Research ethics – support for researchers
Research ethics is a broad area, one that encompasses everything from scientific requirements on well-executed research to expectations on respect for human rights. This page provides information about ethics in research if you work at KTH.
KTH’s Research Support Office (RSO) can provide advice and support on all matters relating to research ethics. You can contact a Research Ethics Advisor about, for example, support related to ethics reviews in connection with research applications, information sessions, dialogue about research ethics-related problems in planned or ongoing research, and dialogue about ethical guidelines and good research practice. The Life Science Platform offers specific support for applications regarding medical research on human subjects, biobanks, and animal experimentation.
What is research ethics?
Research ethics is a general term for taking a reflective, analytical and systematic approach to the management of problematic risks and relationships in research. Different fields face different challenges when it comes to research ethics, but they usually include issues relating to the risk of causing harm to or otherwise violating people or animals. The risk of damaging confidence in research is another important aspect to include. Informed consent and good data management are often essential tools in minimising the risk of human rights violations. When it comes to animals, the focus is on eliminating animal experimentation wherever possible, and on minimising their suffering if animal experimentation is unavoidable. As for maintaining confidence in research, transparency in all dealings with colleagues, management and the public is a good point of departure.
Laws and regulations
In recent decades legal aspects, such as requirements for specific ethics permits, have played an important role in tightening research ethics requirements. However, the legislation primarily aims to prevent the most serious violations and focuses on a risk analysis conducted before a project begins. KTH as a whole is responsible for preventive measures, advice, and support related to research ethics. Each researcher is responsible for ensuring that their research has the necessary ethics permits.
Another legislated aspect of research ethics addresses the use of research results by third parties in harmful or oppressive ways. Research at KTH is often technical, with broad applications. For this reason, it is particularly important to prevent research being applied in ways that are oppressive, harmful or offensive. More on the regulation of dual-use technology can be found on KTH’s website for export control.
In practice and in addition to legal requirements, research communities have a great responsibility to fill the concept of research ethics with content in such a way that scientific and legal requirements, as well as ethical discernment, are integrated into the same practice.
When is an ethics review needed?
Use KTH’s checklist to determine whether your research requires an ethics review under Swedish law. If you are still unsure, please contact the advisors below for advice and support.