Rules for assuring good scientific practice at the AIP and procedures for coping with scientific malpractice


The employees of the AIP are committed to the principles of scientific operation as they are defined by the code of conduct of the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft (DPG). In the following the principles are formulated in regard to the AIP based on the code of conduct of the DPG and including the recommendations for assuring a good scientific practice published by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).
The employees of the AIP shall exclusively and directly serve basic and applied astronomical and (astro)physical research. They shall enhance the exchange of experiences among each other and with foreign colleagues. They are obliged to advocate freedom, tolerance, truth and dignity in science and to be aware that those working in science are particularly responsible for the whole human life. In the spirit of these principles the employees of the AIP are obliged to obey the following minimum rules of ethics in their profession for securing a good scientific practice at the AIP.

Community of the Scientists

Every scientist at the AIP sees himself as a member of the scientific community and shares their particular responsibility concerning future generations. The employees of the AIP support the development of science. Thus, they acknowledge and observe the basic principle of honesty towards themselves and others valid in the sciences of all countries. The AIP condemns scientific misconduct and ostracises fraud in science as well as its intentional misuse.

Research Results

Research results have to be reproducible and/or comprehensibly documented. The heads of research groups have to ensure by adequate organisation that their staff members communicate and discuss their research results sufficiently before publication. Justified exceptions, e.g. for patent protection, have to be made possible. After publication of the results the documented data have to be stored on solid and secured media for 10 years.
The invention of data as well as the faking and plagiarising of data and texts is considered scientific misconduct and fraud.

Scientific Publications

Scientific publications belong to the existential basics of a scientist as well as to his duty towards the society that finances his research. In publications the methods and the results must be described in adequate form. One's own and external preliminary works have to be cited correctly. All authors of a scientific publication are together responsible for the content. Exceptions have to be marked. All scientists who made considerable contributions to the conception, planning, implementation or analysis of the research project shall have the opportunity to be co-authors. Persons with small contributions are mentioned in the acknowledgments. The management of a research institute or a working group in itself does not lend the right to be a co-author.
If it happens that a publication contains a mistake, particularly concerning data which is not completely cited in the publication, this must must be published in an erratum.


The honorary appraisal of research projects, of scientific publications and academic examinations as well as the participation in tenure procedures are considerable elements for the achievement of a high standard in science. The originality, the scientific depth and the autonomy shall be of the highest priority when evaluating a scientist. The number of publications alone cannot be a measure of scientific quality. The scientific employees of the AIP are generally committed to taking part in appraisals and tenure procedures, and to the protection of the confidentiality of the records entrusted to them. On their part they have to be able to trust those records. They are only allowed to take part in appraisals or tenure procedures if they are able to evaluate thoroughly and fair. Entrusted records may not be used to the purposeful advantage of the appraiser.


During the education and professional advancement/mentoring of future scientists it has to be ensured that they are taught the rules for assuring a good scientific practice. A particular interest must be taken in their observance.

Conflicts of Interests

Factual conflicts of interests can not be prevented among scientists. They should be laid open. Conflicts or discrepancies concerning scientific work are settled by a confident (ombudsman) determined by the Internes Wissenschaftliches Komitee (IWK) of the AIP. The IWK is a committee freely elected by the scientific employees of the institute in concordance with the foundation charter of the AIP supporting the foundation directorate in questions of scientific work and the scientific goal of the AIP. The confident shall belong to the circle of scientists at the AIP. Managing scientists of the AIP (Scientific director, department and working group heads) may not be appointed. The ombudsman performs his duty honorarily, independently and free from directives. The tenure is 3 years, a renewed appointment is possible.

Procedures for Handling Scientific Malpractice

  1. If the strong suspicion of a scientific malpractice exists the directorate of the AIP must be informed. Charges and grounds have to be written down.
  2. If the scientific directorate is itself under such a suspicion of scientific malpractice the chairman of the scientific advisory board must be informed. He decides on the further procedures.
  3. The Scientific directorate or chairman of the scientific advisory board, respectively, is asked to find out all facts which are relevant for the expressed charges. If necessary he may include impartial employees of the AIP or external appraisers.
  4. The/those person(s) who are suspected to have committed a malpractice should have the opportunity to provide statement by the latest one week after the charge has been made. Therefore, he/she/they have to be able to assess all information that led to the charge.
  5. The scientific directorate or chairman of the scientific advisory board, respectively, may decide not to disclose names of informants at first. If persons that make the charges are in a state of dependence from the/those person(s) who are charged with scientific malpractice they generally have the right of anonymity during the investigation and as long as the charge can be seen as justified.
  6. The person concerned must have a period of at least 10 days for his statement.
  7. Based on the investigation and the statement of the/those person(s) concerned the directorate or scientific advisory board, respectively, has to decide if scientific malpractice has to be regarded as proven.
  8. If the directorate or scientific advisory board can reach no conclusive opinion or is charged with prejudice on part of the/those person(s) concerned he may relegate the investigation to the board of enquiry of the WGL.
  9. The/those person(s) charged must independently from his/her/their personal rights that have to be observed have all possibilities to cite circumstances or facts or provide material, respectively, which is necessary for his/her/their exculpation. He may at any time have access to all records and ask for information as long as point 6 is not disregarded.
  10. If the charge of scientific malpractice is proved positively the directorate and the scientific advisory board, respectively, must, among others, decide about consequences according to employment law, civil law and criminal law.
  11. If the charge of scientific malpractice is proved wrong all steps have to be taken to rehabilitate where required the damaged esteem of the/those person(s) concerned.


The "Rules for assuring a good scientific practice at the AIP and procedures for coping with scientific malpractice" are ratified by the notification in the institute.

Potsdam, 2002 April 29

Prof. Dr. K.G. Strassmeier
Scientific Chairman, Speaker

Peter A. Stolz
Administrative Chairman

Dr. Matthias Steffen

Last update: 29. January 2021