HEIs and non-HEI research institutions appoint at least one independent ombudsperson to whom their members and employees can turn with questions relating to good research practice and in cases of suspected misconduct. They take sufficient care to ensure that people are aware of who the ombudspersons at the institution are. For each ombudsperson there must be a designated substitute in case there is any concern about conflicts of interest or in case the ombudsperson is unable to carry out his or her duties.
Ombudspersons may not serve as members of a central governing body of their institutions while serving in this role. An ombudsperson has a set term of office. A further term of office is permissible. Researchers who are persons of integrity and who have management experience are eligible to be selected as ombudspersons. As neutral and qualified contact persons, they advise on issues relating to good research practice and in suspected cases of scientific misconduct and, where possible, contribute to solution-oriented conflict mediation. Ombudspersons maintain confidentiality in dealing with queries and, if necessary, notify the responsible body at their institution, normally an investigating committee, in the event of suspected cases of misconduct. HEIs and non-HEI research institutions give ombudspersons the support and acceptance they need to carry out their duties. Institutions may initiate additional measures to help facilitate the work of an ombudsperson. HEIs and non-HEI research institutions incorporate in their regulations a right of choice that enables members and employees to contact their institution’s ombudsperson or the national German Research Ombudsman. The German Research Ombudsman is an independent body that provides advice and support on issues relating to good research practice and allegations of inappropriate conduct.