Principles for good scientific conduct

Principles for Good Scientific Practice:

All research carried out at DTU must be of high quality and reliability. A part of conducting reliable research of high quality is compliance with the principles for good scientific practice. These principles are understood partly through a description of unwanted behaviours, defined as either scientific misconduct or questionable research practice, and partly through guidelines for what behaviours are wanted in connection with e.g. publishing research results and attribution of authorship. In 2015, DTU ratified the Danish code of conduct for research integrity and has, based on this, formulated its own DTU code of conduct.

Good scientific practice is defined by three overarching principles:

  • Honesty
  • Transparency
  • Accountability

The DTU code of conduct covers six main aspects of good scientific practice:

  • Research planning and conduct
  • Data management
  • Publication and communication
  • Authorship
  • Collaborative research
  • Conflicts of interest

Aside from these main areas, which can also be found in the Danish code of conduct, the DTU code of conduct features several specific examples of how researchers at DTU should adhere to the general guidelines.

Failure to comply with the principles for good scientific practice may constitute questionable research practice or scientific misconduct.

What is questionable research practice?

Questionable research practice is defined in the law on scientific misconduct as

‘Any breach of commonly accepted standards for responsible conduct in research, including the standards described in the Danish code of conduct for research integrity and other relevant institutional, national or international practices and guidelines for integrity in research’.

Questionable research practices are behaviours which may negatively influence the quality of the research conducted, or which at the very least may raise questions about its credibility. An important thing to understand about questionable research practices is that they may occur even if there is no intention to deceive, but simply as a result of carelessness. Examples of questionable research practice are;

  • Conscious or unconscious bias
  • Sloppy research methods or analyses
  • Ignoring ethical guidelines
  • Denying attribution of authorship to qualifying contributors

Thus, questionable research practice represents a grey area between ideal behaviour and scientific misconduct. Cases of questionable research practice are handled internally at DTU, see guidelines for further information.

What is scientific misconduct?

Scientific misconduct is a deliberate or grossly negligent breach of the standards for scientific conduct in scientific research. The law on scientific misconduct defines this through three types of unacceptable behaviour.

  • Fabrication: Unreported construction of data or substitution for fictitious data.
  • Falsification: Manipulation of research material, equipment or processes, as well as changing or leaving out data or results, whereby the research appears misleading.
  • Plagiarism: Acquisition of other people’s ideas, processes, results, text or special terms without appropriate accreditation.

Cases of scientific misconduct will be forwarded to the Danish committee for scientific misconduct. See guidelines for handling suspicions regarding misconduct and questionable research practice for further information about this process.

Danish committee for scientific misconduct

In Denmark, cases involving scientific misconduct are handled by the Danish committee for scientific misconduct. The committee only handles cases, which are significant for Danish research, meaning cases involving research conducted at a Danish institution, by Danish scientists or research financed by Danish funding bodies.

A case can be raised by submission of a formal complaint, or you can request that the committee take up a case, in order for you to be cleared of charges in the form of circulating rumors. Each year the committee produces an annual review of their decisions.

DTU’s principles for good scientific practice


It is assumed that DTU’s employees are familiar with the national and international standards for good scientific practice, and that they themselves take responsibility for complying with these standards. For new employees, including PhD students, a course in good scientific practice is obligatory.


As described in DTU’s research policy, the educations provided by the University are research-based. They train the students in the scientific approaches to research, teach them to assess research results constructively and critically, and mature and convert new knowledge from research and innovation into student skills. This means that teachers hold the responsibility for including content on good scientific practice in the individual courses and in their guidance on student assignments in the same way that good laboratory practice is taught during courses.

It has become clear that plagiarism of assignments from the internet is a growing problem. For this reason, DTU employs anti-plagiarism software in the assessment of assignments and projects. Reports are submitted via CampusNet and will automatically be screened for plagiarism.

PhD students

It is important that the adherence to good scientific practice continues during the PhD. Namely the rules for authorship attribution and principles for citation should be discussed between the PhD student and their supervisor.

Laboratory books

DTU considers laboratory books as a useful tool in documenting research results, reproducibility and completion of experiments. The use of laboratory books is recommended as a means of self-auditing in research and public sector consultancy.


Providing students with knowledge about good scientific practice must be a natural part of the teaching activities. Students should be able to demonstrate understanding of the principles for good scientific practice through their projects and their conduct during courses.

Case processing

The Dean of Research is responsible for compliance with the principles for good scientific practice at DTU. Any internal cases regarding non-compliance with the rules for good scientific practice by an employee can be raised with the DTU Research Integrity Officer in the Office for Research and Relations (AFR) with involvement of the Office for Innovation and Sector services (AIS).

Breach of the rules by students will be handled by the Office for Study Programmes and Student Affairs (AIS) in accordance with the regular disciplinary standards for DTU.

Breach of the rules for good scientific practice by an employee is assessed and evaluated in accordance with the standard rules that relate to personnel.

Awarded degrees may be reconsidered.

If employees require assistance in connection with e.g. misuse of their results by an external party, the Office for Innovation and Sector Services can also be contacted.


Merian Skouw Haugwitz-Hardenberg-Reventlow

Merian Skouw Haugwitz-Hardenberg-Reventlow Senior Executive Research Integrity Officer Office for Research, Advice and Innovation