Conducting ethical research

There are a number of regulations you are obliged to follow when conducting research. Before you start your research, you must ensure you have the required permits and approvals. When you apply for a grant from the Swedish Research Council, you must state how you plan to address the legal requirements and also describe other ethical issues that arise in your research.

Describe the ethical issues raised by the research

In your application to us, you must reflect on which ethical issues are relevant in your project or equivalent. You must also report on how you plan to handle ethical problems that may arise. In the light of the ethical issues that you identify, you must justify why the research should be carried out.

Some research requires a permit

Some research may only be conducted if it has passed an ethical review.

You apply for an ethical permit for research involving humans via the Swedish Ethical Review Authority External link., in accordance with the Swedish Ethical Review Act (SFS 2003:460). The purpose of the law is to protect the individual and respect for human value in research.

You apply for an ethical permit for research involving animal experiments via an animal ethics committee External link., in accordance with the Swedish Animal Protection Act (SFS 1988:534). Animal experiments must only be conducted where no alternative methods are available.

Depending on the research you conduct, there may be requirements for other approvals or permits. This may, for example, be research that includes

  • use of ionising radiation
  • conducting a clinical trial
  • use of human material in a biobank
  • utilisation of genetic resources or associated traditional knowledge
  • dual-use products
  • handling of personal data

If you are granted funding from the Swedish Research Council, you as an applicant have a responsibility to ensure that the permits and approvals required are in place when you begin your research. The permits must not be sent to us unless we explicitly request it, however, you must state and describe in your application which approvals/permits are required, and how you plan to obtain these.

Research conducted abroad

If any part of the research is to be carried out in another country, you need to address whether there are requirements in addition to the law in force in Sweden in the country in question. Any additional permits or approvals must also be in place before the research begins.

The Swedish Research Council does not support research that is carried out abroad and which with certainty would not be allowed to be carried out in Sweden.

Follow good research practice

As a researcher, you have a responsibility to follow good research practice. The administrating organisation also has an overall responsibility for ensuring that the activities are conducted in accordance with good research practice.

You and the administration organisation confirm your joint responsibility when you approve the terms and conditions that apply to the Swedish Research Council's decision.

Read more about ethical issues

We have compiled a number of links to other websites with more information about ethical guidelines and advice on dealing with ethical issues. However, there may be other regulations that are relevant to your research, and you are responsible for knowing what applies in your particular case.

Act on the responsibility for good research practice and the examination of research misconduct (2019:504) External link.

Codex – rules and guidelines for research External link.

ALLEA – European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity External link.

SATORI – outline of an ethics assessment framework External link.

The Nagoya Protocol and the EU Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS) Regulation - guidance on the utilisation of genetic resources and/or traditional knowledge External link.

The Swedish Medical Products Agency and clinical trials External link.

The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority and ionising radiation External link.

Biobank Sweden – on using human tissue samples in research External link.

Swedish National Data Services on research on personal data External link.




  1. The Swedish Research Council is developing its work on ethics issues

    Over the last few years, many changes have occurred in the area of ethics. The Swedish Research Council is now reviewing how best to address our ethics mandate – in relation to other actors, and the needs of our own work.

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