Research Ethics

Research ethics guidelines

There are a number of national and international research ethics guidelines, also in various subject areas. In addition, UiB has its own ethical guidelines.

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Eivind Senneset/UiB

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In national research ethics guidelines, research ethics is defined as “values, principles, norms and institutional arrangements that together contribute to constituting and regulating scientific activities”.  

The guidelines include responsibility for good scientific practice, responsibility for individuals and groups that are involved in or are influenced by research, and responsibility for the use of knowledge in society and the environment.  

Research ethics guidelines are concretisations of recognised research ethics norms.  

Recognised research ethics norms  

Recognised research ethics norms are guidelines for ethically sound and responsible research, and can be linked to values or principles.

They can be divided into three areas:  

  • Good scientific practice norms: Norms that are linked to the search for truth in research (academic freedom, independence and transparency) and regulate the relationship between researchers. The purpose is to ensure reliable knowledge development. Scientific knowledge arises when individuals contribute their insights, based on insights provided by others, and by subjecting research to critical scrutiny. Respecting the contributions of others, correct crediting, criticism and impartiality are therefore important.  
  • Responsibility for individuals and groups: Norms that regulate the relationship with individuals, animals and groups that are influenced directly or indirectly by the research. The purpose is to ensure that research benefits individuals and prevents human rights violations and other harm. This purpose can be summed up in the principles of respect, good consequences and fairness.  
  • Responsibility for the use of knowledge in society and the environment: Norms regarding the overarching social responsibility of research, such as implications for society, social relevance, user interests and the responsibility of academia to maintain a well-functioning public debate. The purpose is to ensure that research benefits society and does not harm individuals, society and the environment. Therefore, the principles of respect, good consequences and fairness are key. The principle of precaution and sustainability are relevant in the assessment of possible consequences that research may have for individuals, society and the environment.  

Read more on the National Research Ethics Committees website

General research ethics guidelines    

The general research ethics guidelines have been drawn up by the National Research Ethics Committees, and serve as a gateway to research ethics principles and considerations.    


  • Respect: Persons participating in research, as informants or otherwise, must be treated with respect.   
  • Good consequences: As a researcher, one must strive to ensure that one’s activities have good consequences, and that possible adverse consequences are acceptable.   
  • Fairness: Every research project must be fairly designed and executed.   
  • Integrity: Researchers are obligated to follow recognised norms and to act responsibly, openly and honestly towards colleagues and the public.   

See the full overview on the National Research Ethics Committees website

European research integrity guidelines   

The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity has been developed by All European Academies (ALLEA), and is an important resource for work on research integrity in Europe. They are incorporated into Horizon Europe, the EU framework programme for research and innovation (Article 19 Ethics), and are particularly relevant for projects that are interdisciplinary and international.    

The European guidelines for research integrity supplement Norwegian legislation and the research ethics guidelines in various areas. In Norway, we have traditions and systems for research ethics and the investigation of misconduct.  The term research integrity encompasses both of these, and refers to practices and systems intended to ensure the integrity of the research itself.   

Applications for funding from the EU must therefore cover both research ethics and research integrity, as formulated in these guidelines. In Norway, both the Research Council of Norway and the regional health authorities use these as a basis for funding research.   

Research ethics for subject areas   

In addition to general guidelines, the National Research Ethics Committees have also drawn up subject-specific guidelines for various subject areas:   

The Research Ethics Act 

The Act concerning the organisation of work on ethics and integrity in research (the Research Ethics Act) was adopted in 2017. The Research Ethics Act lays down rules for how research ethics work is to be organised and who is responsible. The content of research ethics, i.e. what constitutes good scientific practice, is not regulated. It is up to the research community itself to clarify this.  

The Act states that individual researchers and research institutions are responsible for ensuring that all research is conducted in accordance with recognised norms of research ethics.   

Ethical guidelines at UiB 

The University Board adopted 10 ethical rules for the University of Bergen in 2006. The rules are based on the ethical guidelines drawn up by the National Research Ethics Committees. They have developed both general and subject-specific guidelines which refer to international norms. Scientific work at the University of Bergen must respect and follow these guidelines.     

The ethical guidelines involve:     

  • Academic freedom and responsibility  
  • Expertise   
  • Integrity and reliability   
  • Responsibility for academic supervision   
  • Transparency   
  • Projects that are relevant to many people   
  • Multiple authors   
  • Conflicts of interest and impartiality   
  • Conflict resolution