Principles for Ensuring Good Research Practice

Based on the DFG Code "Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Research Practice", the TU Berlin has adopted a statute for safeguarding good research practice (Principles for Ensuring Good Research Practice, short GWP) together with explanatory implementation regulations.

This statute defines the principles of good scientific work at TU Berlin, creates instruments to safeguard them and codifies a procedure in the event of suspected scientific misconduct.

The “Guidelines on Authorship” is intended to serve as a working aid when publishing scientific texts.

Questions about good research practice are answered by the ombudspersons of the TU Berlin:

Please also contact the ombudspersons if you suspect scientific misconduct.

If the ombudspersons share your suspicions, they will forward the case to the Commission for the Investigation of Scientific Misconduct, which will examine and evaluate the allegations and submit a proposed resolution to the Executive Board.

Principles for Ensuring Good Research Practice at TU Berlin

On February 15, 2023, the Academic Senate of Technische Universität Berlin passed a resolution on the basis of Section 9, Paragraph 1, No. 5 of the Basic Regulations of the Technische Universität Berlin in the version published on September 20, 2018 (AMBl. TU Berlin No. 19/2018, p. 182 ff.) in conjunction with. §§ 7a, 61 paragraph 2 No. 7 of the Law on Universities in the State of Berlin (Berlin Higher Education Act - BerlHG) in the version of July 26, 2011 (GVBl. p. 378), last amended by the Act of March 23, 2023 (GVBl. p. 121), the following statutes were adopted:*) *) Confirmed by the Presidential Board of the TU Berlin on 02.05.2023.


The members of TU Berlin regard the safeguarding of good academic practice in research and teaching as one of their highest goals and, in this regard, attach particular importance to young researchers. This Statute, which is oriented towards the corresponding recommendations of the German Research Foundation, shall serve the purpose of defining the principles of good academic practice and stipulating fair procedures in cases of suspected misconduct.

The basic principle of any academic work is honesty towards oneself and others. This principle is both an ethical standard and the foundation for the rules of academic professionalism – meaning, good academic practice – that differ from discipline to discipline. It is the core task of the university to convey these basic principles to the students and the academic staff. Compliance with, and implementation of, good academic practice is the prerequisite for distinguished and acknowledged academic work that must also seek to find recognition in a competitive international environment.

The procedures for bestowing academic degrees, for promotions, recruitments, appointments and the allocations of funds must be laid down in such a manner as to ensure that assessment criteria emphasizing originality and quality prevail at all times over those of quantity.

When joining Technische Universität Berlin, university members shall be expressly made aware of the validity and importance of this Statute and – insofar as this is possible – obligated to comply with it. This Statute is a constituent part of the teaching and training of young researchers.

TU Berlin will immediately investigate every specific case of suspected academic misconduct. In the event that, following investigation of the matter, a suspicion is confirmed, appropriate measures will be taken in each individual case.

Part I: Good Academic Practice

Section 1 Definition

The members of TU Berlin are obliged to comply with the basic principles of academic work, thereby ensuring the integrity of their activities, their honesty towards themselves and others, and their working, in particular,

  • in accordance with the state of the art (lege artis) of their discipline,
  • documenting processes and results in a transparent and appropriate manner,
  • retention of primary data,
  • adequately assessing and incorporating the contributions of partners, supervisees and competitors in publications,
  • and respecting the intellectual property of third parties.

Section 2 Research Organization

  1. The university management shall be responsible for an appropriate system of organization that ensures – depending on the size of the individual research groups – that the assignment of the tasks related to leadership, supervision, conflict management and quality assurance is clearly regulated. This responsibility may be delegated to the faculties and departments.
  2. Each head of a research group should act in an exemplary academic manner and shall be responsible for an appropriate system of organization that ensures that the tasks related to leadership, supervision, conflict management and quality assurance are clearly assigned, while guaranteeing that these tasks are actually performed. The university management must provide those responsible with the support required in this regard. Corresponding training and further education measures must be implemented.
  3. For each member of a research group, the head of the group shall name an experienced contact person from within the group who may be approached in cases of conflict.

