Rules to Ensure Good Scientific Practice at GSI and Procedures in Case of Scientific Misconduct

Status: 16 June 2005


In 1997, the Executive Board of the German Research Foundation (DFG) convened an international commission on "Self-regulation in Science". In January 1998, this commission presented proposals for safeguarding good scientific practice. The recommendations are addressed to the German Research Foundation (DFG) and other research funding agencies as well as to scientific institutions, universities and non-university research institutions.

On the basis of these proposals, the Hermann von Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres (HGF) presented rules for "Ensuring Good Scientific Practice and Procedures in the Case of Scientific Misconduct", which were adopted by the General Assembly on 9 September 1998. The legally independent member institutions of the Helmholtz Association were asked to fill out these rules, taking into account their particularities, and to bring about the necessary resolutions by the responsible bodies.

The Scientific Directorate of GSI has adopted the rules decided by the HGF as well as the complete regulation of the DFG and, after detailed discussion, decided on 17 February 1999 to declare the HGF paper of 9 September 1998 and the recommendation of the German Research Foundation "Proposals for ensuring good scientific practice" of 6 July 1998 completely and directly binding for GSI. The Scientific Council and the Supervisory Board were informed about this.

After we were made aware by the HGF that the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany has called for its own rules to be issued, GSI complies with these calls without delay. GSI closely follows the recommendations of the DFG and HRK of 6 July 1998.

GSI considers the proposals of the DFG and the HGF to be a good basis for ensuring good scientific practice and for the procedure to be followed in cases of scientific misconduct.
In the following, principles, procedures and responsibilities are defined for GSI. Unless statements are made on specific aspects, GSI directly adopts the rules formulated by the DFG and HGF.


Good scientific practice at GSI is based in particular on the following aspects and principles:

  •     Excellence, innovation, originality and quality
  •     Compliance with relevant laws and regulations
  •     Sense of responsibility for scientific work
  •     Comprehensible documentation and publication of results
  •     Critical evaluation of own scientific work with regard to procedures, results, known relevant scientific work of others and consequences
  •     Archiving
  •     Implementation of the principle of unity of research and teaching
  •     Consideration of the principles of good scientific practice in honours, appointments, funding measures, allocation of funds, etc....

Rule 1

The member institutions of the Hermann von Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres (HGF) define - taking into account international and national preparatory work - rules of good scientific practice for their field and declare them to be the basis of their research policy.

Deviations from the good scientific practice defined in this way are to be regarded as scientific misconduct.

Scientific misconduct may include in particular:

  •     Fabrication and falsification of data;
  •     False statements in applications, funding proposals, publications, etc.;
  •     Infringement of intellectual property by
    •         Unauthorised exploitation with presumption of authorship (plagiarism) as well as presumption or unfounded assumption of scientific authorship or co-authorship
    •         Exploitation of others' unpublished scientific ideas or research approaches (theft of ideas)
    •         Publishing or making available without the consent of the person entitled to do so;
  •     Damaging, destroying or manipulating scientific experimental set-ups.

For the rules of good scientific practice, GSI refers additionally to the memorandum of the German Research Foundation "Ensuring good scientific practice" of 1998 and a supplementary explanation of the DFG, which was sent to GSI by letter of 23.7.2001. This DFG memorandum can be consulted and borrowed from the GSI library.

In the case of publications, GSI's area of responsibility is limited to those research groups in which GSI staff are involved as authors, for which GSI appears as institutional author and which are subject to control by GSI management. Specifically, GSI is the institutional author for all orange GSI reports.

Each author bears full responsibility for the content of the respective publication, i.e. he/she cannot subsequently distance himself/herself from the content of the publication.

In case of damage or manipulation of equipment, software, databases, scientific documents etc. on the GSI premises, an investigation will be carried out by GSI in any case, taking into account legal regulations.

In addition to the rules mentioned in the HGF paper, the following points are pointed out for GSI to observe:

  •     Exclusion of honorary authorships (see Recommendation 11 of the DFG).
  •     Priority of originality and quality over quantity in the evaluation of scientific achievements (see Recommendation 6).
  •     Ensuring appropriate organisation of scientific work units with clear regulation of performance, supervision, conflict regulation and quality assurance (see Recommendation 3).

Rule 2

The member institutions have a special responsibility for young scientists. They are taught these principles of good scientific practice. Appropriate supervision shall be ensured for young scientists. For cases of conflict, one or more persons of trust shall be appointed.

