Good scientific practice at GEOMAR

Scientific misconduct poses a threat to scientists and institutions. It damages the reputation and career of the scientists involved in such behaviour and the people affected by such behaviour. Ultimately, scientific misconduct undermines the very foundation of our work, namely society's trust in science.

Nevertheless, scientific misconduct is on the rise for a variety of reasons. Therefore, we ask everyone at GEOMAR, even if you feel under pressure, not to ignore violations of good scientific practice in your scientific environment and not to participate in such violations under any circumstances. Ignoring scientific misconduct is scientific misconduct itself.

Below you will find a list of the most common violations of the guidelines. This will give you an overview of what scientific misconduct means.

  • addition of “big” names as co-authors to facilitate publication

  • omission of co-authors

  • trimming of statistical procedures

  • theft of ideas from confidential documents, e.g. from manuscripts or proposals in review

  • hiding of unwanted data

  • rejection of competing papers or proposals

  • theft of data or samples

  • plagiarism

  • data falsification

    The German Research Foundation (DFG) has drawn up guidelines for good scientific practice. In agreement with the DFG and based on its guidelines, GEOMAR has adopted a code of good scientific practice. You can find the original in German language here

    GEOMAR-Leitlinien zur Sicherung guter wissenschaftlicher Praxis

    and a machine-translated version in English language here

    Guidelines for safeguarding good scientific practice at GEOMAR

    The full DFG guidelines (in German) can be found here.

Ombudspersons for safeguarding the principles of good scientific practice

If you believe that you have observed scientific misconduct, you can either directly contact the persons involved (often they are unaware that they are doing something wrong) or you can contact one of the ombudspersons at GEOMAR, the central Ombudsperson of the Helmholtz Society  or the "Ombudsman für die Wissenschaft" (Ombudsman for Science) committee at the DFG. Your case will be treated strictly confidentially and impartially. In most cases, such cases can be resolved through discussion, but there are also procedures in place to deal with more serious cases of scientific misconduct.

The determination of scientific misconduct and the imposition of sanctions is not the task of ombudspersons. However, if there is reasonable suspicion of scientific misconduct, they can involve the DFG's Subcommittee on Misconduct Matters or similar investigative bodies, e.g. at universities.

The ombudspersons at GEOMAR are currently PD Dr Christa Marandino and PD Dr Florian Weinberger. You can contact them personally at any time or via ombuds(at) The GEOMAR ombudspersons serve as a point of contact in the event of discrepancies, suspicions and disputes and can advise, mediate and investigate allegations of scientific misconduct on the basis of the institution's internal guidelines.

In addition, "Ombudsman for Science" is available to all scientists and academics directly and independently of DFG involvement for counselling and support in matters of good scientific practice and its violation through scientific dishonesty. "Ombudsman for Science" has been established as an independent body by the DFG Senate in accordance with a recommendation of the "Commission on Self-Regulation in Science" (Recommendation 16). Ombudsman for Science" also sees itself as an advisory and mediation organisation. This applies in particular to the counselling of persons who have brought scientific misconduct to the attention of investigative bodies and are subjected to sanctions as a result.

Further documents and links:

  • Dr. Florian Weinberger
    GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel
    Research Division 3: Marine Ecology
    Düsternbrooker Weg 20 
    D-24105 Kiel 
    Phone: +49-431 - 600-4516
    Fax: +49-431 - 600-1671

    Prof. Dr. Christian Berndt
    Research Division 4: Dynamics of the Ocean Floor
    Wischhofstr. 1-3
    D-24148 Kiel
    Phone: +49-431 - 600 - 2273
    Fax: +49-431 - 600 - 2922

    Dr. Christa Marandino
    Research Division 2: Marine Biogeochemistry
    Düsternbrooker Weg 20
    D-24105 Kiel
    Phone: +49-431 - 600 - 4219