervision, conflict resolution and quality assurance are clearly assigned and also performed.

This policy only applies to scientific research findings and scientific publications.

 

4.  Good scientific practice

General principles of good scientific practice include:

observing discipline-specific rules for acquiring new knowledge

documenting results

consistently questioning one’s own results

maintaining absolute honesty with regard to contributions from partners, competitors and predecessors.

 

5.  Scientific misconduct

Scientific misconduct has occurred when a researcher, either intentionally or through gross negligence, makes false statements, infringes upon the intellectual property rights of third parties or interferes with the research activities of others in any way. Scientific misconduct includes the following, in particular:
 

a.  False information:

fabrication of data,

falsification of data and sources, such as

  • withholding relevant sources, documents or texts,
  • selecting and omitting undesirable results, without declaring as such,
  • manipulating sources, figures or images,

incorrect statements on applications for funding (including false information about the publisher or publications currently being printed).

 

b.  Infringement of intellectual property rights:

with respect to copyrighted work created by others or significant scientific findings, hypotheses, teachings or research approaches from another person,

unauthorised exploitation or claims of authorship (plagiarism),

exploitation, particularly of unpublished research approaches and ideas, especially in the role of reviewer (idea theft),

claims or unfounded acceptance of scientific authorship or co- authorship,

falsification of contents,

unauthorised publication or unauthorised granting of access to third parties prior to publication of the work, finding, hypothesis, teaching content or research approach,

claims of (co-)authorship for another person without his/her consent.

 

c.  Interference in third-party research:

Sabotage with respect to the research of others, including:

  • damage, destruction or manipulation of test set-ups, equipment, documents, hardware, software, chemicals or other items required to conduct an experiment,
  • malicious displacement or theft of books, archives, manuscripts, data sets, laboratory or experimental records,
  • deliberate tampering with scientifically relevant information media, such as books, documents or other data and records, with the intention of rendering them useless.

Disposal of primary data, insofar as this would violate legal provisions or the generally accepted principles of scientific practice in a particular discipline.

 

d.  False accusations

Frivolous allegations of scientific misconduct, and especially the deliberate raising of false allegations, also constitute a form of scientific misconduct. Allegations may not be made without prior verification and sufficient examination of the facts.

 

e.  Contributory responsibility

Scientific misconduct also includes behaviour resulting in shared responsibility for the misconduct of others, in particular:

active participation in the misconduct of others,

co-authorship of falsified publications or

gross negligence of supervisory duties.

 

6.  Supervision of early career scientists

Educating and supporting early career scientists requires special attention. This topic is addressed in the “Recommendation on Staff Development for Research Staff at the Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences”.

 

7.  Performance and evaluation criteria

The criteria for evaluating scientific work within the context of examinations, awarding of academic degrees, promotions, recruitment, university professor appointments and financial awards must be based primarily on qualitative parameters and be made transparent.

 

8.  Backup and storage of primary data

Primary data used as the basis for publications must be securely stored in a durable form at the institution of origin or at the HNU for a period of ten years. The HNU provides suitable safekeeping facilities for this purpose. HNU IT Services (RZ, Rechenzentrum) provides appropriate storage space for storing and backing up digital data.

The author of a publication bears the responsibility for correct and complete storage of the corresponding data.

 

9.  Authorship of publications

Authors of joint academic publications always share the responsibility for their content. To be listed as an author of an academic publication, a person must have made a substantial contribution to it completion. “Honorary authorship” is excluded.

 

10.  Scientific journals

Scientific journals published by the HNU should indicate in their guidelines for authors that submitted contributions are to reflect the criteria for authorship in accordance with best international practice in terms of quality, i.e.:

Publications reporting on new scientific findings at the HNU should

describe the findings completely and in a way that is understandable,

provide complete and correct references for preliminary work done by themselves or others (citations),

repeat previously published findings only in a clearly identified form and only insofar as it is necessary for understanding the context.

Reviewers of submitted manuscripts must be required to maintain confidentiality and to disclose any conflicts of interest.

 

11.  Ombudspersons

The HNU Academic Senate selects two ombudspersons and two deputies, recommending them for appointment to the University Executive Board. The ombudspersons must be among the HNU scientific staff. Ombudspersons have a 5-year term of office, after which they can be re-elected.

The members of the University Executive Board, the HNU deans and the HNU senators cannot be elected as ombudspersons at the HNU.

The University Executive Board ensures that the names of the ombudspersons are announced throughout the HNU.

All members of the HNU and the above-mentioned institutes are entitled to speak to an ombudsperson in person at short notice.

The ombudspersons prepare an annual report, which is available to all university members, and report to the Academic Senate.

 

12.  Investigation Committee

A permanent Investigation Committee has been established at the HNU for the purpose of investigating allegations of scientific misconduct.

The Investigation Committee consists of:

  1. one professor from each HNU department. The professors and their deputies are elected by the respective department boards;
  2. one research associate from the HNU research staff. The HNU Academic Senate elects this person and his/her deputy. The representative of the research staff in the Academic Senate proposes a list of candidates to the Academic Senate,
  3. the HNU legal advisor.

The persons listed in numbers 1 and 2 above have a term of office of five years, with the possibility of being re-elected to one further term of office.

The members of the University Executive Board and the HNU deans cannot be elected members of the Committee. The Investigation Committee elects one of its members as chairperson. The decision is taken based on the majority preference of the voting members.

Non-voting members, with an advisory function, are:

the ombudspersons,

a student representative from the Academic Senate, insofar as student matters are concerned (especially students as accused persons).

Within the framework of the formal investigation, the Investigation Committee may, at its own discretion, consult experts from the field of a scientific matter to be investigated, as well as experts who specialise in dealing with such cases. These experts may include mediators.

