Abbott, Alison. "Germany Proposes Guidelines for Good Practice," Nature 390 (18/25
December 1998), p. 652.
[MUNICH] An independent panel the Deutsche Forschungspemeinschaff DFG) has put forward
a series of proposals for ensuring good scientific practice in Germany's Universities and research
institutes. Institutions failing to follow the guidelines should e excluded from research funding, it
Although the committee stresses that none of its recommendations is new, few German
universities have formal regulations for handling allegations of Scientific misconduct The (DFG
set up the panel in response to a recent case in which two senior researchers were found to have
systematically fabricated data over a blurrier of years (see Nature 387, 750 & 389, 105; 1997).
In its proposals, issued this week, the committee says that universities should have clear
definitions of different types of misconduct - for example, plagiarism and manipulation of data -
and should make explicit where responsibility lies in a university for handling any concerns.
It also says that each institution should appoint an independent counsellor to whom a scientist
aware of scientific misconduct in their laboratory could turn, and that the DFG should appoint an
independent ombudsman to consider cases of scientific misconduct . Would-be whistleblowers,
or scientists who consider themselves unfairly accused, should be able to choose whether to
consult the local counsellor or the DFG ombudsman for advice.
The committee further recommends that the practice of honorary authorship should be
abandoned, and that all primary data on experiments should be held for a minimum of ten years.