News from the Senior Management Team no. 11/2015

New guidelines on responsible conduct of research at AU

The senior management team has just approved university-wide guidelines and a new set of rules for responsible conduct of research at AU. This is the result of a thorough process including consultations at the departments and centres and in the academic councils.

The guidelines and the rules have been developed on the basis of international recommendations for the area and the new Danish guidelines in the Danish Code of Conduct for Research Integrity.

It means that Aarhus University will have:

  • A university-wide policy on research integrity
  • Clear and precise discipline-specific standards for responsible conduct of research
  • Mandatory training in responsible conduct of research at all levels
  • A clear procedure for handling suspicion of breach of responsible conduct of research
  • Special advisers on research integrity

A new committee, training and special advisers

A new measure is that special advisers on responsible conduct of research will be appointed at each faculty from whom all employees and students will be able to obtain confidential and professional advice in questions relating to responsible scientific practice and questions of research ethics, including any suspicion of breaches.

The special advisers must be experts who possess considerable insight into responsible scientific practice and fundamental values and principles of research-ethics. Moreover, a Committee for Responsible Conduct of Research will be appointed, comprising two members from each faculty. The committee will replace the former Research Practices Committee.

Training in responsible conduct of research will also be boosted at AU, and efforts are being made to develop mandatory PhD courses.

Two new deputy directors will start on 1 May

Two new deputy directors have been hired to head AU IT and Digital Media and AU Research Support and External Relations from 1 May.

John Westensee, who has been acting deputy director of AU Research Support and External Relations since autumn 2014, will continue in the position. John Westensee has more than 20 years of experience with research support, and previously headed AU's Research Support Office. 

The new deputy director of AU IT and Digital Media is Peter Bruun, who comes to AU from a position as head of IT operations in Central Denmark Region. Peter Bruun has more than fifteen years of experience within IT and management.

New data reports to help develop AU's degree programmes

The systematic work of developing the individual degree programmes at AU will now be supported by a database which can be used for extracting reports with key figures at degree programme level. For example, data on first-year drop-out rates, average marks, pass rates etc.

The new database makes it easier and less time-consuming to find the latest education statistics, and it will be possible to gain an overview of developments in key areas and to follow them over time. The reports also make it possible to compare data on a particular degree programme with other degree programmes at AU or with national key figures quickly and easily.

By making sufficient evidence available, the new database will support the annual status review process for each degree programme and the more in-depth evaluation of the degree programmes which is to take place every five years, and which is a key focus area in AU's effort to obtain institutional accreditation. 

AU Student Administration and Services is currently cooperating with the studies administration offices at each faculty on rolling out the database and making data and reports on individual degree programmes available to the departments and centres.

Two department heads stepping down at Aarhus BSS

Allan Würtz and Karen Brunsø are stepping down as department heads at Aarhus BSS on 1 April,  and returning to research posts at the Department of Economics, Logistics and Finance and at the Department of Marketing and Management, respectively. 

New department heads are expected to be employed during the summer. Until then, Svend Hylleberg is taking over the reins at the Department of Economics, Logistics and Finance while Per Baltzer Overgaard will serve as acting head of the Department of Marketing and Management. 

Removal of PCBs from AU’s buildings

Ten buildings at ST and BSS are currently being cleaned after moderately elevated levels of toxic PCBs were detected. These are the findings of a report which AU has just received from Danish Building and Property Agency.

The affected buildings are:

  • Buildings 1520 and 1522, Ny Munkegade 120 (ST)
  • Building 1540, Ny Munkegade 114 (ST)
  • Building 2620 and 2627, Fuglesangs Alle 4 (Aarhus BSS)
  • Buildings 1323, 1325, 1327, 1328 and 1343, Bartholins Alle 10-16 (Aarhus BSS)

The material apparently stems from old window caulking and capacitors in light fittings which will now be replaced and cleaned.

Members of staff who work in the affected buildings will be contacted directly and receive specific information about which measures to take.

The Danish Building and Property Agency has carried out the measurements that have been conducted at more than half of Aarhus University's 600 buildings. Measurements of levels of PCBs in the remaining buildings are due to be finished by the end of April.

Cleaning at ST and Aarhus BSS is expected to be completed during 2015, after which new measurements will be performed as a security measure.

New million-kroner grant to iPSYCH

The research project iPSYCH – Initiative for Integrative Psychiatric Research – has just received yet another grant from the Lundbeck Foundation, making it one of the world's biggest projects in the field of psychiatric research.

IPSYCH is a national collaboration between a total of 140 researchers from both Aarhus and Copenhagen, and was established back in 2012 with the Lundbeck Foundation as initiator and financial backer.  

The aim of the project is to identify the causes of serious mental disorders such as schizophrenia, autism, ADHD and depression.


Kind regards

The Senior Management Team

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