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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.

Since the Swedish Research Council’s expert group on ethics was established in 2010, new expert public agencies and other actors have been added, such as the National Board for Assessment of Research Misconduct and the Association of Swedish Higher Education Institutions’ expert group on ethics issues. This has entailed new allocations of responsibility, and more ways of accessing knowledge and expertise on ethics issues.

To obtain a clearer picture of the role the Swedish Research Council should play in the longer term in relation to its ethics mandate, we will therefore be mapping how different research ethics issues are managed in the system today.

“But there is even now a need to integrate ethics issues to a greater extent,” says Katarina Bjelke, Director General of the Swedish Research Council.

The current expert group on ethics will therefore be replaced at the year end by an internal coordinating group and and external reference group – in the first instance for a short period while awaiting the result of the mapping. The reference group will consist of active researchers, representatives of expert public agencies and other actors. Further external expertise may be linked to the group for individual issues or assignments.

“We believe that this solution will strengthen the Swedish Research Council’s management of ethics issues, and give us better opportunities to work on our mandate. It will be easier to get help from expert knowledge that is adapted according to the type of issue in question. This is something that we have noticed a need for, as ethics issues often are complex and cover everything from practical application issues to research-related questions or matters of a more legal character, such as the consequences of cases of misconduct,” says Katarina Bjelke.

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