Section 3 Teaching organization

Teaching the fundamentals of good scientific work begins at the earliest possible stage in academic teaching and scientific training

Section 4 Good research practice

  1. When planning a project, scientists take the current state of research into account comprehensively and acknowledge it. The identification of relevant and suitable research questions requires careful research into research achievements that have already been made publicly available. The TU Berlin ensures the necessary framework conditions for this.
  2. Researchers apply methods to avoid (unconscious) bias in the interpretation of findings, where possible, and consider the relevance of gender and diversity to the research project.
  3. Scientists handle the constitutionally granted freedom of research responsibly. They take into account rights and obligations, especially those resulting from legal requirements, but also from contracts with third parties. This applies in particular to the extent that third parties are granted rights of use to the research data. The granting of rights of use can never exclude the scientists' own right of use to the data they have collected. Once a decision has been made to make results publicly available, scientists must describe it fully and comprehensibly. The decision to make scientific results publicly available must not depend solely on third parties.
  4. With regard to research projects, a thorough assessment of the research consequences and the evaluation of the respective ethical aspects should be carried out. The legal framework of a research project also includes documented agreements on the rights of use of research data and research results arising from it.
  5. The research project must be reported within the framework of the electronic project announcement (ePA) and, if university resources are used, forwarded to the research department after approval by the institute and the faculty or higher-level institution.
  6. As far as research with personal data takes place, a data protection concept is prepared in consultation with the official data protection officer; if necessary, the research project is submitted to the responsible decentralized ethics committee for review and approval (ethics vote); if necessary, the BAFA officer (export control) must also be involved.
  7. In the case of animal experiments, the regulations of the Animal Protection Act must be complied with; in the case of animal experiments requiring approval, the approval of the competent authority must be submitted.
  8. To answer research questions, scientists apply scientifically sound and comprehensible methods. When developing and applying new methods, they attach particular importance to quality assurance and the establishment of standards in order to always ensure the comparability and transferability of research results.
  9. Scientists document all the information relevant to the achievement of a research result as comprehensibly as is necessary and appropriate in the discipline concerned in order to be able to check, replicate and evaluate the result. In principle, they therefore also document individual results that do not support the research hypothesis. A selection of results has to be refrained from in this context. If concrete professional recommendations exist for the review and evaluation, the scientists shall carry out the documentation in accordance with the requirements of § 8 [Safeguarding and preservation of primary data; archiving]. If the documentation does not meet these requirements, the limitations and the reasons for them are explained in a comprehensible manner. Documentation and research results must not be manipulated; they must be protected against manipulation as best as possible. The documentation must also completely and correctly identify own and external preparatory work.
  10. Any discrepancies in publications that are discovered subsequently must be corrected.

Section 5 Confidentiality and neutrality in assessments and consultations

  1. Scientists who evaluate submitted manuscripts, funding applications or the identification of persons are obliged to maintain strict confidentiality in this regard. The confidentiality of external content to which access is gained excludes disclosure to third parties and own use.
  2. Immediately after becoming aware of a possible bias or conflict of interest, all facts that could give rise to the concern of bias shall be disclosed to the competent body.
  3. The obligation to maintain confidentiality and to disclose facts that could give rise to concerns of bias also applies to members of scientific advisory and decision-making bodies.
  4. The Executivel Board may issue implementing regulations to govern the conduct of appointment procedures.

Section 6 Supervision of Young Researchers

Teaching the fundamentals of good scientific work begins at the earliest possible stage in academic teaching and scientific training.

Section 7 Performance and Assessment Criteria

Qualitative performance and assessment criteria shall at all times prevail over quantitative criteria. Assessors of qualification achievements shall be encouraged to acknowledge explicitly the originality and quality of a paper or thesis. In applications for academic positions, the applicant’s originality and quality shall be assessed higher than quantitative criteria. Faculties may limit the number of publications to be submitted as part of applications.