 

13.  Procedure

The entire procedure must be treated with the utmost confidentiality by all parties concerned. Any biased persons are to be excluded from the proceedings. Conflicts of interest may be declared either by the concerned parties themselves, or by other parties involved, and must include a statement of reasons.

 

a.  Preliminary inquiry by ombudspersons

In the event of concrete suspicion of scientific misconduct, an ombudsperson must be informed immediately. The information should be submitted in writing and in good faith. In the case of a verbal report of suspicion, a written record must be made of the suspicion and supporting evidence.

The ombudspersons first discuss the allegations of scientific misconduct amongst themselves. If an initial suspicion cannot be unequivocally dispelled, the complainant and the respondent are questioned separately and confidentially on the facts of the case.

The ombudspersons investigate the allegations independently of one another with regard to plausibility, concreteness and significance, possible motives and possible means of dispelling the allegations.

The ombudspersons strive at all times to mediate between the parties involved in the case. If the mediation efforts lead to an amicable resolution of the allegations, the ombudspersons discontinue the proceedings and archive the corresponding records.

The preliminary investigation may be discontinued on the grounds of insignificance if less severe scientific misconduct has been established and the respondent has made a significant contribution to clarifying the matter, offers him/herself to take action, or has already taken action to remedy any damage that has occurred. This decision must be communicated to the complainant.

In the event that at least one ombudsperson deems the case of scientific misconduct to be sufficiently probable, the Investigation Committee is required to carry out a final investigation on the matter.

Should the ombudspersons arrive at the conclusion that the allegations of scientific misconduct are unfounded, the procedure must be discontinued and the complainant is to be informed in writing of the decision and supporting argumentation. If the respondent has already been involved at this point, he/she must also be informed of the decision.

If the complainant is not in agreement with the ombudspersons’ decision, he/she has the right to request a new hearing within a period of fourteen days.

 

b.  Preliminary inquiry by the Investigation Committee

The party accused of misconduct must be informed by the Investigation Committee of the incriminating facts and evidence against him/her and given the immediate opportunity to make a statement. The respondent is given four weeks to respond. At this stage, the name of the complainant must not be disclosed to the respondent without his/her consent.

Following either the receipt of the respondent’s statement or the lapse of the deadline, the Investigation Committee takes a decision within a period of two weeks as to whether the preliminary investigation should be discontinued due to unsubstantiated suspicion or because the alleged misconduct has been completely clarified, or whether a formal investigation should be triggered. Both the respondent and the complainant must be informed of the reasons for the decision.

If the complainant is not in agreement with the discontinuation of the investigation, he/she is given a two-week time period in which he/she may address the Investigation Committee, which will then reconsider its decision.

 

c.  Formal investigation

The University Executive Board must be informed by the chairperson of the Investigation Committee when a formal investigation is triggered.

The Investigation Committee deliberates privately and orally. It freely examines the evidence in order to determine whether scientific misconduct has occurred. The respondent must be given appropriate opportunity to provide a statement. He/she must be allowed to address the Committee in person at his/her request and may bring a person of his/her choice for support. Other persons to be heard may also bring along a person of their choice for support.

It may become necessary to disclose the name of the complainant if the respondent is otherwise not in a position to defend him/herself adequately, for instance if the complainant’s credibility and motives are relevant to the allegation of possible misconduct. The Investigation Committee decides on the disclosure of the complainant’s name at the respondent’s request.

The proceedings are to be discontinued if the Investigation Committee does not deem the case of misconduct to be proven. If the Investigation Committee finds the allegation of misconduct to be substantiated, it must present the results of its investigation to the University Executive Board with a proposal for further proceedings, including recommendations for protecting the rights of others, for the purpose of decision-making and further consideration in the context of labour law, university law, disciplinary law or laws of another nature.

The main reasons for discontinuing the case or referring the proceedings to the University Executive Board must be immediately communicated in writing to the respondent, the complainant and the HNU president.

There is no internal appeal procedure for appealing the decision of the Investigation Committee.

At the conclusion of a formal investigation, the chairperson of the Investigation Committee identifies all parties who are (were) involved in the case. He/she instructs the ombudspersons to consult with all involved parties, in particular the early career researchers and students who have been involved in scientific misconduct through no fault of their own, with regard to protecting their personal and academic integrity. The need to maintain confidentiality should be reiterated in this context.

 

d.  Conclusion of proceedings

The records of the formal investigation must be retained for a period of 40 years.

Parties named in connection with a case of scientific misconduct are entitled to request a statement (in their favour) from the ombudspersons within the retention period.

At the respondent’s request, the University Executive Board may publish the results of the investigation in duly justified cases. The Investigation Committee determines whether a particular case is duly justified or not.

Persons who report their suspicions of scientific misconduct must not suffer any disadvantages with regard to their own scientific and professional advancement as a result. The ombudspersons, the members of the Investigation Committee and the University Executive Board must act appropriately to protect complainants.

 

14.  Effectiveness

This policy comes into effect on 1 June 2016 and replaces the policy from 1 June 2015.

 

Issued pursuant to the resolutions of the Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences Academic Senate from 10.05.2016 and the legal supervisory approval of the HNU president from 18.05.2016.

 

Neu-Ulm, 18 May 2016

 

Prof. Dr. Uta M. Feser
President
Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences

 

*This document only serves the purpose of providing information on the contents of the corresponding document in German. The official document in German is the version that is legally binding.
Dieses Dokument dient lediglich als Information über die Inhalte des zugehörigen deutschsprachigen Dokumentes. Rechtsverbindlich ist allein die Ausfertigung in deutscher Sprache.

 

 


 

HNU's ombudspersons are currently (since June 29, 2016):

Prof. Dr. Philipp Brune

Prof. Dr. Walter Swoboda