Ensuring Good Scientific Practice
University of Innsbruck


I. Preamble
II. General Principles
III. Rules
IV. Sespected Breach of the Rules

I. Preambel

The University of Innsbruck is committed to all basic principles of sound scientific work and to the Guidelines of the Austrian Agency for Research Integrity on Good Scientific Practice. Scientists and researchers are responsible for complying with these guidelines. The guidelines are supplemented by the following internal guidelines and internal control mechanisms.

II. General Principles

  1. Maintaining research integrity

    All scientists and researchers are obliged to adhere to the principles of integrity in research. Honesty, sincerity, transparency, and scientific method are indispensable prerequisites of scientific work if it is to serve the advancement of knowledge and be appreciated by society. Scientists and researchers must therefore adhere to the following points:

    1. Transparent, sincere, and comprehensible communication:
      This includes the willingness to take part in critical professional debate with other researchers and scientists as well as between researchers and scientists. Criticism and doubts from colleagues are to be respected. At the same time, it must be ensured that colleagues' work is reviewed in an impartial and unbiased manner, or that no reviews are carried out in cases of bias and possible conflicts of interest. The same standards apply to communication with those who commission research projects and the general public in the discussion of research and its results.
    2. Permanent and critical questioning of events  (systematic scepticism and an openness to doubt, including about one's own results).
    3. High reliability in the execution of joint research efforts; and fair treatment of junior scientists and researchers in particular. Responsible supervision of young academics and appropriate recognition of their achievements must be ensured.
    4. The principle of publicity of basic research must be upheld, i.e., the publication of results obtained with public funds must be guaranteed.
    5. Colleagueship and cooperation are guiding principles in scientific research. The scientific work of others must not be hindered or delayed, even in the case of direct competition.
    6. Scientific misconduct in one’s own environment is to be avoided and the principles of good scientific practice are to be upheld in all cases. Cooperation and leadership responsibilities in working groups should be perceived as active tasks.
  2. Scientific work lege artis according to general as well as subject- and discipline-specific rules and standards

    Good scientific research must be promoted at all levels. The only decisive factor in the decision to fund research projects should be the quality of the research. This must be determined by suitable and objectifiable evaluation.

    Scientific work must be carried out in compliance with subject- and discipline-specific rules and legal standards according to the latest state of research (lege artis). This requires acquiring the necessary methodological and theoretical knowledge before starting a scientific investigation and continuously keeping up to date.

    When selecting publication media (publishers, journals, etc.), special attention should be paid to ensuring that they have appropriate quality assurance mechanisms in place. The quality assurance mechanisms are handled differently in different disciplines but ensure publishing according to the standards of good scientific practice.

    In the case of young academics (diploma students, Master’s students, PhD students, project staff), the supervisors are obliged to ensure appropriate preparation and induction of the young academics entrusted to them.

    Recognised standards include in particular:

    • Documentation
      The methods, organisation, process, and results of scientific research activities shall be documented, secured, and stored, thereby ensuring repeatability as far as possible. This means that primary documents, raw data, measurement results, and scientific results must be kept available on durable and secured data carriers at the University for 10 years after the completion of a project/study or the publication of the results. Personal data from projects may only be stored as long as necessary for the research work. Results and findings obtained in the course of research activities that are not directly reflected in a publication must also be documented and stored. This also means that the original protocols and all necessary documents of scientific investigations remain at the department concerned. The responsibility for this lies with the head of the department and the respective leaders of research projects. Only documented results can serve as a basis for scientific publications or scientific applications.

    • Respecting the intellectual property rights and the input of all participants as well as third parties, correct indication of authorship

      Credit must be given for all outside contributions without exception, including ideas, data collection, and other sources not protected by copyright. Copyrights and references to own and external (preliminary) work and findings must be cited in full without exception (citations in accordance with legal and subject-specific rules). The republication of an already published text or parts of a text without reference to the earlier publication is prohibited.

      Honesty must be strictly maintained with regard to ideas and contributions from third parties, partners, competitors, predecessors, and young academics. The designation as author or co-author must reflect the actual participation in the publication, (Co-)authors share the responsibility for the content of their scientific publication. Co-authors must be informed of their naming as co-authors by the corresponding authors or authors responsible for the publication prior to publication, since authors of texts also have the right not to be named as authors. The order of the authors' list must be discussed in the team with all co-authors. New scientific results must be described fully and comprehensibly in publications.