Section 8 Storage and Retention of Primary Data

Primary data that form the foundation of any academic publication shall be stored on durable and protected storage devices in the institution where they were generated for a period of ten years from the date of their publication. Information, by means of which a reference to a certain person may be reconstructed, must be stored separately; such information must be deleted as soon as the research purpose permits it (Section 30 (2) of the Berlin Data Protection Act – BlnDSG). The further storage and use of such information for the purpose of academic self-supervision shall be permissible for 10 years, provided that the data is passed on to an independent body (a so-called data trustee) for safekeeping. Those affected by such storage of their personal data must be informed about the reason for the storage, the period of storage and the protection measures taken during the storage, and their consent must be obtained prior to the collection of their personal data.   The records to be stored shall also include samples if they are indispensable for ascertaining the soundness of the scientific results achieved. In the event that storage in “physical form” is impossible, it must be safeguarded in another appropriate form. The storage obligation shall pertain to any objects, documents or data that would enable an expert to ascertain and comprehend the soundness of the scientific results.

Section 9 Authorship in Publications

Authors of academic publications shall at all times be jointly responsible for the publication contents. An author shall be defined as a person who has made a significant contribution to a publication; so-called honorary authorship shall be excluded. With regard to the sequence of authors, the particularities of each specialist discipline must be considered.

Part II: Academic Misconduct

Section 10 Ombudspeople (Confidential Mediators)

  1. The Presidential Board appoints an ombudsperson to whom the members of the TU Berlin can turn in questions of good research practice and in questions of suspected scientific misconduct. Scientists of integrity with management experience are selected as ombudspersons. Appointment is for four years. A one-time reappointment is possible.
  2. In order to avoid conflicts of interest, ombudspersons may not be a member of a central management body of their institution while holding this office.
  3. The TU Berlin ensures that the two ombudspersons are known and supported in their activities by the executive board.
  4. The ombudspersons advise as neutral and qualified contact persons in questions of good research practice and in suspected cases of scientific misconduct and contribute, as far as possible, to solution-oriented conflict mediation.
  5. Dismissal by the executive board is possible if there are serious reasons. A serious reason is, in particular, if an ombudsperson makes public information that has been provided to him or her in confidence.
  6. In the event that an ombudsperson is prevented from participating or is biased in a procedure involving suspected scientific misconduct, the other ombudsperson shall take over the procedure. The possible bias can be asserted by the ombudsperson himself/herself, the other ombudsperson or by third parties.
  7. The following persons are available for further consultation on questions of good research practice
    • the responsible vice president,
    • the doctoral representatives of the faculties,
    • the members of the Center for Junior Scholars of the TU Berlin.
  8. The advice given by the ombudsperson and the persons listed in paragraph 7 on suspected scientific misconduct is to be confidential in order to protect the whistleblower and the accused.
  9. This statute does not apply to misconduct in examinations regulated by the AllgStuPO. The statutes also do not apply to misconduct in doctoral or habilitation procedures regulated by the doctoral regulations of the TU Berlin and the habilitation regulations of the faculties of the TU Berlin. Only insofar as the respective regulations do not cover the facts of the case or do not cover them sufficiently, shall this statute be applied.

Section 11 Ethics committees in scientific institutions

The scientific institutions of the TU Berlin establish subject-specific committees for ethics (decentralized ethics committees) as required. The decentralized ethics committees evaluate ethical issues raised in the context of research projects or in connection with publications in their field.

Section 12 Central Commission on Ethics in Research

  1. The executive board establishes a Commission for Ethics in Research (KEF). As a central advisory body to the executive board, the KEF is responsible for general ethical issues in research at TU Berlin. It recommends general principles for an ethics guideline to the executive board and the academic senate, which are also binding for the decentralized ethics committees. At the request of the executive board, an ombudsperson or the chairperson of an ethics committee, the KEF also comments on ethics issues in the context of research projects or in connection with publications, taking into account paragraph 7.
  2. The KEF consists of at least seven TU-internal members of different status groups of different scientific disciplines and an appropriate number of deputies plus two external members, one of whom should be internationally positioned. The group of university teachers must always have the majority. The members of the commission should have research experience and be well versed in the assessment of questions of scientific ethics.
  3. The members of the KEF and their deputies are appointed by the executive board for a period of four years, the students for two years. Reappointment is possible. Gender parity in the composition of the KEF is strived for.
  4. Any member may resign at his or her own request without stating reasons. Any member, including the chairperson, may be dismissed by the executive board for good cause. The member must be heard beforehand. The decision must be justified in writing. A new member can be appointed for a member who has resigned.
  5. The KEF and its members are independent in the performance of their duties and are not bound by instructions. They act according to their best knowledge and conscience.
  6. Members of the TU Berlin must provide the KEF with truthful information and access to relevant documents. Justified interests of whistleblowers are to be protected as far as this is possible within the framework of a fair procedure. Their names should only be disclosed, even to members and advisors, if a person concerned cannot otherwise defend him/herself properly or if the credibility of a whistleblower must be examined.
  7. The chairpersons of the decentralized ethics committees and the ombudspersons of the TU Berlin, the data protection officer, the company physician and the senior safety engineer and environmental officer are invited to the meetings as advisors. If necessary, further expert advisors can be consulted.
  8. If another committee, in particular one of the decentralized ethics committees, is responsible for assessing the ethical aspects of an application, either within or outside the TU Berlin, its responsibility shall take precedence. If the distribution of responsibilities is not clearly regulated, the KEF shall contact the other committee; both committees shall then reach an agreement on responsibility.
  9. The chairpersons of the decentralized ethics committees shall report to the KEF regularly, at least once a year, on their activities and thus ensure the flow of information, including on special or critical issues.
  10. The KEF reports to the executive board, and at the request of the executive board also to the academic senate, once a year - if necessary in an appropriately anonymized form - on its activities. Cases concerning the civil clause of the TU Berlin are presented separately.

