Good Scientific Practice: Developing a Curriculum for Medical Students in Germany

  • Katharina FuerholzerEmail author
  • Maximilian Schochow
  • Florian Steger


German medical schools have not yet sufficiently introduced students to the field of good scientific practice (GSP). In order to prevent scientific misconduct and to foster scientific integrity, courses on GSP must be an integral part of the curriculum of medical students. Based on a review of the literature, teaching units and materials for two courses on GSP were developed and tested in a pilot course. The pilot course was accompanied by a pre-post evaluation that assessed students’ knowledge and attitudes towards scientific integrity and scientific misconduct. A syllabus was designed that comprised the following six topics: theoretical foundations of GSP; scientific publishing; empirical data; scientific supervision and teamwork; clinical research; personal interests. The comparison pre versus post-intervention yielded statistically significant changes in regard to the participants’ knowledge and attitude toward all forms of scientific misconduct treated in the course. As the majority of participants was not familiar with the fundamental regulations or guidelines of GSP, it seems crucial to train students in actively applying such norms to real-world conflicts. Students’ unfamiliarity with the fundamentals of GSP can be linked to the fact that many students have already experienced forms of scientific misconduct. Thus, GSP syllabi should be closely adjusted to a student’s realm of experience. All in all, courses on GSP can be seen as a potential means to increase the number of young scholars.


Good scientific practice Scientific integrity Scientific misconduct Problem-based learning Curriculum development Medical ethics in Germany 



The authors wish to thank Ulm University for funding the teaching project and the concomitant research. Also, the authors wish to thank Professor Richard Peter for supervision of statistical analysis. For language proof of the manuscript, the authors thank Pranab Rudra. Finally, the authors thank all the students who participated in the evaluation.

Author Contributions

FS developed the concept of the teaching project, and critically revised the teaching units, teaching materials, pre-post-evaluation, and the manuscript. MS contributed to developing the concept of the teaching project, and revised the teaching units, teaching materials, pre-post-evaluation, and the manuscript. KF designed and carried out the teaching units, materials and pre-post evaluation, performed the statistical analysis, and wrote the first draft of the manuscript. All authors approved the final version of the submitted manuscript.


The teaching project “Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice in the Curriculum of the History, Philosophy and Ethics of Medicine” was funded as “Teaching project human medicine 2017/18. Section 3: Improvement of the scientific competence of medical students” [“Lehrprojekt Humanmedizin 2017/18. Teilbereich 3: Stärkung der Wissenschaftlichen Kompetenz der Medizinstudierenden”] by Ulm University. Project lead: Florian Steger.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research Involving Human Participants and/or Animals

Not applicable. For this type of study formal consent is not required. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

Not applicable.

Availability of Data and Materials

The datasets supporting the conclusions of this article are included within the article. Additional datasets used and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on request.

Supplementary material

11948_2018_76_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (968 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 967 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for the History, Philosophy and Ethics of MedicineUlm UniversityUlmGermany

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