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Scientific principles

The University of Cologne is committed to its social and scientific responsibility. It has developed academic principles that go well beyond the generally accepted standards. Researchers of all Faculties are committed to the following shared principles.

Value-driven research:

Our Research Code of Conduct

At the end of 2017, the University of Cologne adopted a university-wide Research Code of Conduct (RCC). It formulates principles according to which our research projects are conducted. The RCC represents a political commitment and is an overarching compass for all our research activities. The five values that guide us are the pursuit of knowledge, independence, conscientiousness, integrity and openness to criticism. In addition, we are concerned with the ethical responsibility of researchers when carrying out research projects as well as common standards when collaborating with third parties.

Ethically sound research

Our Ethics Committees

In experiments on and with human beings, the personal rights and health interests of the individual subjects and patients always take precedence over the quest for knowledge in the service of the general public. The Ethics Committee of the Faculty of Medicine assesses research projects on humans and epidemiological research ethically and legally. It is an independent body that is not bound by directives.

For research projects involving human subjects whose ethical assessment does not require medical expertise, the Faculty of Human Sciences (2017) and the Faculty of Management, Economics and Social Sciences (2018) have established their own Ethics Committees from which researchers can seek advice.

Responsibly conducted research

Good research practice

The University of Cologne has implemented the Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Research Practice of the German Research Foundation (DFG) of 2021 in two legally binding documents.

The Guidelines of the University of Cologne describe general principles of good research practice (GRP) and provide further guidance on the specific research process. Members of the university are obliged to follow these Guidelines. In addition, the DFG has published more detailed information on good research practice in specific academic fields.

The university has also updated its regulations for investigating academic misconduct. In such cases, both the GRP ombudsperson and the GRP office provide advice. Further information can be found here.

Research committed to animal welfare:

Guidelines for the handling of animals in research and teaching

The University of Cologne is committed to animal welfare and has therefore adopted Guidelines for the handling of animals in research and teaching in 2019. The aim is to avoid animal experiments as far as possible, to reduce the number of animals used for testing and to conduct experiments as humanely as possible. The Guidelines regulate the responsibility of researchers and staff for their actions, controlled implementation, the training of all those involved as well as an open and transparent information policy. Further information on animal experiments at the university.


Security-relevant research

In all academic fields, there is a certain danger that inherently important and useful research results can be misused for harmful purposes. On the initiative of the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the University of Cologne has therefore significantly expanded its advisory service on issues of security-relevant research since 2017. All members of the University of Cologne can contact the Commission for Advice on Security-relevant Research with Significant Hazard Potential (RSH) or the RSH ombudsperson with questions or to seek advice. Further information can be found here.

Responsibly recorded research:

Publication Guidelines

With its Publication Guidelines (2021), the University of Cologne aims to responsibly and comprehensively record all publications, patents and other written documents for the benefit of the authors. The Guidelines also contain information on how to responsibly indicate affiliation with the University of Cologne in publications.

We also recommend that all affiliates create and use an Open Researcher and Contributor iD (ORCID).
Further information can be found here.

Openly accessible research:

Open Science

The University has adopted 2023 Open Science principles, which are based on the recommendations of the League of European Research Universities (LERU). They establish Open Science as the guiding principle at the UoC. Deviations from this principle are possible under defined conditions. In future, the Open Science Center Cologne (OSCC) will serve as a hub for all Open Science activities.