Good Scientific Practice
Manipulated data, idea snatching, dubious authorship – even in the world of natural science research, there are sensitive, semi-taboo issues that no one wants to talk about. To assure that these issues are not simply swept under the rug, rather, that they are thoroughly explained – this is the task of the ombudsman group at HZI.
This independent committee, which has been installed according to the regulations and guidelines of the German Research Foundation (DFG), investigates all cases involving reasonable suspicion of scientific misconduct. It functions as a drop-in facility that can be approached, with confidentiality, by all members of staff at the centre.
The ombudsman group works independently and is not bound to directives from Management. In suspicious cases, they investigate comprehensively and have the right to confiscate and examine laboratory books, computers, data and records of every description.
Their investigative activities are concluded in the form of an extensive statement, in which the ombudsman group delivers an opinion and, if necessary, recommends appropriate measures.
Election of the Ombudsman Group
Members of the ombudsman group are elected for five years by the scientific employees of the HZI. Both male and female employees are eligible who 1) are involved in research and development tasks and 2) possess either a university or polytechnic degree.
The ombudsman committee of the HZI for the current term of office (2016 to 2020) consists of the following scientists:
- Prof Manfred Rohde (Head of Ombudsgroup)
- Prof Luka Cicin-Sain
- Prof Dr Ursula Bilitewski
- Dr Oliver Goldmann
- Dr Alexander Titz (HIPS)
Principles of Good Scientific Practice
Several important principles for securing good scientific practice were formulated in 1998 by a commission of the German Research Foundation (DFG). This includes, for example, the commitment to retain primary data from research for ten years, in order to be able to execute retroactive and complete examinations. As regards scientific specialist publications, all authors, in compliance with DFG recommendations, should jointly assume responsibility for correctness of the content. Inclusion of a neutral and independent contact facility, e.g. in the form of an ombudsman committee, is required in the DFG guidelines.
Regulations at HZI
Based on the recommendations from the German Research Foundation (DFG), the HZI has provided binding regulations to make sure that legitimate scientific work is carried out.
Members of the ombudsman group
Prof Dr Ursula Bilitewski
Head of the Research Group Compound Profiling und Screening
Education and Employments
* 1977 – 1983
Chemistry; University of Münster
* Oct. 1983
* 1983 – 1987
Ph.D. thesis at the Institute of Physical Chemistry, University of Münster
* 1987 - 1988
Postdoctoral fellow, Institute of Physical Chemistry, University of Münster
* Feb. 1987
* since 1988
Project manager at the GBF mbH, Braunschweig
Habilitation in Biochemistry at the Technical University of Braunschweig
* since 1994
Professor for Biochemistry at the Technical University of Braunschweig
* since 2000
Chair of the Working group “Biochemical Methods” of the Waterchemical Society of the GDCh
Research Interests and Achievements
Ursula Bilitewski has many years of experience in bioanalytical methods. She has started with the development of enzyme electrodes based on screen-printing technology, which is nowadays one of the most frequently used technologies for the industrial production of glucose test strips. This work was complemented by the development of optical affinity sensors using antibodies, receptors and oligonucleotides as binding molecules. Besides the development of suitable surface and immobilisation chemistries, demonstrators and miniaturised systems for the application to food, environmental and bioprocess analysis she became interested in the biological sensing mechanisms and corresponding signal transduction mechanisms.
This led to projects on the elucidation of molecular mechanisms of potential therapeutic or toxic agents, which is now the major focus of her research. Test organisms, such as bacteria, fungi or human or animal cell lines, are treated with the compounds under investigation and the response of the organism is analysed on a molecular level, considering metabolites, proteins and nucleic acids using specific enzyme or immunoassays, gel electrophoresis and DNA-chips. These investigations will be supported by analysis of the dynamics of the intracellular networks using methods of systems biology and lead not only to a molecular understanding of toxic or therapeutic mechanisms but also to new screening assays, as new markers for the activity of compounds will be identified.
Since her habilitation Prof. Bilitewski was main supervisor of more than 20 PhD students. She is principal author of approx. 70 original publications and 40 review articles.