Good scientific practice

Sensitising scientists to the principles of good scientific practice and safeguarding adherence to them

What do we mean by this?

The rules of good scientific practice are universal principles that form the basis for ensuring the honesty, integrity, and professionalism of scientific work.

Research organisations are encouraged to create a culture of scientific integrity in order to ensure that their researchers adhere to the principles of good scientific practice and to avoid scientific misconduct – because dishonesty in science destroys society's trust as much as it destroys mutual trust between scientists.

According to the Proposals for Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice of the German Research Foundation (DFG), scientific organisations should be responsible for implementing binding rules at their own institution. They should follow universal principles such as:

  • working lege artis, according to the current state of science,
  • documenting results,
  • consistently questioning their own findings,
  • practicing strict honesty with regard to the contributions of partners, competitors, and predecessors,
  • securing and storing primary data for a period of ten years,
  • naming as authors and co-authors only those who have made a genuine, identifiable contribution to the content of a publication,
  • defining performance and assessment criteria that give originality and quality precedence before quantity.

The DFG Proposals for Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice furthermore include recommendations for establishing ombudsperson systems, dealing with whistleblowers, and standardised procedures to take when scientific misconduct is suspected.

How could a research organisation implement this?

  • Offer communication and training measures to specific target groups, for example, for sensitising new employees, young scientists, managers, and supervisors of scientific theses
  • Offer to perform plagiarism checks
  • Professionalise and expand the ombudsperson system, for example through continued training and networking opportunities
  • Establish organisational and procedural regulations for cases of suspicion and conflict
  • Provide technical solutions for documenting research data, for example via digital storage solutions and repositories

Practical examples

Scientific integrity at Fraunhofer

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft centrally promotes networking between the ombudspersons for good scientific practice at its institutes in order to discuss standards at Fraunhofer relating to "scientific integrity", best practices for training courses or procedures in the event of misconduct, and the role of the ombudsperson in standardising procedures.

Visit the website

Guidelines for Good Scientific Practice in the Leibniz Association

The Leibniz Association's Guidelines for Good Scientific Practice

The Association promotes networking, consulting, and continued education for the principles of good scientific practice. The General Assembly has developed Guidelines for Good Scientific Practice. These guidelines, which are binding for the institutes, define above all the role and authority of the association's central Ombuds Committee and the rules of procedure and sanctions available within the central investigation process.

Visit the website

Safeguarding good scientific practice and procedures in the event of scientific misconduct in the Helmholtz Association

The Helmholtz Association's recommendations on safeguarding good scientific practice

On 9 September 1998, the Assembly of Members of the Helmholtz Association issued recommendations on safeguarding good scientific practice and on procedures to follow in cases of scientific misconduct. These recommendations are based on the "Proposals for Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice", which were published by the DFG in 1998. The Helmholtz Association recommends that its legally independent Helmholtz Centres apply these principles and codes of practice while taking into account their specific situation.

Visit the website

Further information

European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity
Show details

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (2013): "Proposals for Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice" Show details

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (2015): "Leitlinien zum Umgang mit Forschungsdaten"
Show details

Wissenschaftsrat (2015): "Empfehlungen zu wissenschaftlicher Integrität. Positionspapier"
Show details [in German]

Sustainability reporting

DNK criteria

  • 20 Conduct that Complies with the Law and Policy

GRI standard disclosures

  • G4-56–58
  • G4-SO3–8