Responsibility and Integrity in Research

Art and science, research and teaching are free. (Art. 5 Abs. 3 GG)

According to Article 5 of the Constitution research in Germany is free: Except for laws that prevent violations of the constitution, the responsibility for the conduct of research and for the use of the research results lies with each researcher.

Free research is the basis for progress and innovation. At the same time the absence of external control holds many dangers, e.g. possible violations of the rules of good scientific practice or the improper use of research results. Bielefeld University supports its members with questions regarding good scientific practice in research and teaching as well as regarding handling security-relevant research.


Good Scientific Practice in Teaching and Research

Bielefeld University sees the safeguarding of good scientific practice as a central task of all of its members and affiliates in teaching and research.

To safeguard good scientific practice Bielefeld University agreed in 2000 on the "Grundsätze zur Sicherung guter wissenschaftlicher Praxis an der Universität Bielefeld" [Principles to safeguard good scientific practice at Bielefeld University]. These are based on the respective guidelines of the German Research Foundation DFG and the German Rektor’s Conference HRK (in German).

Scientific good practice is violated when false statements are made in relation to science either intentionally or through gross negligence and if the intellectual property of others is infringed or their research impaired. False statements can be the distortion and fabrication of data, or untrue information supplied for a funding or job application. An infringement of intellectual property occurs due to unauthorised usage under the assumption of authorship or coauthorship (plagiarism), theft of ideas, publishing or making available unpublished texts, hypothese or research papers to third parties. A more detailed list can be found in the already mentioned: "Grundsätzen zur Sicherung guter wissenschaftlicher Praxis an der Universität Bielefeld" [Principles to safeguard good scientific practice at Bielefeld University].


As Bielefeld University is firmly committed to the principles of good scientific practice in research, teaching and the promotion of young academics, it has adopted various organisational and content related measures in these areas as well as precautions to safeguard them.

 

Research

Bielefeld University aims to become a site of excellent and renowned national and international research. All scientists therefore should understand and adhere to the principles of good scientific practice in their research. On the career path to becoming independent researchers, young academics should receive support from their supervisors to be sensitised and adhere to good scientific practice. Bielefeld University sees the safeguarding of scientific standards of quality in research, especially certainty and truthfulness, as a task of utmost importance.

If questions arise concerning good scientific practice or if there is suspicion of scientific misconduct the first point of call for members, affiliates and, in particular, the researchers is an ombudsperson, who will handle all information confidentially. Accusations of suspected scientific misconduct will be examined by the ombudsperson for plausibility on aspects of certainty and implication. The ombudsperson also advises researchers who have become unwittingly involved in scientific misconduct, with regards to safeguarding their personal and scientific integrity.

If the suspicion of scientific misconduct becomes more concrete, then the ombudsperson will pass on the allegations to an Investigative Commission . This commission looks into cases of scientific misconduct that have been submitted and resolves them. It examines whether there is evidence of misconduct or not.

Contact person:
Ombudsperson in an advisory and supporting role when scientific misconduct is suspected:
Prof. em. Dr. Ansgar Beckermann: ansgar.beckermann@uni-bielefeld.de

For general questions on good scientific practice:
Vice-Rector for Research, Young Researchers and Equal Opportunities:
Prof. Dr. Martin Egelhaaf: prorektorat-forschung@uni-bielefeld.de

   

Teaching

From the start of their studies, students should also be familiarised with the principles of good scientific practice, so that they can observe them in early on in seminar papers and, at the latest, in their theses. During their studies, students are taught the principles of scientific work and good scientific practice. This is to place preventative measures at the fore in order to prevent scientific misconduct.


Faculties and graduate schools as well as the central Department of Teaching, Learning, and Student Counselling Service  [Zentrum für Lehren und Lernen | ZLL] and the University Library offer courses on different aspects of good scientific practice.

In order to safeguard good scientific practice in teaching, the Rektorat and Senate have agreed on the paper: "Gute wissenschaftliche Praxis bei schriftlichen Arbeiten von Studierenden an der Universität Bielefeld" [Good Scientific Practice in Written Work by Students at Bielefeld University].

