Scientific Misconduct and Questionable Research Practices

Violations of the rules of good research practice can take different forms and differ in the consequences they have for science and society. A distinction is therefore often made between (serious) scientific misconduct and so-called questionable research practices.

Scientific misconduct occurs in particular when false statements are made intentionally or through gross negligence, the intellectual property of others is infringed or the research activities of third parties are significantly impaired in some other way. Serious misconduct includes, for example, the invention and falsification of research results or plagiarism. The KIT Statutes on Safeguarding Good Research Practice regulate how violations are investigated and punished.

Questionable research practices are less easy to define, but usually encompass a range of actions that amount to cherry-picking, suppressing and distorting results. The formulation of hypotheses after (initial) results are already available (HARKing) can also be subsumed under this term. Both, scientific misconduct and questionable research practices, have a negative impact on the research process and therefore have a far-reaching effect on society's and politics' trust in research.

    Report Violations and Seek Support

    If there is a suspicion of (serious) scientific misconduct, the local Ombudspersons for Safeguarding Good Research Practice, the central Ombudsperson of the Helmholtz Association or the national ombudspersons of the German Research Foundation ("The German Research Ombudsman") should be contacted - if possible with concrete evidence of the allegations (e.g. e-mails, research data, etc.) - if, of course, the evidence can be obtained without breaking any laws.

    There are also other persons and offices at KIT that give advice on conflicts and help you to fulfil the standards of good research practice: