The German Research Ombudsman
The German Research Ombudsman was established in 1999 by the Senate of the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, or DFG) in order to advise and mediate between parties in matters related to research integrity. The Ombudsman’s guidelines and activities are based on the DFG memorandum “Proposals for Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice”.
The Ombudsman is a non-profit collegial body. All of its activities are guided by three principles: confidentiality, fairness and transparency. The committee consists of four senior researchers who are appointed by the DFG for a three-year period and who can be re-appointed for one additional term. In 2017, the members’ term of office was changed to four years. The scholars serving on the committee are acknowledged experts in different areas who work on a voluntary, pro bono basis and are supported by an administrative office. Although the members of the committee are appointed by the DFG, they are completely independent in their advising and support activities. The DFG is not involved in any of the Ombudsman’s procedures, nor is it informed about the content or parties involved in those procedures.
The tasks of the Ombudsman fall into two main areas: handling individual cases of suspected misconduct and safeguarding ethics in science and research. The Ombudsman itself does not offer curricula for the training of students or young academics in research integrity. However, members of the committee give individual lectures on the structure and role of the German Research Ombudsman in upholding good research practice.
The activities of the German Ombudsman are presented to the Senate of the DFG in an annual report which is made available to the public on the DFG website.