Quality Assurance & Enhancement
Code of Good Academic Practice and Regulations on Academic Misconduct at the Federal Institute for Population Research (BIB)
In its guiding principles, the Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB), a research facility funded by the Federal Government as a subordinate office of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, has declared the independence and impartiality of academic research as well as the code of good academic practice as the foundation of its academic work.
For the implementation of these fundamental ethical principles, the BiB has built on the memorandum of the German Research Foundation (DFG), entitled “Ensuring good academic practice”, from 1998. It furthermore borrowed many features from corresponding guidelines and principles of other government-funded research facilities in order to compile the following regulations to ensure good academic practice and effectiveness in dealing with academic misconduct. These regulations are binding for the BiB’s staff, contracted employees, guest researchers and users of data as well as for the authors of the publications of the Federal Institute for Population Research.
Independence, professionalism, sincerity and transparency are indispensible prerequisites of academic work, if this aims to serve the production of knowledge and to be accepted and respected by society as a whole. All researchers are to take personal responsibility for their academic approach, which must be oriented towards the overall concept of good academic practice. Breaches of these principles are to be strictly reprimanded, but should at the same time be distinguished from academic error, which is not always avoidable, even when the principles of good academic practice are considered.
1 The Code of Good Academic Practice
1.1 General Principles of Academic Work
- Work shall be carried out according to the principle of lege artis: Academic activities shall be implemented in line with the legal regulations, ethical standards and current status of research.
- Results and methodological approaches are to be clearly documented. This includes the reliable back up and safekeeping of primary sources (cf. 1.4).
- Results shall be subjected to consistent critical doubt and inquiry. Academic results may not be immunised against criticism.
- Stringent honesty is to be applied in regard to contributions made by colleagues. The academic work of others is not to be hindered and, if it is referred to, must be suitably cited.
- It should be ensured that young researchers are provided with responsible supervision.
- Criticism and doubts expressed by colleagues are to be respected; colleagues’ work is to be reviewed selflessly and impartially, and reviewing shall not to be carried out in case of a conflict of interest.
- The principle of the public nature of fundamental research is to be respected, i.e. results obtained by means of public funds shall in any case be published.
- Academic misconduct shall be avoided in the working environment, and the principles of good academic practice shall be adhered to in all cases.
Violations of these regulations are to be strictly punished, particularly including
- manipulation, fabrication or falsification of data,
- concealment, ignorance or deliberate misrepresentation of one’s own or others’ research results,
- impairment of others’ research projects through manipulation or sabotage,
- breach of trust as a reviewer or superior, e.g. by delaying the publications of others or unauthorisedly passing texts to third parties prior to publication,
- defiance of the intellectual property of others (plagiarism), this referring not only to published works, but also to ideas, methods, groundwork and research approaches, and also applying to false or unclear information on the authorship and co-authorship of works, and
- aiding and abetting in or cognisance of the academic misconduct of others.
1.2 Cooperation and Leadership Responsibility in Work Groups
The institutional director, research group leaders, project leaders and project coordinators in particular carry the responsibility to observe the compliance with regulations as well as the quality assurance of academic work. Within their area of responsibility, they shall ensure that these tasks are carried out and that these regulations are adhered to.
1.3 Supervision of Young Researchers
Those responsible for the supervision of young researchers (students, interns, doctoral candidates and post-docs) have the task of imparting the regulations on good academic practice and ensuring that they are complied with.
1.4 Safeguarding and Storage of Primary Data
Data and all other documents which are necessary for understanding the research process, as well as published research results which have not yet been published or archived by other institutions, must be stored for at least ten years. The BiB may delegate this obligation, for instance by transferring datasets and documents to archives (e.g. GESIS).
1.5 Academic Publications
The code of good academic practice is binding for all publications of the BiB and applies to all parties involved in the publication process, including both internal and external (co-)authors as well as reviewers, publishers, editors and members of advisory boards. If members of the BiB take on one of the aforementioned or similar functions in the interest of third party publications, these rules also apply analogously to these activities.
Authors are jointly responsible for the content of their academic publications. By approving proofs for publication, the authors declare that they assume responsibility for the content and any further obligations associated with the publication (e.g. compliance with authors’ guidelines and regulations on good academic practice in line with the provisions of the present document, contractual obligations vis-à-vis third parties, e.g. editors or publishing houses, statutory provisions etc.).
Authors bear responsibility for ensuring that they own all the rights to their publications (e.g. legal rights of use and publication rights for data) and that they only use third-party content (e.g. copyrighted data, illustrations, texts etc.) within the statutory provisions and granted rights of use. Such contents must be marked as quotes and with sources, and holders of the copyright must be acknowledged where necessary.
