It is important that all researchers know when it is necessary to have permission from, or to apply for review by, an ethical review board, an ethical committee on animal experiments, the Data Inspection Board or the Medical Products Agency.
It is also necessary to know which rules apply to material documentation and archiving. This is important to be able to verify results and prove that there was no cheating, and so that other researchers will be able to use the material in their research.
All research in which personal information (according to the Personal Data Act, PUL) is used without people having been able to provide permission, and research that causes physical or mental effects, must be reviewed by an ethical review board. There are other categories of research that must also be reviewed.
An application for ethical review should be made by the research principal. The research principal is the public authority (for example a higher education institution with the State as head) or the physical or legal entity where or in which the research is carried out. The vice-chancellor may delegate this responsibility, for example to the heads of department. The ethical review must be completed and approved before research can begin.
Ethical reviews have been regulated by law since 2004. It is primarily the supervisor’s responsibility to ensure that the doctoral student’s research is the subject of an ethical review. Naturally, the law also applies to students and doctoral students, but only to the extent that their work is part of a doctoral thesis or is considered to be a research project intended for publication in an academic journal.
Ethical review boards
Ethical reviews are held in one of the six regional ethical review boards. The offices of the regional boards are located at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm and at the universities in Gothenburg, Linköping, Lund, Umeå and Uppsala. Each board is an independent authority.
Decisions made by the regional ethical review boards may be appealed to the Central Ethical Review Board. A regional ethical review board that is unable to come to an agreement may also transfer a case to the Central Ethical Review Board for a decision. The Central Ethical Review Board also has a supervisory function.
Central Ethical Review Board
Ethical committees on animal experiments
Sweden has seven regional ethical committees on animal experiments. These review research that utilises animal testing. Applications for ethical review are administered by the Swedish Board of Agriculture.
Information about ethical reviews of animal testing on the Swedish Board of Agriculture’s website (in Swedish)
Cheating, or research misconduct, is when researchers deviate from good research practice, such as by plagiarising other research or presenting misleading results.
Investigating and punishing cheating is the task of each HEI. A doctoral student who discovers irregularities should initially approach the head of department or someone in faculty management. This person has an obligation to take the matter to the vice-chancellor.
If requested by a state HEI that is subject to the Higher Education Act, an expert group in the Central Ethical Review Board may make statements on cases that relate to investigations of suspected misconduct in research, artistic research and development work.
About the Expert group for misconduct in research on the Central Ethical Review Board website