Part III: Procedure in Cases of Suspected Academic Misconduct

Section 13 Definition of scientific misconduct

  1. Scientific misconduct is the abuse of the freedom of research protected by Art. 5(3) sentence 1 GG, endangering or violating the constitutionally protected legal interests of others. This is considered to be the case if false information is deliberately or grossly negligently provided in a scientific context, the intellectual property of others is infringed or their research activities are impaired in some other way. The circumstances of the individual case are decisive in each case.
  2. In particular, the following are considered to be false statements
    • the fabrication of data;
    • falsifying data, e.g. by using incomplete data and not taking into account undesirable results without disclosing this, and by manipulating representations or illustrations;
    • misrepresentation in a letter of application;
    • misrepresentation in a grant application or in connection with publications (e.g., regarding the publication organ and publications in print
  3. Intellectual property with respect to a copyrighted work created by another person, essential scientific knowledge, hypotheses, doctrines or research approaches originating from others is infringed by
    • the unauthorized exploitation under presumption of authorship (plagiarism),
    • the exploitation of research approaches and ideas of others, especially as a reviewer (theft of ideas),
    • presuming to be a scientific author without making a substantial contribution of one's own,
    • claiming the (co-)authorship of others without their consent,
    • falsification of the content or
    • unauthorized publication and unauthorized making available to third parties, especially if the work, finding, hypothesis, teaching or research approach has not yet been published.
  4. Interfering with the research activities of others is
    • the damage, destruction, tampering or theft of data, sources, records and equipment used for or made in the course of scientific activity
    • the obstruction of scientific discussion in the various work units;
    • the obstruction of access to necessary research facilities.
  5. Scientific misconduct may further consist in the disposal of primary data to the extent that it violates regulations or discipline-related accepted principles of scientific work.
  6. Own scientific misconduct can also result from active participation in the misconduct of others, co-authorship of publications containing falsification, as well as gross neglect of supervisory duties and supervisory responsibilities.
  7. Further cases of application as well as cross-university recommendations on good scientific practice developed by the joint ombudsman's office for good scientific practice of the Berlin universities in accordance with § 5a paragraph 3 BerlHG are to be used as a supplement for the interpretation of this norm.

Section 14 Relevance

Scientific misconduct can only lead to sanctions according to the present statutes if principles of scientificity have been violated or the freedom of research has been abused in such a way that the work of the accused is to be denied the character of scientificity not only in detail or according to the definition of certain schools, but systematically.