      Authorship is established when someone has contributed significantly to a research plan, the conduct of research, the evaluation and/or interpretation of results, or the preparation of a manuscript. The head of the institution in which the research project was carried out, a superior relationship, the funding of research, or the reading of a manuscript cannot establish authorship. The University of Innsbruck also strictly rejects any kind of honorary authorship.

      When reporting inventions, all co-inventors who have made an independent, conceptual contribution to the invention must be named. The percentage distribution of the inventor's share in the inventor's remuneration shall be determined by mutual agreement and on a fair basis and shall be stated in the invention disclosure. Subsequent changes to the distribution can be made at any time, but only by mutual agreement (for example, due to claims in the patent specification or in the course of licensing a patent portfolio).

    • Avoiding conflicts of interest

      Any conflicts of interest which could impair the unbiased and honest performance of university functions and duties, in particular close personal relationships and economic advantages, including those of third parties involved, are to be avoided.

      The review of projects, publications, or academic theses (diploma, Master’s theses, dissertations) is to be refused in case of (possible) bias or direct competition.

      Any (potential) conflicts of interest must be disclosed to superiors, who must decide on the further course of action, before accepting or awarding functions, supervision responsibilities, and assignments, or carrying out official duties. If a proposal is approved, (possible) economic and other conflicts of interest must be disclosed in publications, lectures, presentations of results of other kinds, as well as in expert reviews and contract research.

  3. Strictly refraining from violations of the guidelines for good scientific practice, which include
    • Any infringement of intellectual property rights
      - Plagiarism (use of foreign text passages or data by direct, paraphrased or translated adoption without appropriate citation of the source and the author)
      - Theft of ideas
      - Excluding legitimate authorship
      - Authorship in publications obtained by devious means
      - Claiming the (co-)authorship of another person without their permission
      - Unauthorised publication
    • Falsification of research results
      - Invention, forgery, manipulation, and suppression of data and representations
      - Distortion of content
      - Elimination or inadequate documentation of primary data
    • Violation of supervision duties, lack of cooperation or colleagueship
      - Lack or insufficient academic discussion in working groups
      - Inadequate supervision of young academics or authors of (scientific) theses
      - Lack of instruction of those involved in research about good scientific practice
      - Sabotage of research activity
      - Defamation in relation to good scientific practice
      - Breach of trust as a reviewer
    • Concealing conflicts of interest, accepting or (co-)carrying out incompatible functions, assignments, and research projects

    Detailed Presentation of the Guidelines for Good Scientific Practice of the Austrian Agency for Research Integrity

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III. Support for Compliance with Guidelines for Good Scientific Practice

  • Information and supervision
    The head of department shall inform the staff of the department about the standards for ensuring good scientific practice and have this confirmed by signature. This applies in particular to young academics (diploma students, Master’s students, PhD students). The management bodies of the University (Rector, Dean, Head of Department) shall, in addition to providing information, also exercise primary supervision over compliance with the rules in their respective areas. In the event of a breach of these rules, they shall take appropriate measures and, in any case, inform the next higher authority (Dean, Rector).

  • Curriculum for good scientific practice
    The curricula must include the topic of good scientific practice in various courses. Students should be made aware of and understand the problems of scientific activity in the relevant courses. The necessity of the scientific criterion of criticising research results and doubting the validity of one’s own data, as well as the subject-specific standards and quality characteristics of scientific results must be established in any case as teaching content for such courses.

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IV. Suspected Breach of the Rules

  1. Procedure in the event of a suspected breach of the rules
    If a breach of good scientific practice is suspected, this must be reported to the Vice-Rector for Research. The Vice-Rector for Research will then take over further processing or forward the report to the responsible bodies. In cases of suspicion in connection with academic theses (diploma and Master’s theses, dissertations), you can directly contact the Vice-Rector for Student Affairs and Teaching.

    The university management coordinates the external communication of information in the public interest.

  2. Consequences of scientific misconduct
    Scientific misconduct or a breach of the rules of good scientific practice may have consequences under labour law/public service law, study law, criminal law, or civil law, in accordance with the respective applicable legal provisions.

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Univ.-Prof. Dr. Veronika Sexl


 Ombuds Office for Good Scientific Practice at the University of Innsbruck

  Guidelines for Good Scientific Practice of the Austrian Agency for Research Integrity

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