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Good scientific practice

Adherence to good scientific practice (GWP) should be the goal of all researchers. But what exactly does it mean and at which stages of research is it particularly relevant?

What is good scientific practice?

First and foremost, good scientific practice (GWP) describes how researchers should handle their data. To make this easier for researchers, there are the DFG's so-called guidelines for ensuring good scientific practice, the so-called code. These guidelines state, among other things, that the researchers' published data must correspond to the actual results and must not be changed/falsified retroactively. It is also assumed that authors named on publications have made a decisive contribution to the publication and are not simply mentioned because of a certain position in the institute or other contacts. Based on these examples, it is already clear that compliance with good scientific practice should be in the interest of the researchers.

At what stages of research is good scientific practice relevant?

Here it can be said quite clearly: At every stage! It is already relevant during the planning of a project that researchers deal with documenting everything in the best possible way and not changing any results afterwards. In addition, the areas of responsibility of each person involved should already be defined at the beginning, so that in the case of a publication it should be quickly and easily clear who is significantly involved in the results. Of course, as in research in general, everything is a dynamic process and deviations from the original plan may occur. Good scientific practice is therefore also about reinforcing the general understanding of the importance of the correctness of research results. Good scientific practice also plays a crucial role after the end of the project, as research data (and associated metadata) should be retained for at least ten years. This increases the re-usability of the data and it should also be clearly regulated who can access the data and what authorizations are required for this. Here, too, the appropriate considerations should be initiated at the earlier stages as to how the further use of the data can be guaranteed.

What are the benefits of adhering to good scientific practice?

  • Increased credibility of the produced (research) results and a critical review of these.
  • Responsibilities within the research group are clarified at an early stage.
  • Rules regarding authorship in publications are adhered to.
  • Reproducibility is made possible (since data are not falsified).
  • Reusability of research data is ensured by the ten-year retention period.