Young scientists are understood to be doctoral and post-doctoral students paid by GSI. The confidential counsellors provided for in Rule 4 shall be available for cases of conflict.

Rule 3

Primary data that are the basis of a scientific publication shall be kept on durable and secured storage of the institution in which they originated for at least 10 years.

The 10-year period starts with the publication of the data. For practical reasons, this rule can only be applied to scientific data stored at GSI. If data are stored outside GSI, which is the rule to a large extent in the field of accelerator research, the institute concerned is responsible in accordance with the DFG guidelines. This will be pointed out in the collaboration agreements in the future.

Rule 4

In dealing with allegations of scientific misconduct, the member institutions shall be guided by the following key points; in addition, Recommendation 8 of the German Research Foundation shall serve as a framework for orientation.

   1. One or more contact persons should be appointed for questions of scientific misconduct. He/she should have a leading position and act independently in this task.

    The Scientific Directorate shall appoint a person of trust and his/her deputy as contact persons. He/she shall be the Chairperson of the Scientific Committee and his/her deputy. The two persons must be confirmed by the Scientific Council and the Scientific Committee. The names of the persons shall be made public in an appropriate manner.

    2. In case of suspicion of scientific misconduct, the contact person (number 1) shall be informed. The contact person shall take the steps he/she deems appropriate to clarify the facts. The contact person shall at the same time inform the scientific representative of the member institution.

    The following procedure applies to GSI:

    a. If the confidential counsellor becomes aware of suspicions of academic misconduct, he/she shall take appropriate steps to clarify the facts. He/she shall decide whether the case should be pursued further, taking into account Rule 1. The name of a possible informant may only be disclosed with his or her consent.

    b. The request for a review of a case of academic misconduct may be addressed to the management or the confidential counsellor.

    c. The confidential counsellor shall conduct a preliminary review of the case. In the case of concrete suspicions, the person of trust may hear the persons concerned (applicant, person affected by the suspicion). The confidential counsellor decides on further steps or termination of the proceedings.

    If an investigation is deemed appropriate, the confidential counsellor shall inform the management.

    3. The Directors/Management Board decides on the further course of action on the basis of a report by the contact person.

    The management decides on the further course of action.

    4. In the event of further clarification of the facts, the Executive/Management Board may appoint an investigative commission whose deliberations are not public. It shall be chaired by a person agreed upon by the HGF institutions. This person should not be a member of the HGF.

    In the event of further clarification, the Scientific Directorate shall set up a commission whose deliberations shall not be public. If possible, its members should not be GSI staff members. The person of trust participates as a guest. The person appointed for all HGF facilities should chair the commission. The accused person or group has the right to be heard.

    If the preliminary examination reveals concrete grounds for suspicion and a further investigation has been decided by the person of trust, the management will be notified of the opening of the formal investigation procedure. The confidential counsellor shall involve the commission appointed by the Scientific Directorate. This commission is responsible for the investigation and can initiate all steps necessary for the investigation, in particular the involvement of external experts. The confidential counsellor is a member of the commission in an advisory capacity.

    The person of trust identifies all those persons involved in the case and advises those who may have been affected by the misconduct through no fault of their own.

    The commission shall deliberate in closed session. The scientist affected by the suspicion shall be given the opportunity to comment. If the Commission considers misconduct to be unproven, the proceedings shall be discontinued. If the Commission considers misconduct to be proven, he/she shall submit the result to the Executive Board with proposals for further action and possible measures.

    The documents of the formal investigation are archived for 30 years.

    5. The investigative commission shall submit a written final report to the Management Board of the member institution. The Management Board shall take the necessary measures.

    The investigative commission shall submit a written final report to the Management Board and the Scientific Directorate. The accused group may submit a statement on this. In the event of an appropriate outcome of the formal investigation, the Management Board shall initiate measures against those responsible for the misconduct on the basis of the commission's recommendations, which may include both the aspect of preventing renewed misconduct and personal punishment. If necessary, further measures of an employment, civil, disciplinary, criminal or regulatory nature are initiated by the competent bodies with corresponding procedures. In case of termination, the applicant has the right to appear before the Commission within two weeks.

In the event of discrepancies in the views on the procedure between the confidant and the Management/Scientific Directorate, the confidant may appeal to the GSI Scientific Council.