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  • Research Profile

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Responsibility and Integrity in Research

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.

Art and science, research and teaching are free.

(Art. 5 Abs. 3 GG)

Good Scientific Practice in Teaching and Research

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

In order to safeguard good research practice, Bielefeld University adopted the guidelines and rules of procedure listed below in 2021, which correspond with the DFG’s stipulations set out in their Code of Conduct: “Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Research Practice".

These replace the previous “Principles to Safeguard Good Research Practice at Bielefeld University” agreed on 2 February 2000 and will be binding for all members and staff of Bielefeld University from 1 March 2021.

Scientific integrity forms the basis for trustworthy research. It is the responsibility of researchers therefore to observe the expected standards and underlying principles in respect of their own work and to stand up for these values. The fundamental principles and standards of good research practice needs to be instilled at the earliest possible stage of academic teaching and research training. At all career levels, researchers should regularly update their knowledge about the standards of good research practice and the current state of research.

Scientific misconduct can be defined as the misrepresentation of research findings either knowingly or through gross negligence, or when research achievements of others are claimed as one’s own or if the research activities of others are compromised, in a research-relevant context. The circumstances of the individual case are decisive. For more detailed information, please refer to the previously mentioned Guidelines and Rules of Procedure to Safeguard good Research Practice at Bielefeld University (§17).

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. In the event that the ombudsperson is prevented from attending, there is a person who takes over as deputy.

Persons to contact:
Acting as an advisory and supportive ombudsperson in cases of suspected academic misconduct:
Prof. Dr. Christoph Gusy: christoph.gusy@uni-bielefeld.de
Deputy Ombudsperson:
apl. Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Eisfeld: wolfgang.eisfeld@uni-bielefeld.de

For general questions on good scientific practice:
Vice-Rector for Science and Society:
Prof.'in Dr. Alexandra Kaasch, prorektorat.wissenschaft-gesellschaft@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.

 

Persons to contact:
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:
Professor Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-rector for Education and Teaching

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_guter_Betreuung_UniBi.pdf [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.

 

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

In critical or confidential 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:
Professor Marie I. Kaiser, Vice-rector for Personnel Development and Gender Equality, prorektorat-personalentwicklung@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.

 

Persons to contact:

Professor Angelika Epple, Vice-Rector for Research and International Affairs: pro-fi@uni-bielefeld.de

Prof‘in Dr. Marie I. Kaiser, Vice-Rector for Personnel Development and Gender Equality: prorektorat-personalentwicklung@uni-bielefeld.de


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