Guidelines on Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice and Dealing with Scientific Misconduct

at the Hamburg University of Technology

(Only the original German version of this document is legal, valid and binding.
This English translation is for information purpose only)

The Academic Senate of the Hamburg University of Technology, taking into account the proposals of the German Research Foundation for safeguarding good scientific practice, adopts the following guidelines:

§ 1
Good Scientific Practice

  1. Scientific work is based on fundamental principles that apply in equal measure to all disciplines. The overriding principle is truthfulness toward oneself and others. It is, at one and the same time, an ethical standard and the basis for the rules of scientific professionalism, i.e. good scientific practice, differ though they otherwise may from discipline to discipline.
  2. Examples of good scientific practice include, for example:
  3. Good scientific practice can only be achieved by means of collaboration on the part of all members of the University. Observance and dissemination of the relevant rules are first and foremost the responsibility of the individual scientists, especially if they act as project managers, as heads of working groups, as supervisors or otherwise as superiors. The research centers and schools of studies at the Hamburg University of Technology are in charge of the tasks with which they are entrusted in education, the promotion of young scientists and the organization of research and academic life. They are thus responsible for the organizational and institutional preconditions for ensuring good scientific practice.

§ 2
Scientific Misconduct

  1. Scientific misconduct is deemed to occur if there is a deliberate or grossly negligent breach of the principle of truthfulness, especially when false statements are made, the intellectual property of others is violated or the research activity of others is impaired.
  2. Misconduct by individual scientists may especially occur in the form of:
    1. Misrepresentation by
    2. Infringement of intellectual property
    3. Impairment of the research work of others by means of
  3. A shared responsibility for misconduct may result inter alia from active participation in misconduct by others, from complicity in falsification by others, from co-authorship of publications involving falsifications and from gross neglect of supervisory responsibility.

§ 3
Prevention of Scientific Misconduct

To safeguard good scientific practice and prevent scientific misconduct the following rules are to be observed at the Hamburg University of Technology:

  1. Students are to be taught the principles of scientific work and good scientific practice at the outset of their studies. They are to be trained to be honest and responsible. Appropriate mention is to be made of the possibility of scientific misconduct in order to sensitize students and young scientists accordingly.
  2. Working groups are to collaborate in such a way that the results achieved can be shared, subjected to critical discourse and integrated into a common state of knowledge.
  3. Special attention is to be paid to the training and supervision of young scientists. Heads of scientific working units must ensure that an experienced scientific partner is allocated to their young scientists in order to supervise, advise and support them.
  4. Quality and originality must always enjoy priority over quantity as assessment and performance criteria.
  5. Honesty is to be observed in respect of research contributions by partners, competitors and predecessors. As authors of publications, however, only those partners are to be named who have made a fundamental contribution toward the results.
  6. Care must be taken to ensure that primary data serving as a basis for publications is kept for ten years on durable and secured media in the institute where it originated.

§ 4
Impartial Counselor (Ombudsperson)

  1. The President appoints in consultation with the Deans of Studies and spokespersons for research centers at the Hamburg University of Technology two impartial counselors (ombudspersons) to whom members of the University must report allegations and suspicions of scientific misconduct. Only renowned teachers at the Hamburg University of Technology may be appointed. They serve for a three-year term that may be renewed.
  2. The impartial counselors are independent in the conduct of their office and are not subject to instructions. They may not be put to disadvantage for performing their duties.
  3. Members of the University are free in their choice of the impartial counselor to whom they report their allegations or suspicions of scientific misconduct. Duties in accordance with these Guidelines are, however, to be performed by the other impartial counselor if there is any concern that an impartial counselor might be in conflict of interest or it cannot be ruled out that he or she might be subject to investigation on account of his or her other position at the University in respect of the misconduct reported or to be reported. The impartial counselors shall otherwise stand in for each other.
  4. In the event of a report of scientific misconduct the impartial counselor consulted will give the informant an opportunity in a short period of time for further explanation and discussion of the circumstances reported. The impartial counselor will summarily check reports of suspected scientific misconduct for their accuracy and significance, for possible motives and with regard to possibilities of dispelling the allegations. Impartial counselors are sworn to secrecy.
  5. The impartial counselors are to be named in the personnel and course catalog / manual of the Hamburg University of Technology.

§ 5

  1. To investigate allegations of scientific misconduct a Commission is to be established. It will consist of the two longest-serving members of the Council of Elders and the impartial counselors. The Commission elects a chairperson from its ranks and may, from case to case, call up to three other persons as experts in an advisory capacity. If there is any concern that a Commission member and member of the Council of Elders might be in conflict of interest or it cannot be ruled out that he or she might be subject to investigation on account of his or her other position at the University in respect of the misconduct reported, his or her place in the Commission shall be taken by the next long-serving member of the Council of Elders. The same shall apply if a Commission member and member of the Council of Elders is unable to perform his or her duties in the Commission or has submitted his or her resignation from the Commission in writing to the chair of the Commission.
  2. The Commission’s hearings are not held in public; Section 80 para. 5 of the Hamburg Universities Act shall remain unaffected. The Commission is sworn to secrecy. Resolutions are passed by a simple majority.

§ 6
Procedure in Cases of Scientific Misconduct

  1. If the impartial counselors receive reports of scientific misconduct, they will arrange with the University President for the Commission to be convened. The Commission is informed in writing about the allegations subject to confidentiality in order to protect the informant and the person accused of misconduct.
  2. The Commission is entitled to obtain the information and statements required to clarify the situation and, as the case requires, to call in expert referees from the subject area in question along with other experts. The Commission will check in free assessment of the evidence whether scientific misconduct has occurred.
  3. The person concerned shall be notified without delay of incriminating facts and, where applicable, evidence. The informant’s name will only be revealed to the person concerned if the informant has previously given his or her consent thereto. The person concerned and the informant are to be given an opportunity to submit statements; upon their request they must also be given a hearing. Statements are to be submitted within two weeks.
  4. If, after evaluating the statements or the hearing, the Commission concludes that the person concerned cannot defend him- or herself properly without knowing the identity of the informant because, say, the credibility or the motives of the informant are of material importance for establishing the possible misconduct the informant’s name shall be revealed to the person concerned. The person concerned shall at the same time be called upon to submit a supplementary statement within two weeks and may, on request, be given a hearing. The informant shall not suffer any disadvantage from reporting possible misconduct unless he or she has made fraudulent misrepresentations in respect of the behavior reported.
  5. Four weeks after receipt of the last statement as per paragraph 3 or 4 (above) or after expiration of the statement deadline, the Commission will submit its report to the University President with a recommendation on the further course of action. At the same time it will notify the person concerned and the informant of the principal findings of its investigation.
  6. The University President will decide on the basis of the Commission’s report and its recommendation whether the proceedings can be terminated or scientific misconduct has been adequately proven. In the latter case the University President will decide what action is to be taken. If the suspicion of scientific misconduct has been wrongly alleged, the University President shall ensure that the person concerned is rehabilitated.

(As of July 2009)

You will find the current (DFG) ombudspersons on the Contact page.