Section 15 Commission for the Investigation of Scientific Misconduct

  1. In order to clarify scientific misconduct, the executive board appoints three members of the Commission for the Investigation of Scientific Misconduct (commission) for a period of three years. Two of the members must be university teachers. The third member shall be a scientific employee. At least one member of the commission must be a woman. Reappointment of the commission members is possible.
  2. All members of the commission must have distinguished themselves through their scientific activities, be neutral, experienced and permanent members of the university and cover as broad a spectrum of subjects as possible.
  3. In the event that a member is biased or unable to attend, the president shall appoint an equally qualified representative from one of the two status groups. This person shall perform the duties of the commission member for the duration of the proceedings.
  4. The possible bias can be asserted by the commission member himself/herself, by another commission member or by a third party.
  5. The commission elects a chairperson from among its members.
  6. The commission is independent of instructions, but is subject to legal supervision by the presidium. The decisions of the commission are made in free consideration of evidence.
  7. The presidium shall assign to the commission a member of the administration qualified to hold judicial office, with whom the commission shall coordinate all procedural actions from a legal point of view. In case of (prolonged) incapacity, the executive board shall appoint another equally qualified member of the administration to represent it.
  8. The commission may call in persons with experience in investigating scientific misconduct for its investigation in an advisory capacity.

Section 16 Procedure

  1. Complainants shall first contact one of the two ombudspersons with their suspicions. The whistleblower's report must be made in good faith. Deliberately false or wanton accusations can themselves constitute scientific misconduct.
  2. It is the task of the ombudsperson to examine the allegations under plausibility aspects for concreteness and significance and to decide whether to inform the commission about this or whether the allegations are obviously unfounded. The ombudsperson shall consider moderation between the complainant and the accused persons, provided that the suspicion of scientific misconduct is not serious and a repetition can be assessed as unlikely.
  3. Information to the commission should be provided in writing, citing the suspicion and the underlying evidence.
    Insofar as the ombudsperson judges the allegations to be manifestly unfounded, he or she shall inform the complainant and the accused persons of this in writing. Only in this case may the commission be called upon directly by the complainant.
  4. The identity of the complainant, the accused persons and information on the facts of the case are to be treated as strictly confidential until scientific misconduct has been proven and will not be disclosed to third parties without appropriate consent. This only applies if there is a legal obligation to do so or if the person affected by the accusations cannot otherwise defend him/herself properly because the identity of the person providing the information is exceptionally important.
  5. In the event of evidence of scientific misconduct, the results of the investigation shall be communicated to the institutions concerned, in particular institutes, faculties or scientific organizations, in a form appropriate to the seriousness of the misconduct.
  6. Persons who in good faith provide information about suspected scientific misconduct (so-called whistleblowers) must not suffer any disadvantages for their own scientific and/or professional advancement. Their identity must be protected. The same applies to those affected by the allegations insofar as no misconduct has yet been formally established.
  7. The investigation of allegations of scientific misconduct shall be conducted at each stage of the proceedings with due regard for confidentiality and the fundamental principle of the presumption of innocence.


Section 17 Preliminary examination procedure

  1. If the commission becomes aware of a suspicion of scientific misconduct, it immediately informs the executive board and initiates the necessary measures to investigate the facts.
  2. As part of the preliminary review process, the commission examines whether the suspicion brought to its attention is sufficiently concrete and plausible to warrant a full investigation of the facts in a main proceeding. A complaint filed anonymously can only be reviewed in proceedings if the commission has been presented with reliable and sufficiently concrete facts.
  3. If the suspicion is sufficiently concrete, the commission shall give the accused person the opportunity to comment on the allegation of scientific misconduct.
  4. The complainant will be informed of the result of the preliminary examination within two months. If the decision is against a main proceeding, the complaining persons have the opportunity to file a counter-proposal within two weeks, whereupon the commission will reconsider its decision. The result of this reconsideration is not subject to appeal.