In the first instance, the responsibility of evaluating whether the author of a seminar paper or a BA or MA thesis has violated good scientific practice lies with the teaching staff who assess the work, or with the respective examiner and examination board. Violation of established scientific regulations will be dealt with according to the corresponding examination rules.


In the text "Plagiate - Voraussetzungen und Sanktionen" [Plagiarism – Conditions and Sanctions] typical conditions and manifestations of plagiarism are explained, as well as possible sanctions in such cases.

To evaluate dissertations, the software turnitin is available to teaching staff at Bielefeld University.

 

Contact person:
In the case of questions specific to faculty within the framework of teaching and study, please contact the dean of studies of the particular faculty


For general questions and concerns general to all faculties within the framework of teaching and study please contact: Vice Rector for Study and Research:
Prof.in Dr. Claudia Riemer: prorektorat-lehre@uni-bielefeld.de  

  

Doctoral studies

To safeguard consistent standards of quality in doctoral procedures, Bielefeld University agreed on the  General Regulation of Doctoral Studies (RPO) on 15.06.2010, which are supplemented and specified with the regulations of doctoral studies of each of the faculties.

To safeguard consistent standards of quality in doctoral procedures, Bielefeld University agreed on the General Regulation of Doctoral Studies (RPO) on 15.06.2010, which are supplemented and specified with the regulations of doctoral studies of each of the faculties. The RPO is intended to facilitate high standards and transparency independently from the form of doctorate (structured or free doctoral programme) by establishing standards across faculties. These measures include, in particular, the admission of the doctoral student to a faculty at an early stage and a binding supervision agreement. Supervisors should offer comprehensive advice and support to young researchers at Bielefeld University so they can adhere to good scientific practice. To this end, in 2010 the "Leitlinien für die Betreuung von Promotionen" [Guidelines on the supervision of doctoral studies] was agreed upon. Doctoral students who encounter problems in regard to supervision can go to a confidential representative.


Violations of recognised scientific regulations will be dealt with according to the stipulation in the particular doctoral regulation. Teaching staff at Bielefeld University can use the software turitin to assist with the validation of dissertations.

Contact person:
In the case of questions specific to faculty within the framework of doctoral procedures: PHD board for particular faculty

In critical or confidencial problems between supervisor and doctoral student: Representative for supervision of doctoral studies:
Prof'in. Dr. Barbara Hammer, bhammer@techfak.uni-bielefeld.de;
Prof. Dr. Franz-Josef Arlinghaus, franz.arlinghaus@uni-bielefeld.de

For general questions relevant to all faculties on doctoral studies:
Vice Rector for Research, Young Researchers and Equal Opportunities:
Prof. Dr. Martin Egelhaaf, prorektorat-forschung@uni-bielefeld.de

 

Ethics in Research

The freedom of science and research is protected by the German Constitution and a prerequisite for progress and innovation in basic and applied research. In many scientific fields there is the danger of developing knowledge, products and technologies that pose a risk to human dignity, life, freedom, property or the environment or that could even be immediately misused by a third party. As a result researchers have to balance their academic freedom and the responsibility for their research when they are planning and carrying out their projects.

At Bielefeld University researchers with questions regarding handling security-relevant research can consult the Commission for Research and Young Researchers.

The Commission for Research and Young Researchers performs the tasks of a research ethics committee as required in the statement Scientific Freedom and Scientific Responsibility. Recommendations for Handling Security-Relevant Research by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. The tasks of the Commission are set out in the "Regulations concerning Ethics in Research" (Regelungen zum Verfahren bei Fragen der Ethik sicherheitsrelevanter Forschung, 29.07.2017, in German):

  • Deliberation and consultation of questions regarding handling security-relevant research: If researchers anticipate security-related risks while planning or carrying out their research projects, the Commission provides advice. The Commission makes recommendations, possibly suggests modifications or additional requirements.
  • Raising awareness for ethical and security-relevant aspects of research

It is necessary to distinguish between the tasks of the Commission and the Ethics Committee. The Ethics Committee examines whether research proposal are in accordance with ethical principles concerning the protection of human rights as well as the autonomy and self-determination of the people who are part of the research and issues statements for individual research proposals.

Contact person:

Prof. Dr. Martin Egelhaaf, Vice Rector for Research, Young Researchers and Equal Opportunities, Head of the Commission for Research and Young Researchers