Research ethics

Research ethics is about assessments and choices

Research shall be objective, correct and benefit the society. People, animals and the environment shall not be unnecessarily burdened.

Little Albert experiment (1920)/ John B. Watson/ Public domain
Little Albert experiment (1920)/ John B. Watson/ Public domain
Icon representing research ethics– Weighing scale

Research ethics

Research ethics is about assessments and choices

Research shall be objective, correct and benefit the society. People, animals and the environment shall not be unnecessarily burdened.

Little Albert experiment (1920)/ John B. Watson/ Public domain
Icon representing research ethics– Weighing scale

Research ethics


Responsibility for good research ethics
  • The institution shall ensure good research ethics by:
    • having good systems and procedures
    • providing necessary training
  • Deans, Heads of Centres and Heads of Departments shall ensure compliance with the regulations.
  • Project Managers shall ensure that the research in the project is conducted in accordance with regulations, good research ethics and recognised scientific and ethical principles in the field.
  • Supervisors have a special responsibility for ensuring compliance with regulations. They should communicate relevant rules relating to research ethics, be good role models and help PhD candidates and students with assessments to make the right choices.
  • Project team members, PhD candidates and students shall develop an understanding of issues relating to research ethics and have an independent responsibility for familiarising themselves with and following regulations that apply to the work to be performed.
  • Everyone is responsible for building a research culture that fosters good research practice.
The core of good research practice
  • Integrity – ensure that the research is credible and of high quality. Fabrication, forgery, plagiarism and similar serious breaches of good scientific practice are not compatible with high quality and credibility. You must also help to cultivate a culture for good research practice in your research community.
  • Impartiality – avoid role confusion and relations that can give grounds for suspecting conflicts of interest.
  • Independence – freedom in the choice of topic, method, data collection and analysis, and publication of results.
  • Transparency – make research results available to ensure verifiability and to give something back to the research participants and society at large.
Scientific misconduct

Scientific misconduct is to commit forgery, fabrication, plagiarism or other serious breaches of recognised standards of research ethics with intent or gross negligence in the planning, execution or reporting of research.

Two conditions must be met in order for an act to be considered scientific misconduct:

  • It must be proven that you have committed an act that is considered a serious breach of recognised standards of research ethics.
  • It must be proven that you have done so with intent or gross negligence.

Plagiarism in research

Plagiarism is to take something from someone, for example a text, image or dance routine, without giving them credit. Remember to always make reference to your sources when you build on other people’s work or find material elsewhere, for example on the Internet. This is good reference practice.

Examples of plagiarism:

  • Reproducing the contents of or citing from textbooks, own or other people’s articles without stating the source.
  • Rewriting other people’s texts without stating the source.
  • Building on other people’s work without stating the source.

Referring to someone else´s source references without checking the source itself is considered "reference plagiarism".

Publication, authorship and co-authorship

  • Results shall be published, both in scientific and popularised form.
  • Some limitations may follow from the duty of confidentiality, but permanent limitations cannot be agreed or stipulated unless it follows from the law.
  • You must respect other researchers' and students’ contributions and follow standards of authorship and collaboration. Each person’s contribution and the order of authors should be clarified and agreed between the co-authors as early in the process as possible.

Four main criteria for co-authorship (the Vancouver Protocol)

  • Significant contribution to the conception or design of the work, or the data collection, analysis and interpretation of data.
  • Drafting the manuscript or significant parts of it, or critical revision of the article's intellectual content.
  • Final approval of the version to be published.
  • Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

The Vancover Protocol has been prepared for medical research, but can also be followed by other disciplines if they find the rules appropriate.

Supervisors and students
  • The same requirements for authorship apply in the relationship between supervisor and student as in other contexts.
  • The supervisor must have made a significant contribution to e.g. the idea or technical solution of the student’s project assignment, in order to be credited as a co-author.
  • It is recommended that the supervisor and student’s contribution be clarified and stipulated in an agreement at the start of the project assignment or when a student contributes to a research project.
Commissioned research
  • The client’s interests shall not be given priority over the integrity and quality of the research. External guidelines shall not place constraints on the results of the research.
  • Who funds the research must be stated clearly in any publication.
Protection of people, animals and the environment

Persons taking part in research shall be treated with respect

This means that:

  • People’s integrity, freedom, right of co-determination and voluntariness shall be safeguarded.
  • Research shall be based on informed consent and information shall be provided about the right to withdraw.
  • Personal data shall not be used unnecessarily (anonymisation, de-identification).
  • Confidentiality and the duty of confidentiality shall be safeguarded.
  • Particular caution shall be exercised in connection with research on vulnerable groups or persons not able to give consent.
  • Endeavours shall be made to ensure that the research benefits the research participant and do no harm.
  • Sound recordings, video recordings and code lists that can identify research participants shall be properly secured.
  • Necessary assessment/approvals shall be obtained from the Data protection services for research (Sikt), the Regional Committees for Medical and Health Research Ethics (REK) or similar.

Protection of animals

  • Animals have inherent value and shall be treated with care and respect.
  • The necessity of performing animal experiments shall be justified.

Protection of the environment

  • Research shall not be harmful to the environment.
  • The research shall seek to help creating a good environment in the short and long term with regard to biodiversity, the stability of ecosystems and consequences for landscapes and urban environments.


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Last updated: 04. January 2024