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Research ethics

Published February 1, 2010

Research ethics in Norway are regulated by Act no. 56 of 30 June 2006: the Act relating to ethics and integrity in research. The purpose of the Act is to ‘ensure that research in the public and private sectors is conducted in accordance with recognised ethical standards'.

Based on this Act, research ethics committees have been set up in the fields of medicine (NEM), social sciences and the humanities (NESH) and science and technology (NENT). Various other panels and committees have also been established.

Each of these (NEM, NESH, NENT) has drawn up research ethics guidelines, and naturally SINTEF has based its own guidelines on these. SINTEF's employees are represented on all three committees.
When dilemmas of research ethics require an assessment beyond the scope of our guidelines, the guidelines mentioned above, and our Ethics Council and Ethics Representative, we refer to statements from the European Group on Ethics in New Science and Technology (EGE).
The national research ethics committees publish the newsletter "Forskningsetikk", which reports on and discusses current research ethics issues.

Research ethics topic:
The research ethics guidelines for science and technology state that:
” 22. Research institutions are obliged to have in place independent mechanisms that can support employees in whistleblowing situations”.

It is important for all the parties involved in a whistleblowing situation to be part of an impartial process.
The grounds for the conflict must be investigated by an independent authority, where the whistleblower is protected from unreasonable or untimely reactions.

This entails that:
a) Research institutions have in place mechanisms enabling whistleblowing conflicts in the institution to be investigated independently.
b) The researchers at the institution are aware of these mechanisms. ”

At SINTEF, we have a channel for whistleblowing (the Ethics Representative), and we are currently establishing procedures for handling any suspicions of matters such as dishonesty.