24 Apr

“Research Data” in the DFG Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Research Practice

The Code of Conduct “Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Research Practice” of the German Science Foundation DFG was updated and significantly expanded in the summer of 2019. The topic of “research data” is newly introduced and strongly anchored in the guidelines. We provide information here on the key points on the topic of “research data” from the guidelines in order to make the expectations toward research institutions and researchers widely known.

As of 1 August 2019, all universities and non-university research institutions will be required to implement the 19 guidelines in a legally binding manner to be eligible to receive DFG funding. For those universities and non-university research institutions that have already implemented the relevant requirements in the DFG white paper “Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice” in a binding manner, there is a two-year transition period for implementing the guidelines in the Code. This period begins on 1 August 2019 and ends on 31 July 2021. 


Excerpts from the DFG Code of Conduct “Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Research Practice”

Guideline 12: Documentation

“Researchers document all information relevant to the production of a research result as clearly as is required by and is appropriate for the relevant subject area to allow the result to be reviewed and assessed. In general, this also includes documenting individual results that do not support the research hypothesis. The selection of results must be avoided. Where subject-specific recommendations exist for review and assessment, researchers create documentation in accordance with these guidelines. If the documentation does not satisfy these requirements, the constraints and the reasons for them are clearly explained. Documentation and research results must not be manipulated; they are protected as effectively as possible against manipulation.”

Explanations on Guideline 12

“An important basis for enabling replication is to make available the information necessary to understand the research (including the research data used or generated, the methodological, evaluation and analytical steps taken, and, if relevant, the development of the hypothesis), to ensure that citations are clear, and, as far as possible, to enable third parties to access this information. Where research software is being developed, the source code is documented.”


Guideline 13: Providing public access to research results

“If it has been decided to make results available in the public domain, researchers describe them clearly and in full. Where possible and reasonable, this includes making the research data, materials and information on which the results are based, as well as the methods and software used, available and fully explaining the work processes. Software programmed by researchers themselves is made publicly available along with the source code. Researchers provide full and correct information about their own preliminary work and that of others.“

Explanations on Guideline 13

“In the interest of transparency and to enable research to be referred to and reused by others, whenever possible researchers make the research data and principal materials on which a publication is based available in recognised archives and repositories in accordance with the FAIR principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable). Restrictions may apply to public availability in the case of patent applications. If self-developed research software is to be made available to third parties, an appropriate licence is provided. In line with the principle of “quality over quantity”, researchers avoid splitting research into inappropriately small publications. They limit the repetition of content from publications of which they were (co-)authors to that which is necessary to enable the reader to understand the context. They cite results previously made publicly available unless, in exceptional cases, this is deemed unnecessary by the general conventions of the discipline.