Good Scientific Practice and Quality Assurance

Wooden quality stamp
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The MFO is committed to the rules of good scientific practice, in accordance with the guidelines of the Leibniz Association:

We are conscious of the responsibility that is inseparately connected to the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of science and to our own role as one of the leading social research infrastructures in the field of mathematics. In order to guarantee the compliance with the rules of good scientific practice the following procedures and organizational structures play a crucial role and will be further explained on this page.


Multi-stage decision and selection process of the scientific program

We operate with a transparent, multi-stage decision and selection process leading from a proposal to the participation of a researcher in one of the Oberwolfach programs. For this process the role of the Scientific Committee is crucial.

Decision on the program

The criteria and deadlines for proposals in our scientific programs are communicated on our webpages (see the description of the programs). Prospective organizers for research meetings or applicants for longterm research stays send their proposals and applications to the Directors of the institute. The Scientific Committee discusses all proposals and applications and decides on them in agreement with the Directors.

  • Research meetings
    For the Workshop program there is a discussion and decision on all proposals at the annual meeting of the Scientific Committee in October. The program is decided two years in advance. Mini-Workshops are dicussed and decided around 6 months in advance by the same board using means of electronic communication.
  • Longterm research stays
    Participation in one of our longterm programs (Oberwolfach Research Fellows, Oberwolfach Leibniz Fellows) is decided around 6 weeks after application by email vote.
  • Training activities
    Proposals for the Oberwolfach Seminars are discussed at the annual meeting of the Scientific Committee each year in October. The program is decided for the following year. A very special mechanism applys for the Oberwolfach Arbeitsgemeinschaft. The Arbeitsgemeinschaft receives three fixed timeslots every year. The topic of an Arbeitsgemeinschaft is chosen by democratic vote of the participants one year in advance. This is done during the running Arbeitsgemeinschaft, traditionally on Thursday evening.

Decision on participation

  • Research meetings
    Participants of Workshops and Mini-Workshops are invited by the Director of the institute upon suggestion of the organizers. With a view to our equal opportunities standards, the director checks in advance whether the proportion of female participants falls below what would be expected based on the normal proportion of female mathematicians.
  • Training activities
    The schedule and topics of the Oberwolfach Seminars are communicated by the MFO via email-newsletter, posters and website. PhD students and postdocs can apply for participation until the deadline. The selection of 25 participants according to their given information is done by the organizers in cooperation with the Vice Director. The participants are invited 2-3 months in advance of the seminar. Likewise, the schedule and topics of the Arbeitsgemeinschaften are published by the MFO via email-newsletter, posters and website. Interested researchers can apply for participation until the deadline. The selection of 50 participants according to their given information is done by the organizers in cooperation with the Director. The participants are invited 2-3 months in advance of the seminar.

Scientific Committee

The Scientific Committee is an organ of the Gesellschaft für Mathematische Forschung e.V. (GMF, Society for Mathematical Research). It is composed of about 20 to 25 internationally renowned mathematicians reflecting the full spectrum of scientific themes represented at the MFO. The members are elected by cooption for four-year terms and can spend at most two terms of office. The current members of the committee are communicated on our website. In agreement with the directors the Scientific Committee is responsible for the research planning of the MFO and discusses all scientific proposals for the programs of the MFO.

Ombudsperson system

The Leibniz code and guidelines for good research practice are intended and apply to employees at Leibniz institutes. Because of the special structure of the MFO with very few employees and with almost 3000 guest researchers per year, it is appropriate to extend the rules to the guest researchers whenever this makes sense. This is in particular the case for the presentation of own material and research at the MFO and the publication within the institute's series Oberwolfach Reports, Oberwolfach Preprints and Snapshots from Oberwolfach.

In accordance with the Leibniz rules, the MFO has installed an ombudsperson for its scientific guest researchers and employees as a point of contact for discrepancies, suspicions and matters of dispute, who investigates allegations of scientific misconduct:

Ombudsperson for the MFO:

Prof. Dr. Felix Otto, MIS Leipzig

If appropriate and necessary, the ombudsperson for the MFO will forward an allegation concerning the scientific work of a guest researcher to the ombudsperson of his/her home institution. If the ombudsperson decides that the allegations require further investigation, the case can be passed to the central ombudsperson of the Leibniz Association. If necessary the Leibniz Ombuds Committee can be contacted directly by email to or by post to Leibniz-Ombudsgremium, Leibniz-Gemeinschaft, Chausseestraße 111, 10115 Berlin.

Please note that the MFO has additionally installed an ombudsperson for equal opportunities in case of non-scientific complaints and allegations.

Scientific Advisory Board

The Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) consists of six to eight members who are internationally renowned, active external scientists and who are appointed by the Administrative Council. The Directors of the MFO and the Scientific Advisory Board can make recommendations. Members shall be appointed for a term of four years with the possibility of one re-election.

The Scientific Advisory Board holds a regular annual meeting at the MFO. Representatives of the Ministry of Science, Research and Art of Baden-Württemberg as well as of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research may participate in the meetings as guests. Meetings of the Scientific Advisory Board are attended with advisory vote by the Directors of the MFO and the chairman of the Scientific Committee of the Gesellschaft für Mathematische Forschung e.V. (GMF, running society and shareholder of the MFO) unless, in a particular case, the Scientific Advisory Board otherwise decides.

The Scientific Advisory Board advises the Administrative Council and the Directors of the MFO with regard to basic professional and interdisciplinary issues of the scientific and technical work program and the national and international co-operations. This includes

  • advice on the medium and long-term research and development planning and on the annual scientific work planning,
  • evaluation on a regular basis of the research and service performance of the individual organization units of the Institute, in dialogue with the Directors, the Scientific Committee and the scientific staff,
  • reports on evaluations to the Administrative Council,
  • advice to the Administrative Council and the Shareholders’ Meeting of the MFO on appointing the Director and the Deputy Director.

Feedback mechanisms

For the longterm quality assurance we provide multiple feedback mechanisms. These include the Director’s interview talks with the organizers each week as well as discussions with participants of the longterm programs. There is also a book of wishes in printed form as well as electronic on the website. Electronic surveys are used to support, accompany and evaluate significant changes at the institute (e.g. the modernization of the information and communication infrastructure in 2016 and the adaptation of scientific programs to the circumstances during the sars-cov-2 pandemic in 2020/2021).

Evaluation by the Leibniz Association

At regular intervals, but at the latest every seven years, the MFO is evaluated by the Senate of the Leibniz Association. The evaluation focuses on an independent assessment of how the institute has developed in the intervening years, in terms of content and structure, as well as on the persuasiveness of its plans for the future. Based on the results of the evaluation the federal and state governments verify whether the institutions united within the Leibniz Association are still in fulfilment of the requirements for joint funding. The principles of the evaluation process are explained on the webpage of the Leibniz Association in detail.

Standards and guidelines for our work