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Help and support in case of problems and conflicts

Conflicts between doctoral candidates and supervisors

While working on your dissertation project, disagreements with your supervisor may arise. If so, make an appointment with your supervisor and raise your concerns as early and informally as possible.  Misunderstandings or unspoken expectations are often the reason for negative tension and conflicts between people.

If despite everyone's best efforts problems remain unresolved, you may consider approaching or inviting a third person for a joint discussion.

You can contact the following ombudspersons of your own faculty or of any other faculty:

Do not hesitate to contact us in case of conflicts with your supervisor. We will discuss possible next steps confidentially and/or find a mediator.

Violation of Good Scientific Practice & Scientific Integrity

If you suspect your advisor or one of your colleagues of infringing the Principles of Good Scientific Practice, you are encouraged to contact the Ombudsperson who has been commissioned by the University of Cologne to provide assistance in such cases.

With the Ombudsperson you can, as a first step, discuss your suspicion. These meetings are strictly confidential and do not automatically induce any formal process. The Ombudsperson will then examine the case in more detail. If he or she finds effective evidence of scientific misconduct, the Ombudsperson will inform the internal Committee on Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice of the University of Cologne. The Committee will examine and discuss the case in still further detail and – if necessary – also hear the persons involved. If a violation of Good Scientific Practice is verified, the Committee will inform the Rector of the University of Cologne.

Should you hesitate to apply to the Ombudsperson directly, you can certainly also contact us at first. Together, we can confidentially discuss how to proceed.

Please also note our workshop offers on the topic of Good Scientific Practice.

Committee on Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice
Guidelines on Good Scientific Practice and Dealing with Academic Misconduct
(University of Cologne; in German)
Memorandum of the German Research Foundation (DFG) on Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice (English and German)

Scientific integrity is seen as a crucial prerequisite for excellent research at the University of Cologne. It refers to a necessary ethical attitude and overarching culture of honesty, whose anchoring in scientific everyday life is a central concern of the university. To promote this, a university-wide Research Code of Conduct formulates principles for research projects at the University of Cologne. It describes the guiding values of research, defines the responsibility that researchers carry in their scientific work and provides guidance in dealing with research collaborations.

Discrimination and harassment

The University of Cologne strives to be a safe, non-discriminatory and non-violent place for studying, teaching and working. Any member of its community is encouraged to take responsibility for themselves and for others. The University of Cologne does not discriminate, nor does it permit discrimination or harassment of, any individual on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, disability, citizenship, or any other classification protected by law in matters of admissions, employment, housing, or services or in the educational programs or activities it operates.

At the beginning of this year, the Directive on Discrimination, Sexualised Violence and Bullying at the UoC came into effect. This page contains all important information on the directive.

With questions and difficulties with cases of racisms and discrimination or sexual violence you can contact the relevant advice and contact points directly. In addition, each faculty of the University of Cologne has appointed a person of trust to whom you can turn in the event of discrimination based on origin, gender, sexual orientation, religion or age. There is also a representative body for severely handicapped persons. Feel free to make an appointment to discuss your concerns. If you are uncertain whom to contact or need help, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Information Information on sexualised discrimination
Contact details of the current trusted third parties
Advice and contact points

Personal issues

Pursuing a doctorate can bring challenges that you do not feel able to meet. If you experience a lot of stress, e.g. due to a conflict, make sure to seek support. The University of Cologne offers counseling services to assist you in difficult situations.
Enrolled doctoral candidates with mental health problems or stress-related complaints may turn to the Beratung & Soziale Angebote des Kölner Studierendenwerks (in German).

Employees of the University of Cologne can receive coaching and counselling at the Betriebliche Mitarbeiter*innen- und Führungskräfteberatung (in German).

If you are looking for further assistance and counseling services, please contact us.