January 24, 2020

Meet the New Scientific Ombuds at the Max Delbrück Center

Udo Heinemann and Jens Reich were appointed in September 2019 as the first Ombudspersons for Good Scientific Practice at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (Max-Delbrück-Centrum für Molekulare Medizin). MDC Berlin is one of the world's leading research institutes for molecular biology and genetics. Heinemann and Reich serve as a confidential resource for MDC faculty, researchers, and PhD students with concerns about research misconduct.

Udo Heinemann is a leading researcher in the field of X-ray crystallography. Jens Reich is also a Professor at MDC Berlin and a member of the German Ethics Council. In addition to his research, he also became famous as a civil rights campaigner in the last decade of the German Democratic Republic. They were interviewed about their work for the MDC Berlin newletter.
Does it require courage to be a PhD student and take a conflict with a supervisor or a colleague to an ombudsperson? Young researchers are in a dependent relationship, after all.
It shouldn’t require any courage to take the first step. Everything remains confidential. Anyone who comes to us can absolutely depend on that promise. An ombudsperson is often a kind of agony aunt that acts as a neutral party. We provide our opinion or advice that might de-escalate the problem. However, as the conversation moves on, we regularly pose the question of how we should proceed. Should we confront the boss or colleague who is being reported? Should we do it together, or should the ombudsperson do it alone? We put our heads together with the person who is making the complaint to decide how we might proceed. When we do take action, it’s always by mutual agreement.
(MDC Berlin News.)

Related posts: Comprehensive Pneumology Center in Munich Creates Ombuds Program; German White Paper on Scientific Practices has Fostered University Ombuds Programs; Ombuds at Universität Münster Explains His Work with Junior Faculty; German Higher Ed Ombuds to Meet in September 2019.

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