Ethics is given the highest priority in EU funded research: all the activities carried out under Horizon 2020 must comply with ethical principles and relevant national, EU and international legislation, for example the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the European Convention on Human Rights.
Ethical research conduct implies the application of fundamental ethical principles and legislation to scientific research in all possible domains of research – for example biomedical research, nature sciences, social sciences and humanities.
The most common ethical issues include:
- the involvement of children, patients, vulnerable populations,
- the use of human embryonic stem cells,
- privacy and data protection issues,
- research on animals and non-human primates.
It also includes the avoidance of any breach of research integrity, which means, in particular, avoiding fabrication, falsification, plagiarism or other research misconduct.
In terms of pre-award support, the Research Office will assist KTH researchers in completing the ethics sections of their H2020 proposal (as well as other grant applications), specifically the Ethical Issues Table and the Ethics Self-Assessment.
Ethical Issues Table
As part of the Horizon 2020 application, researcher must complete the Ethical Issues Table in the administrative forms on the Participant Portal (Part A). If the research involves human participants, personal data, human cells and tissue, or animals and you have identified any ethics issues in the table, you also need to submit the Ethics Self Assessment (Part B).
This part should describe how the proposal meets the national legislative and ethical best practice requirements of the country/countries where the research will be carried out. This means that within the application, researcher should identify relevant legislation (on national and EU-level) and ethical best practice guidelines relevant to the proposal and explicitly explain how the research will adhere to them.
Ethics appraisal process at the European Commission
The figure above describes the Ethics Appraisal Procedure at the European Commission from submission to project closure.
The Ethics Appraisal Procedure concerns all activities funded in Horizon 2020 and includes the Ethics Review Procedure, conducted before the start of the project, as well as the Ethics Checks and Audits.
When preparing a proposal, it is required to conduct an Ethics Self-assessment starting with the completion of an Ethics Issues Table. All proposals above threshold and considered for funding will undergo an Ethics Review carried out by independent ethics experts and/or qualified staff working in a panel.
The Review starts with an Ethics Screening and if appropriate a further analysis called the Ethics Assessment is conducted. The Ethics Review can lead to ethics requirements that become contractual obligations, which are audited, during the project life-time as well as after the project has ended.
- Identify all potential ethical “issues” in both proposal body and ethics section
- Explain how ethical issues are respected as part of the project work (not as afterthought, nor in checkbox fashion)
- Provide sufficient info to support “Yes” in Ethics table (and more in Part 4-5)
- Integrate ethical considerations into milestones and reports
- Commit project to independent ethical evaluations with reports
- Review whether this can be supported by project funds or by host institutions
More information and links to help you prepare your Ethics Self-assessment:
- Horizon 2020 online manual on ethics
- Guidande for Ethics self-assessment
- Responsible Research and Innovation: aligning R&I with European society (video)
- RRI Toolkit (webpage)
- RRI Toolkit (video)
- Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
- European Convention on Human Rights
Contact us at Research Support Office for any further questions.