Code of Conduct for theses and scientific work
Code of Conduct: Rules to Ensure Good Scientific Practice
Decision by the Chancellor’s Office of 23 November 2007
Scientific honesty and observance of the principles of good scientific practice are indispensable prerequisites for any scientific activity that strives to increase knowledge and accordingly seeks to be respected by the public. Breaches of good scientific practice are contrary to the essence of science.
Vienna University of Technology is committed to good scientific practice and recognises cultivation of good scientific practice and appropriately dealing with accusations of misconduct as its institutional task. The following Guidelines are meant to help avoid scientific misconduct and promote quality in scientific activities.
Even if dishonesty in science cannot be totally prevented by a set of rules, corresponding precautions can still be taken to ensure that the norms of good scientific practice are brought home to all concerned.
The following principles do not in any way replace existing legal regulations and ethical standards (of a general nature or relating to specific disciplines) but additionally establish generally applicable principles of scientific ethics at the level of the university as a whole.
The wording of the text follows closely that of the Austrian Conference of University Chancellors to Ensure Good Scientific Practice as well as the recommendations of the Commission on Self-Regulation in Science of the German Research Foundation (German Research Foundation, Sicherung guter wissenschaftlicher Praxis, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, 1998).
Article 1: General principles of scientific practice
Scientists working at Vienna University of Technology are obliged
• to work artis lege, i.e. to carry out their scientific activities in accordance with legal regulations, ethical standards and the current state of the art of their profession or discipline,
• to document results and consistently subject all results to critical analysis,
• to maintain stringent honesty in regard to contributions made by collaborators, competitors and predecessors,
• to avoid and prevent scientific misconduct in their work and (as far as they are able) in their immediate environment,
• to comply with the principles and rules described below.
Article 2: Scientific misconduct
Scientific misconduct is when in any scientific context misinformation is given, either deliberately or through gross negligence, or the intellectual property of others is infringed or their research activities are otherwise impaired.
Particularly likely to be considered scientific misconduct are:
1. Misrepresentation by
a) inventing data
b) falsifying data (e.g. by selecting and rejecting inconvenient results without disclosing this fact; by manipulation of any presentation or illustration)
c) making misrepresentations in any application for employment or grants (including misrepresentations about publication bodies and publications already in print)
2. Infringement of intellectual property rights in regard to any work created by others and protected under copyright or significant scientific insights, hypotheses, doctrines or research approaches derived from others by
a) unauthorised use with misrepresentation of authorship (plagiarism)
b) exploitation of research approaches and ideas, in particular as a professional appraiser (theft of ideas)
c) expropriation or unjustified adoption of scientific authorship or co-authorship
d) falsifying contents
e) unauthorised publication and unauthorised disclosure to third parties as long as the work, discovery, hypothesis, doctrine or research approach has not been published
3. Claiming the (co-) authorship of others without the latter’s consent
4. Impairing the research activities of others by
a) sabotaging research activities (including damaging, destroying or manipulating experimental facilities, equipment, documentation, hardware, software, chemicals or other items required by others to carry out an experiment)
b) eliminating source data wherever this violates statutory regulations or recognised principles of scientific work specific to the particular discipline or article 6 of these Guidelines
Article 3: Co-responsibility for misconduct
Co-responsibility for misconduct within the meaning of article 2 may in particular result from
1. actively participating in the misconduct of others,
2. knowledge of falsifications by others,
3. co-authorship of publications tainted by falsification, or
4. grossly neglecting supervisory obligations.
Article 4: Management responsibility and cooperation
Every scientist acts on his or her own responsibility in the context of scientific activities. Anyone charged with management of a scientific division (institute, working group, etc) at the same time bears responsibility for appropriate organisation ensuring that the tasks of management, supervision, conflict resolution and quality control are unambiguously allocated and actually exercised.
The management function of a scientific division requires professional knowledge, physical presence and an overall view. Management functions must be delegated where management responsibility cannot be adequately exercised due to the size of the group or for other reasons. Collaboration in scientific divisions must be structured in such a way that the results obtained through specialised division of labour can be mutually communicated, criticised and integrated into a common stock of knowledge. This is also of particular importance for training new generations of scientists in the group to become independent. The mutual review of work results must likewise be ensured, including by making one’s own results available.
Each manager of a scientific division must behave in a scientifically exemplary manner and see to it that the rules of good scientific practice are complied with.
Article 5: Responsibility for new generations of scientists
The training and promotion of new generations of scientists is one of a university’s primary tasks.
All institutes must endeavour to ensure that appropriate responsibility is provided for new generations of scientists, in particular for masterŸs and doctoral students, post-doctoral researchers as well as for assistants and those writing post-doctoral theses, and that there is a primary interlocutor available to them.
Every university teacher is called upon to inculcate the principles of good scientific practice in new generations of scientists and to stress the issue of scientific misconduct so as to contribute to their awareness of the problem and their responsibility.
Article 6: Securing and retention of source data
Source data, as the basis for scientific publications, and without prejudice to other statutory regulations, must be retained for at least ten years on viable and secured media in the institutes where they were produced wherever this is possible and can reasonably be expected.
All important results must be documented in an unambiguous and comprehensible manner and recorded since scientific results can only be replicated if all important steps are comprehensible. Records must be retained for at least ten years in order to be able to fall back on notes if the published results are called into question.
Article 7: Scientific publication
Authors are themselves responsible for the scientific reliability of their publications.
Publications reporting on new scientific results should describe those results and the methods applied completely and comprehensibly and account completely and correctly for prior work by the relevant scientist and by others. Results already published earlier should only be repeated in clearly disclosed form and only where it is necessary for contextual understanding.
Where several persons are involved in research work or in publications based on it then only such persons may be cited as authors and co-authors as have themselves significantly contributed to the design of the studies or experiments, to elaboration, analysis or interpretation of data or to production of the manuscript and have consented to its publication. Management of an organisational unit, of a research project or a working group is no more to be considered authorship than participation in data collection or in financing of the research project. So-called "honorary" authorship is expressly barred.
All co-authors should confirm clearance of a manuscript for publication with their signatures. Where the nature and scope of the research activity or the number of contributing authors so permits it should also be clarified what contribution each individual person has made.
If unpublished observations of other persons are cited in the manuscript, or if findings by other institutions are used then, with reservation made for other recognised practices specific to a particular discipline, their written consent must be obtained in advance.
By consenting to be cited as co-authors, the latter assume a share of responsibility that the co-authored publication meets the requirements of scientific standards. This applies especially to the field to which the co-authors have contributed; they are responsible both for the correctness of their own contribution as well as responsible for the fact that that contribution has been incorporated in the publication in a scientifically defensible manner.
Publications on the Internet and the use of Internet sources are subject to the same regulations as other publications and sources.
Article 8: Entry into force
These Guidelines will enter into force on the day following their publication in the university gazette of Vienna University of Technology.
Für das Rektorat:
Dr. P. S k a l i c k y