Research ethics and good research practice
Uppsala University places great emphasis on awareness of research ethics and compliance with good research practices. Society, the public and businesses need reliable scientific results, and it is important that the public has confidence in research. To this end, it is self-evident that every researcher should ensure that irreproachable procedures are followed.
The Swedish Higher Education Act stipulates that “higher education institutions shall uphold academic credibility and good research practice”. A university or other higher education institution that is informed about suspected misconduct in research has an obligation to investigate the allegations.
How reports about misconduct in research are handled
When the University receives a report of misconduct, the Vice-Chancellor is notified, and the Vice-Chancellor refers the report to the Board for Investigation of Misconduct in Research.
- The accused researcher is informed and an inquiry begins. A reporting officer on the Board is appointed.
- The researcher is offered an opportunity to comment.
- The Board may obtain the opinions of experts, of which at least one is to be from another higher education institution. The expert’s task is to analyse certain specific issues that are important to the inquiry. During the process, additional documentation may be requested.
- The University may, if necessary, seek the opinion of the Central Ethical Review Board, but is always to do so if the person making the allegation or the person being accused desires it and it is not obviously unnecessary.
- When the experts have made their assessment, the accused individual is to be given an opportunity to comment on the assessment.
- When the inquiry is completed, the Board writes a statement of opinion for the Vice-Chancellor, who makes the final decision.
- If the allegations are confirmed, the Vice-Chancellor then decides on a process for possible penalties and disciplinary measures.
- If the study has been published, the publication concerned and any funding agency are contacted.
This applies to reports of misconduct in research received by Uppsala University beginning on 1 January 2017. The report and decisions on cases of suspected misconduct in research are public documents.
All complaints are investigated until it is determined that they clearly deal with something else or are clearly unfounded. In that case, the Vice-Chancellor decides not to investigate, based on presentation of a written report by the Chair of the Board.
All animal experiments conducted at Uppsala University have been approved in advance by the regional ethical committee on animal experiments. The committee assesses whether the benefit of the experiment outweighs the suffering the animals are expected to experience.
More about animal experiments at Uppsala University.
On 1 January 2004, the Act Concerning the Ethical Review of Research Involving Humans (2003:460) was introduced. This act applies to research involving a physical intervention on an individual or conducted in a way that could affect a person physically or psychologically and studies of biological material that can be traced back to individuals.
After a change in the law in 2008, more types of research come under the law. From this point on, research involving the processing of sensitive personal data must undergo ethical review regardless of whether or not the participant has consented, and research conducted with a method that clearly risks injuring the participant is always to be subject to ethical review. This can also apply to questionnaires or surveys.
Even if research is not covered by the law, review of the project may still be advisable. Many publications and conferences require a research ethics permit to publish research or allow delivery of a lecture. Researchers and students may want to obtain ethical advice about a project that seems sensitive in other respects than those covered by the law. In that case, a recommendation should be obtained.
For questions about Uppsala University’s overall work and strategy on research ethics and good research practice, please contact Stefan Eriksson, Adviser to the Vice-Chancellor on Good Research Practice.