A01 A02 A03 A04 A05 A06 A07 A09 A10 A11 A12 A13 A14 A18 A19 A21 F01 F02 INF Ö

Research culture

"Hidden Species" by Sandra Süß (A07)

A number of tasks are linked to the group’s responsibility for research. On the one hand, there is an obligation to promote young researchers », to whose advancement great attention is paid in the SFB 1280. In addition, there are topics that cannot speak for themselves: The proper handling of research data, a constant application reference of our research, Open Science and the topic of animal experiments.

The DFG’s “Principles of Good Scientific Practice” »  describe a national standard that governs the self-image of critically reflective research. Lege artis means working methodically at the highest technical level, documenting all results in a sustainable manner and discussing them self-critically, and is an applied right and duty of scientific autonomy in research. The SFB 1280 anchors these rules across all levels of the research network.

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Reserch Data Management

Sharing data from 18 subprojects at four sites efficiently and securely is one challenge. Integrating and meta-analyzing the sometimes fundamentally different data sets, from mouse behavioral observations to a human EEG, is another.

Therefore, the SFB’s Data Management Board » includes members from all status groups and all SFB sites, as well as members of the focus groups and Project INF. Together, this body develops the necessary framework and standards for data collection, documentation and dissemination in the SFB, taking into account the FAIR principles. In this process, the focus groups take an important steering position, as they collect, process and evaluate research data from all other subprojects. The project INF develops workflows for the quality assurance of research data in the SFB as well as for their storage and backup for at least 10 years in the central infrastructure of the RUB.

View of the structure of the research data management system of the RUB
"By engaging beyond the boundaries of the SFB, we are helping in establishing research data management as a central topic in everyday university work."
Nina Winter
Projectlead in Project INF
"International standards provide the essential framework for comprehensible and communicable research data."
Marlene Pacharra
Data Steward in Project INF

This coordination process resulted in a policy for research data management (RDM) » in the SFB, which was approved by all project leaders in September 2021. The policy was developed, formulated and elaborated by project INF in collaboration with the Data Management Council in several feedback loops with all SFB researchers.

The policy refers to a dynamic internal knowledge base », so that specific requirements can be adapted with regard to changing needs of the researchers as well as developments in the community. It covers ethical and legal constraints, including data protection, open science, data documentation and organization, quality assurance, collaboration and data sharing, and archiving of the SFB’s work.

Sustainability in the SFB’s RDM is ensured by applying established standards and co-developing institutional, technical solutions. For example, imaging experiments store their data using the Brain Imaging Data Structure (BIDS) and the SFB’s central metadata schema includes a mapping to the established bibliographic standards DublinCore and DataCite in the form of the SFB’s MetaDataApp ».

For the SFB, project INF supports as a use case the development of the RUB’s own research data repository », which will allow the management of research data according to FAIR principles, as well as their preservation for 10 years according to DFG guidelines and the public publication of research data. In this context, all RDM activities of the SFB 1280 will be carried out in close collaboration with the central research data management group of the RUB » and will be networked with international RDM communities in the field of neuroscience.

Open Science

“Open Science means using the tools of the digital age for good scientific practice, thereby strengthening quality assurance, efficient reproducibility, transparency, and inclusive accessibility.”

(UNESCO, 2020)

The SFB 1280 is strongly committed to Open Science (see SFB Research Data Management Policy ») and follows several related approaches such as Open Access, Open Software and Open Data, i.e. the free and public provision of publications, research software and research data. The SFB 1280 is represented on the research data platform Zenodo.org with a community website ». In the future, the Open Science Contributions of the SFB 1280 will be collected there.

Furthermore, all researchers of the SFB are strongly encouraged to register their hypotheses and experimental designs in advance (“pre-registration”). All Open Science activities in the SFB must always take into account the high requirements of data protection, the ethical and legal framework (e.g. patient data).

Therefore, the SFB Open Science working group is developing Open Science best practices in the SFB together with project INF ». Project INF advises SFB researchers on community open science standards and develops technical workflows for easy and sustainable publication of research data and software.

SFB researchers are networked both locally and nationally on the topic of Open Science (e.g. German Reproducibility Network » and interest group IGOR of the German Psychological Society »).

Since early 2023, SFB junior researchers organize the regular journal club “ReproducibiliTEA” » to discuss various topics, works and ideas to improve science, reproducibility and the Open Science movement. More information about the Journal Club is available on the project page at the Center for Open Science ».

The Open Science working group is constantly working on improving and using the Open Science best practices of SFB 1280.

Contact: sfb1280data@rub.de

The monthly Journal Club ReproducibiliTEA discusses questions such as:

  • What is Open Science?
  • And what does reproducibility mean?
  • Why do we need it?



The SFB 1280 investigates the fundamentals of learning and forgetting. Most of the research groups are investigating processes on a fundamental basis, of which it is uncertain if and when this work might one day help medicine to make a breakthrough. The SFB 1280 always considers this future in its activities, but science develops too unpredictably for a concrete promise of societal benefit to be possible. The motivation of basic research remains first and foremost a research drive for knowledge.

Each SFB 1280 study penetrates a very small-scale extinction learning puzzle. In attempting to solve the big picture, concrete medical applications loom large:

Areas in which extinction learning insights can be applied

Anxiety patients

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health condition among Europeans. According to the latest estimates, there are 61.5 million people suffering from anxiety in relation to a population of 514 million (Wittchen et al., 2011 »). Their suffering is treated each year with drugs worth 74.4 trillion euros (Gustavsson et al., 2011 »).

Subprojects A06 » and A13 » are working specifically on research into mechanisms of fear extinction and new possibilities in phobia therapy.

Pain patients

Two out of ten people experience continuous physical pain. The spectrum of chronic conditions is wide, and lower back pain is one of the most widespread common diseases (Breivik et al., 2006 »). On average, a pain patient must stay away from work 15.6 days a year because he or she is physically unable to do so.

Subprojects A10 » and A11 » are specifically working to explore principles of extinction learning in the context of chronic pain.

Animal ethics

“Animal experiments are indispensable in basic biological and medical research – thus a classic dilemma exists, since gaining knowledge for the benefit of humans is associated with the burden on animals.”

(Gerhard Heldmaier, Chairman of the Senate Commission on Animal Experimental Research, DFG, 2016)

In SFB 1280 there are projects that investigate complex cause-effect relationships in animals. Pigeon, raven crow, rat and mouse are valuable model organisms on which we can investigate the fundamentals of learning.

The preconditions for an animal experiment are high: each experiment must be planned in great detail, prepared and explicitly justified per animal in order to be approved by the NRW State Office for Nature, Environment and Consumer Protection (LANUV). On site, the studies are supervised by the university animal welfare officers and strictly controlled by the veterinary office.

The use of animal experiments functions according to the 3R principle: Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement. Published in 1959 by British scientists as a principle of experimental work, they oblige to reduce the number of animals and experiments to a minimum (Reduction), to keep their stress to a minimum at all times (Refinement) and to use alternative methods wherever possible (Replacement).

Different perspectives on the topic from the media:

Article “Is animal research still necessary?” (german)

Critical feature on Deutschlandfunk

Video “Animal suffering for research – Do we still need animal experiments?“ (german)

Critical feature on a documentary by the Y-Kollektiv

Brochure “Animal testing in research”

Info booklet of the German Research Foundation

Website Understanding animal testing” (german)

Science information initiative

Scientific Paper “The pigeon as a model species” 

Article why the RUB Department of Biopsychology works with pigeons.

Article 8 Responses to the situation at the RUB (german)

Answers to the central questions about animal experiments at the RUB

Pages of our animal welfare officers