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Guidelines to Ensure Good Academic Practice and for Handling Academic Misconduct in Teaching and Research

Ombudsman: Prof. Dr. Vikram Unnithan, v.unnithan [at] (Contact)
Deputy: Prof. Dr. Klaus Boehnke, k.boehnke [at] (Contact)
1. Preliminary remarks
The following guidelines are based on the recommendations issued by the German Rectors’ Conference on "The Handling of Academic Misconduct at Universities" of July 1998, which are in turn based on the resolutions passed in November 1997, by the Senate of the Max Planck Society under the heading "Procedure in Cases of Suspected Academic Misconduct at Research Institutes Subject to the Max Planck Society Rules of Procedure." They are supplemented by recommendations from the "Proposals to Ensure Good Academic Practice" issued by the German Research Foundation (DFG) in December 1997. Formulations from the above-mentioned texts have been included in the following guidelines in some cases verbatim and in other cases indirectly. The guidelines are in harmony with the Jacobs University Bremen's Code of Academic Integrity.
References to persons and functions in this text are to be taken as including both the male and female gender.
2. General
In order to meet its research obligations and to fulfill its directly associated responsibilities in the areas of teaching and the advancement of young academics, the University must, within the legal framework, take measures to provide for the handling of academic misconduct so as to ensure that expectations are satisfied and that neither taxpayer’s money nor private donations are misused.
3. Academic misconduct
Academic misconduct will be held to have been committed if, in the course of academic work, false statements are made either deliberately or by gross negligence, the intellectual property rights of others are infringed or their research work is sabotaged in any other way. Misconduct may in particular be represented by the following:
a) false statements
  • the invention of data
  • the falsification of data, e.g.
  1. by the selection and rejection of results not desired, without disclosing this
  2. by manipulating a presentation or illustration
  • the supply of incorrect information in an application for an appointment or for funding (including false statements about a publication in which work appears or about work currently in print);
b) infringement of intellectual property rights
  • in connection with work or substantial academic discoveries, hypotheses, theories or research approaches produced by someone else and protected by copyright:
  • unauthorised use, purporting to be the author (plagiarism),
  • the exploitation of research approaches and ideas, in particular in the capacity of an expert (theft of ideas),
  • purporting to be the academic author, or unjustified assumption of co-authorship,
  • the falsification of content,
  • the deliberate delaying of the publication of academic work, in particular in the capacity of a publisher or expert, or
  • unauthorised publication or unauthorised disclosure to third parties as long as the piece of work, the discovery, the hypothesis, the theory or the research approach has not yet been published;
c) a claim to another's (co-)authorship without his permission;
d) the sabotaging of research work (including the damaging, destruction or manipulation of test set-ups, equipment, documentation, hardware, software, chemicals, cell and microorganism cultures or any other items required by another person for the conducting of an experiment);
e) the elimination or removal of original data where this breaches statutory regulations or recognised principles of academic work relating to matters of discipline.
Joint responsibility for misconduct may, for example, be incurred by
  • participating in others' misconduct,
  • co-authorship of falsified publications,
  • gross failure to fulfill supervisory obligations.
4. Individual provisions
1. All those engaged in academic work are under an obligation to adhere to the rules of good academic practice. These rules should form an integral part of the training of young academics. In the case of research projects this is the duty of the person in charge of the project.
2. All staff with supervisory responsibility must, by the appropriate organisation of their areas of work, ensure that management, supervisory, conflict settlement and quality assurance duties are clearly allocated and that they are actually performed.
3. Particular attention must be paid to the training and advancement of young academics. Appropriate supervision/support must be provided, including regular consultative meetings and monitoring of the progress of work.
4. The person in charge of a research project must ensure that original data on which publications are based is stored for ten years using durable, secured storage media. This does not affect any more far-reaching storage obligations imposed by statute or measures required for the protection of data relating to individuals.
5. The authors of an academic publication bear joint responsibility for its contents. Any exceptions should be made clear. All academic workers who have made substantial contributions to the idea, planning, implementation or analysis of research work should be given the opportunity to be named as co-author. Those who made small contributions should be mentioned in the acknowledgements.
5. Procedure if academic misconduct is suspected
1. On the recommendation of the Academic Council, the President will appoint an ombudsman and a deputy who can both be approached by people at the University. The Ombudsman will provide confidential advice to those who inform him that academic misconduct is suspected. He will examine the plausibility of the allegations. The Ombudsman will be appointed for one year and reappointment will be possible.
2. The Ombudsman will report to the President annually.
3. A standing commission for the investigation of allegations of academic misconduct will be appointed, to comprise:
  • the professors sitting on the Committee of Academic Integrity (CAI) of Jacobs University Bremen,
  • the Ombudsman and his deputy as guests performing an advisory function.
4. The term of office of Commission members will be 1 year and reappointment is possible. 
5. The Commission will take action in response to a request by the Ombudsman or by one of the Commission’s members.
6. If the Ombudsman is given information suggesting that academic misconduct has taken place, he will investigate the circumstances according to his best judgement. If he concludes that there are adequate grounds for suspecting academic misconduct he will notify the Commission.
7. The Commission will also take action if information suggesting that academic misconduct has taken place is supplied to it directly.
8. The Commission must do what it can to clarify the matter, and must report to the President. It shall decide the method to be used according to its best judgement. The legal right of the person concerned to be heard must be protected. He can ask to be given a personal hearing, as can the informant in the case of contradicting statements. The right of those involved to inspect files is as provided by the relevant general rules.