Research ethics
Research ethics is not static; it changes in step with developments in the scientific landscape. New principles are formulated and old ones reinterpreted, or used in new ways.
Photo: IStock

Research ethics

The University of Gothenburg aims to uphold the quality, integrity, and independence of research, which assumes that it is conducted in accordance with good research practice. The responsibility for this rests with management as well as with individual researchers.

Research ethics

In regard to consideration for participants and trial subjects in research projects.

Good research practice

Good research practice rests on a few fundamental principles: that we can rely on research being of high quality, that the research is conducted and reported truthfully, that it respects important societal values, and that the researcher takes responsibility for their research and its consequences. It is crucial that the public has confidence in the research being conducted.

Consequently, all research at the University of Gothenburg shall be conducted in an ethical and safe manner. 

Human research

More or less all projects involving research on humans and falling under the Ethical Review Act (Etikprövningslagen EPL, SFS 2003:460) require an ethical review by the Swedish Ethical Review Authority(Etikprövningsmyndigheten, EPM).

Animal research

A large proportion of medical research is conducted in test tubes or by using cell cultures. Animal testing is avoided as much as possible. But there are studies that require animal testing and which can give us better diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, Parkin's and stroke. 

The researcher’s conduct

Personal ethics in the pursuit of research

In research that is conducted ethically the researchers need to maintain their professional integrity. The All European Academies (ALLEA) publication “The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity” states the fundamental principles on which good research practice is based. The principles are intended to give researchers guidance on practical, ethical and intellectual problems associated with research.

Reliability in safeguarding the quality of the research, which is reflected in the design, method, analysis and use of resources.

Honesty in developing, implementing and scrutinising research, and in reporting and informing others about research in an open, fair, complete and objective way.

Respect for colleagues, research participants, society, ecosystems, cultural heritage and the environment.

Accountability for research from idea to publication, for management and organisation, for education, supervision and mentorship, and for their wider consequences.

The Ethics Committee

The task of the committee is to support researchers and management in matters that concern research ethics, such as legislation, regulations, guidelines, ethics, health, and the environment.

It was set up by the vice-chancellor in March 2021. The committee handles suspected deviations from good research practice that cannot be deemed research misconduct.

The committee’s secretary is Anna Zettergren, Ethics Administrator at the Grants and Innovation Office. She can answer questions concerning ethical reviews, good practice, requirements from research funders and research partnerships.

Read more about The Ethics Committee

Handling research misconduct

One definition of research misconduct is fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism (FFP), but there are other forms of misconduct, e.g. self-plagiarism, concealment of research findings, misuse of authority, and the lack of the required permits. Deviating from good research practices may harm the confidence in research and constitute a risk for people and the environment.

The National Board for Assessment of Research Misconduct

On January 1st 2020, a law on responsibility responsibility for good research practice and the examination of research misconduct (Act 2019: 504) entered into force. At the same time The National Board for Assessment of Research Misconduct (Npof), was established to investigate suspicions of research misconduct.

The board investigates research misconduct, cases that previously were handled by the Swedish universities. 

Research misconduct is defined in the law as a serious breach of good scientific practice in the form of fabrication, falsification or plagiarism that is committed intentionally or with gross negligence in the planning, performance or reporting of research.

Read more about the National Board for Assessment of Research Misconduct, Npof.

The Council for Examining deviations from Good Research Practice

The Council provides the Vice-chancellor of the University of Gothenburg with support in matters when there is a suspicion of misconduct in research or other deviations from good research practice.

The Council only handles cases commissioned the Vice-chancellor. The main responsibilities of the Council are:

  • Conduct an initial assessment of suspected research misconduct or other deviations from good research practice and provide a recommendation to the vice-chancellor
  • Investigate suspicions of other serious deviations from good research practice and present an investigation report to the vice-chancellor.

Other serious deviations from good research practice are any such deviations that do not fall within the statutory definition. Assessment of whether such deviations are to be regarded as serious should, in the first instance, be based on the principles in The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity (published by ALLEA).

Read more about the Council for Examining deviations from Good Research Practice.

More information:

Contact regarding the website
Editor: Allan Eriksson