Section 18 Main procedure

  1. The commission meets non-publicly according to § 50 para. 3 BerlHG. The ombudspersons according to § 10 as well as a representative of the executive board are permitted to participate. The relevant staff representative, the women's representative and/or the representative for severely disabled persons may participate in the proceedings as observers, provided the person they represent does not object.
  2. Resolutions of the commission shall be adopted by simple majority.
  3. The commission shall be entitled to take all steps necessary to clarify the facts of the case to the extent permitted by law. To this end, it may, in particular, obtain all necessary information and statements and, in individual cases, also call in experts.
  4. The commission can assign one of its members as rapporteur to investigate the facts of the case. The rapporteur shall coordinate his/her investigations with the commission and report to the commission on the facts determined by him/her. After this report, the commission shall decide whether further investigations by the commission are necessary or whether the result of the investigation is accepted by the commission.
  5. The accused persons shall be informed of the incriminating facts and, if applicable, evidence.
  6. Both the complaining persons and the accused persons shall be given the opportunity to make oral statements within the framework of a hearing by the commission. Both parties may be accompanied by a person of their confidence, who need not be a member of the TU Berlin.
  7. The identity of the complaining persons shall be disclosed to the accused persons if this appears necessary for an appropriate statement of the accused persons on the accusations made. This is particularly the case if the credibility of the complaining persons is of essential importance for the determination of scientific misconduct.
  8. If there is a supervisory relationship between the complainant and the accused, this can be terminated by both parties if scientific misconduct is proven. If a complaining person is one of the supervised persons, the faculty has the obligation to ensure supervision elsewhere; adverse consequences under service or employment law for the supervised person do not follow from this. In the case of a doctorate, the provisions of the relevant doctoral regulations of the TU Berlin apply accordingly.

Section 19 Closure of proceedings

The commission shall report to the executive board in writing on the results of its work and submit a recommendation for a decision.

Section 20 Decision of the Presidium

  1. Based on the report and recommendation of the commission, the executive board decides whether to discontinue the proceedings or whether scientific misconduct has been sufficiently proven. Before making a decision, the executive board may also submit the case to the joint ombudsman's office for good scientific practice of the Berlin universities for evaluation in accordance with § 5a paragraph 3 BerlHG. A decision that deviates from the commission's recommendation must be justified to the commission in writing.
  2. Depending on the type and severity of the misconduct determined by the commission, the executive board may decide on the following measures in particular:
    • Written reprimand of the accused person,
    • request to the person concerned to withdraw the incriminating publication or to correct incorrect data (this in particular by publishing an erratum);
    • Notification of the scientific misconduct to the third party funder, as far as scientific misconduct in the context of third party funded projects is concerned;
    • Notification of the scientific misconduct to the Department II for examination and, if necessary, implementation of disciplinary or labor law measures against the person concerned;
    • depending on the facts of the case, the executive boards office may also initiate criminal or regulatory measures.
  3. If the academic misconduct additionally fulfills the requirements for the withdrawal of the academic degree according to § 34 para. 7 BerlHG and if the accused person has acquired his/her academic degree at the TU Berlin, this can lead to the withdrawal of the academic degree according to the legal regulations. If the academic degree was acquired at another university, this university will be informed by the president about the academic misconduct of the accused person if the requirements of § 34 para. 7 BerlHG are met.
  4. If the accused person is an honorary professor, proof of academic misconduct may lead to dismissal in accordance with § 117 para. 2 no. 5 BerlHG. If the accused person is a private lecturer, evidence of scientific misconduct may lead to the revocation of the teaching license according to § 117 para. 2 p. 1 in conjunction with § 118 para. 2 BerlHG. § 118 para. 2 BerlHG. If the accused person is an honorary professor or private lecturer at another university, para. 3 p. 2 shall apply accordingly.
  5. The person filing the complaint as well as the accused person shall be informed of the decision of the executive board without delay. The main reasons which led to the decision shall also be communicated in writing.
  6. If the commission has come to the recommendation that the allegation of scientific misconduct was wrongly made, the presidium shall take the necessary measures for the rehabilitation of the accused person.

Section 21 Rush

If academic misconduct has been identified, the president will review the need for further action - in order to maintain the academic standards of the university as well as the rights of all those directly and indirectly affected.

Section 22 Evaluation of the reports

If academic misconduct has been identified, the president will review the need for further action - in order to maintain the academic standards of the university as well as the rights of all those directly and indirectly affected.

Section 23 Retention and reporting requirements

  1. The files on the preliminary and main proceedings are kept for 30 years.
  2. The chairperson of the commission reports to the academic senate on request about the number, status and outcome of proceedings in anonymous form.

Section 24 Implementing regulations

The academic senate shall issue implementing regulations specifying these statutes. Amendments to the implementing regulations shall be issued by the executive board and submitted to the academic senate for information.

Section 25 Entry into force/expiry

  1. These bylaws come into force on the day of publication in the Official Gazette of the TU Berlin.
  2. These bylaws replace the "Bylaws for Ensuring Good Scientific Practice at the TU Berlin" adopted by the Academic Senate on March 8, 2017.