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Coping with Conflicts and Challenges

While pursuing your doctoral degree you may experience professional conflicts as well as personal challenges.

Freie Universität Berlin provides advisory and counseling services to all its members, including doctoral candidates and researchers. In the following sections you will find a short overview of possible problems and information on how to obtain help.

Research Misconduct is any research practice that deviates seriously from the commonly accepted ethics/integrity standards or practices of the relevant research community and includes but is not limited to intentional fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism as defined by the University’s Code of Honor – Articles Ensuring Good Scientific Practice.

Specifically, the following acts are generally considered instances of research misconduct, although research misconduct is not necessarily limited to these:

  1. Fabrication of recording or reporting and other falsification of data, results, or source materials in publications, applications or funding proposals;
  2. Committing plagiarism or any of the other offences such as copyright infringement and violation of intellectual property rights by appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without proper acknowledgment;
  3. Obstructing research activity of others;
  4. Participating in misconduct of others or co-authorship in falsified publications;
  5. Gross negligence of one’s obligatory supervisory duties;
  6. Misleading publication:  Failing to acknowledge submission of a paper to two different publications simultaneously; failing to provide proof of prior research findings made by others; failing to appropriately include as authors other collaborators in publications who prepared his or her contribution.
  7. Not reporting the performance by another university member of any of the acts noted above;

Contacts & Support Services

Responsible for overseeing investigations into any allegations and procedures for dealing with issues of research misconduct according to the Code of Honor to Ensure Good Scientific Practice are at the departmental level the designated members of the Formal Inquiry Commission as well as the University Judiciary Office:

a)     Members of the Formal Inquiry Commission listed according to departments

b)     Office of the Judicial Administrator

Executive Board of Freie Universität Berlin
University’s Office of the Judicial Administrator (RA 4)
Kaiserswerther Straße 16-18
14195 Berlin
Tel.: ++49 030 838 737 02
Fax: ++49 030 838 737 40
E-Mail: rechtsamt@fu-berlin.de

Process that addresses allegations of research misconduct:

  1. Complaints of Research Misconduct should be reported to the designated departmental member of the Formal Inquiry Commission. 
  2. The staff member in charge conducts a preliminary inquiry in compliance with the regulations as stipulated in the official university announcements (Amtsblatt 29/2002 dated 16.12.2002).
  3. The highest possible degree of confidentiality shall be maintained regarding all allegations, inquiries and investigations and all persons involved. 
  4. If a complaint of research misconduct is deemed substantial it will be referred to the University‘s Office of the Judicial Administrator who will initiate a formal investigation.  
The official announcement of the Code of Honor – Articles Ensuring Good Scientific Practice of Freie Universität can be found here:  Amtsblatt 29/2002 der Freien Universität vom 16.12.2002. The purpose of the framework is to promote research integrity among researchers,  to define generally acceptable standards of conduct in research and to provide a process for dealing with allegations of research misconduct.

What constitutes sexual or other forms of harassment?

  • Sexist remarks, jokes, innuendoes or taunting about a person's body, appearance;
  • Leering, ogling or other sexually oriented gestures;
  • Unwanted sexual teasing, jokes, remarks, or questions;
  • Displaying of pornographic or other sexually offensive or derogatory pictures or material;
  • Unwanted pressure for sexual favors;
  • Unwelcome sexual advances or bodily conduct;
  • Persistent and unwelcome invitations;
  • Inappropriate touching and sexual assault.

Contacts & Support Services


  • Employees should report instances of possible sexual harassment or gender discrimination to the Gender Equality Officer or one of the other above mentioned support services.
  • If you witness sexual harassment you may address the victim and if appropriate, give reference to the above mentioned support services.   
  • A Sexual Harassment Complaint Process describing the steps to be followed for reporting and handling complaints has not yet been established. Because sexual harassment and gender discrimination may involve a wide range of behaviors, the way in which a given case is best handled will vary.
  • The highest possible degree of confidentiality shall be maintained regarding all allegations, inquiries and investigations and all persons involved. 
  • No action will be taken without the permission of the victim.
For more information, contact the Working Group against Sexual Harassment at the Gender Equality Office

Common concerns are:

  • lack of motivation and difficulties in setting priorities and decision-making;
  • speaking and exam anxiety;
  • writer’s block;
  •  learning disabilities und procrastination;
  • stress, depression and overload caused by excessive demands;
  • seeking professional help.

Contacts & Services

The Center for Academic Advising and Psychological Counseling provides confidential individual counseling and support, training and workshops. The staff includes licensed psychological psychotherapists as well as counseling psychologists in training.  The counselor takes reasonable steps to establish and maintain the confidentiality of information arising from service delivery.

Contact Counseling and Psychological Services for further information.

For its DRS postdoctoral fellows as well as other doctoral candidates, DRS also offers the opportunity for a first professional conflict coaching session at reduced cost (30,-€ contribution toward expenses). Priority is given to members of DRS doctoral programs. To make use of this service, please send a request to beratung@drs.fu-berlin.de with the subject "conflict coaching" and briefly outline the kind of conflict (supervision, publication, teaching, or the like) you are experiencing. The DRS will then connect you with our professional conflict coach.

Should you experience any other kind of conflict that is not covered by the above, please don't hesitate to contact the team of Dahlem Research School at beratung@drs.fu-berlin.de.