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Ethical guidelines for academia

Academic integrity involves following the ethical principles and standards adopted by higher-education institutions. Benum (2003) demonstrates, among other things, that academic integrity at universities is associated with some specific values:

  • Academic freedom is linked to freedom of research. A university should promote research and the pursuit of knowledge without regard to market forces.
  • Everyone should be able to seek knowledge, and knowledge should be available to all. Accordingly universities should be of general benefit to society.
  • Universities are fundamental for democracy because they encourage members of society to form their own opinions regarding societal problems and challenges.

The credibility of research at higher-education institutions depends on reflective attitudes to research ethics and formal requirements for papers and theses. Following principles of academic integrity requires knowledge of research ethics, citation ethics, and copyright, as well as correct research methodology and scholarly writing practices.

Research ethics

Research ethics comprises:

  • Internal ethical standards developed and upheld by the researchers themselves
  • External ethical standards supervised by, among others, the Research Council of Norway

According to the internal ethical:

  • Knowledge is common property
  • Knowledge is to be sought independently of political and ideological issues
  • All findings will be submitted to critical examination by peers.
  • Anyone becoming ethically worried about a project she or he is working on has the right to have these worries heard by an independent committee.

External standards exist to protect individuals and society. Projects should through their purpose or methodology comply with socially accepted values. These demands must be met:

  • Projects cannot break Norwegian law
  • They must not create problems of military or defence character
  • Sufficient attention must be paid to protection of environment and animals.

The following requirements apply if your research involves human participants:

  • Researchers are held responsible to each and every one.
  • All personal data must be adequately anonymised.
  • Human participation in an experiment is only permissible if any risk involved is reasonably balanced by the prospective benefit.
  • Research should first be done on such persons as are best suited (healthy adults), progressing from there to more vulnerable groups, if this will benefit them.
  • Proper consent must be obtained from participants. The granting of consent must not in any way be influenced by any direct or indirect coercion.
  • Research projects must not control or manipulate persons
  • Researchers and students who are intending to carry out a project involving the processing of personal data must complete a notification form and send it to the Data Protection Official for Research.

Research committees are responsible for ensuring that projects comply with the above requirements before research commences. You must also ensure that your thesis complies with the above requirements.

The following commitees on ethical guidelines can be found in Norway:

Source: www.etikkom.no/en/In-English/

Last updated: April 10, 2013

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