13:15 – 14:15 The German Research Ombudsman: An Instrument Dealing with Scientific Misconduct
Prof. Dr. Joachim Heberle, DFB Ombudsgremium für die Wissenschaft and Experimental Molecular Physics, FU Berlin
Several cases of misconduct have become public in the recent decades. As a consequence, the German Research Council investigated cases of severe scientific misconduct and the results were published as recommendations for Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice. The memorandum also suggested the installation of a national body of elected scientists: The German Research Ombudsman (www.ombudsman-fuer-die-wissenschaft.de). As a member of the committee, I will focus on the role and the works of the German Ombudsman in safeguarding good scientific practice.
There is growing interest in the extent to which distortions of scientific best practice increase the likelihood that published research findings are false. A range of systemic problems within science may contribute to this, such as flexibility in the analysis of data, selective reporting of study results, publication bias against null results, influence of vested (e.g., financial) interests, and distorted incentive structures. Several opportunities exist for improving the situation, including adjusting the incentive structures within which scientists operate, improving statistical and methodological training of scientists, encouraging collaboration and independent review of study designs, and promoting open science through the pre-registration of study protocols, open data and sharing of materials. Ultimately, this will serve to maximize the scientific value of research.
In this talk an introduction to Robert K. Merton's CUDOS model of the scientific process will be presented. From this we can derive a number of aspects of academic misconduct. The focus will be on plagiarism, self-plagiarism and honorary authorship, with examples shown from the plagiarism documentation work done by the German academic community VroniPlag Wiki. The presentation will close with a discussion of plagiarism avoidance techniques and procedures to follow in Germany if you observe academic misconduct.