Teams of authors appoint a corresponding author and empower him/her to submit all declarations necessary for publication in their name, in particular approval of the proofs for publication. Here, the corresponding author must obtain the authorisations of his/her co-authors.
Honorary authorship is to be ruled out as a matter of principle. The acquisition of project funds or the provision of work materials, data etc. does not justify a right to co-authorship. The same applies to editorial work, proof-reading or general advisory functions, as carried out in the context of supervisions of young researchers, or the approval of a publication as a supervisor or project leader.
Only those who have made their own creative contribution to the research work can be appointed co-authors of a publication. This refers not only to the collection of data, implementation of analyses and the drafting of texts, but can also include project and analysis ideas, methods, preliminary work, research approaches etc., provided that they constitute a major contribution to the publication. Contributions towards a publication which do not constitute a creative contribution of their own, such as funding, cooperation on a project, providing data, groundwork, advice etc., can be documented in the form of an acknowledgement.
1.6 Performance and Evaluation Criteria
The performance and evaluation criteria for promotions, appointments and performance evaluations are established at the BiB in such a way that originality and quality always take precedence before quantity as evaluation standards.
1.7 Assignment of an Ombudsman
As a contact person in cases of conflict and in cases of questions regarding good academic practice, an ombudsman is assigned. The adjunct director is appointed as the ombudsman. According to the decree on the establishment of the BiB, the head of the department responsible for population statistics at the Federal Statistical Office is acting as the adjunct director and therefore is neutral and independent towards the managing director of the BiB. In case of allegations regarding the violation of good academic practice, the ombudsman is the first point of contact and carries out the preliminary investigation as well as possible further proceedings (see 2.1).
2 Dealing with Academic Misconduct
2.1 Procedure for Dealing with Allegations of Academic Misconduct
In case of conflicts, including the presumption of academic misconduct, the BiB’s staff shall turn to the ombudsman. The latter then initiates a preliminary investigation.
In the proceedings of the preliminary investigation, the ombudsman hears the allegations and the position of the accused in a strictly confidential conversation and in doing so, he investigates the facts and events shortly after having been made aware of the allegations (plausibility check). In this phase, the protection of the allegedly innocent person has to be the priority. At the end of the preliminary investigation, the ombudsman decides whether further investigations shall be initiated or whether the allegations have proven unfounded.
If the allegation has proven true, the ombudsman initiates the main investigation. The ombudsman appoints a committee composed of the members of the board of trustees (in the case of CPoS-authors, composed of the members of the scientific advisory board). The committee carries out the necessary investigations and the taking of evidence, formally assesses whether academic misconduct has occurred or not and presents written recommendations for action to the managing director. The ombudsman organises and moderates the committee, presents the facts and the status of the current investigation and passes on the results of the committee to the managing director. The ombudsman is, however, not a voting member of the committee. After the formal investigation, the managing director shall decide on the possible consequences.
The main investigation as well as the subsequent decision shall occur within a reasonable time frame and shall be documented in form of a protocol.
The right to be heard must be granted to the person concerned. He or she can request to be heard in person, so can the informant in case of any counterstatements he or she may have. The right of the parties involved to access the records is subject to the general regulations. The parties involved in the investigation are given access to personal and confidential information to the extent that the investigation order requires it. The investigation shall be kept confidential as long as there is no proof of misconduct.
The conflict of interest of an investigator may be declared by the investigator him-/herself or by the accused at any time during the preliminary or main investigation. The ombudsman as well as the members of the investigation committee are regarded as the investigators.
These proceedings are subject to legal reservations.
2.2 Consequences of Academic Misconduct
Academic misconduct and/or a breach of the regulations on good academic practice can have consequences under labour law and civil service law, under study regulations as well as under criminal or civil law in accordance with the respective valid legal provisions.
Articles in publications of the BiB which, according to provisions contained in the present document, were drafted and submitted in disregard of the regulations on good academic practice, the authors’ guidelines or statutory provisions may be temporarily or permanently withdrawn and/or deleted by the publisher, even without the consent of the authors and, where appropriate, prior to the completion of an examination by an investigating committee. This also applies to articles which might jeopardise the reputation of the BiB or other important reasons. Authors are obliged to promptly recall or withdraw articles if they become aware of facts and circumstances which suggest that publication has not been carried out according to the regulations, in particular where there have been errors in content or, in accordance with the provisions contained in the present document, breaches of the regulations on good academic practice, the authors’ guidelines or statutory provisions. If articles are submitted which refer to an institution, the latter will be informed by the publishers in the case of an article being recalled or withdrawn. If articles are recalled or withdrawn, this will be published, where appropriate stating the facts and circumstances, and external partners (catalogues, databases and search engines) will be informed accordingly.
Wiesbaden, 13th of August 2013
Director of the Federal Institute for Population Research
Prof. Dr. Norbert F. Schneider