The German Research Ombudsman
Ombuds Committee for scientific integrity in Germany
The German Research Ombudsman (Ombudsman für die Wissenschaft) is a committee appointed by the German Research Foundation (DFG) that assists all scientists and researchers in Germany when it comes to questions and conflicts related to good scientific practice (GSP) and scientific integrity. The Ombuds Committee is supported in its deliberations and conflict mediation by an office that is located in Berlin.
The deliberations of the Ombudsman are orientated in line with the 19 “Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice” (see the DFG code of conduct, 2019). Everyone is free to contact either the German Research Ombudsman or a local ombudsperson at a university or non-university research institution.
As a matter of principle, the Ombudsman treats all enquiries neutrally, fairly and in strict confidence.
The Ombudsman provides confidential advice on matters of research integrity and in specific cases of conflict (including by telephone through the administrative office).
Where conflicts related to good scientific practice occur, the Ombudsman assists by means of solution-orientated conflict mediation, following the rules of GSP.
The Ombudsman organises events on good scientific practice, and regularly gives lectures on its own work (enquiries can be submitted at any time).
The Ombudsman networks at national and international level with experts in the sphere of scientific integrity. On the basis of its experience in individual cases, its makes an active contribution towards refining and updating the recommendations on GSP.
The office is the first point of contact for questions on research integrity. It initially advises enquirers by telephone if required. In the same way as the Ombudsman Committee, the staff of the Ombudsman’s office also treat all enquiries in strict confidence.
If enquiries are submitted to the office in writing, the office verifies that the documents are complete and forwards them to the members of the Committee. The office may first ask questions in order to clarify the facts put forward, or may ask for supporting documents.
Dr. Hjördis Czesnick (Head of Office)
Fanny Oehme, M.Sc.
Michaele Kahlert, M.A.
The Committee of the German Research Ombudsman is appointed by the Senate of the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, or DFG). The Committee operates on a voluntary basis. All enquiries are deliberated on jointly, and all assessments are reached jointly. It acts independently when giving advice and in its mediation. The DFG is not involved in the ombuds procedure, nor is it informed of the content of such proceedings.
The term of office of the members of the Ombuds Committee is four years; they can be re-appointed for further terms.
The current spokesperson of the Ombuds Committee is Professor Dr. Stephan Rixen.
Discussion Hubs to Foster Research Integrity
This project aims to develop, jointly with experts from various disciplines, detailed guidelines
on issues of authorship, research data as well as plagiarism to supplement the DFG Code of
Conduct “Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Research Practice”. The results will be
published on a DFG online platform to provide researchers and ombudspersons with
support in handling matters of research integrity and in preventing conflicts.