It is always important to make sure that one’s research lives up to the demands of different stakeholders, like employers, funding agencies, and authorities. In collaborative projects involving different kinds of participants, this usually becomes more complicated.

Different research institutions may have their own specific guidelines, and funding agencies and national authorities may impose varying requirements on how the research is to be carried out. When it comes to international collaborations, it is also crucial to ensure that all participants are informed about relevant rules and legislation in force in the involved countries. Even if there is wide international agreement concerning the core principles of good research practice, there are significant differences when it comes the details, and how these principles are implemented in legislation and ethical review procedures etc. In view of this, it is difficult to issue any detailed and generally valid recommendations, but here follows a list of some things that are good to keep in mind:

  • The Swedish Ethical review act (Lag om etikprövning av forskning som avser människor 2003:460 is geographically applicable in Sweden. All research conducted in Sweden (to which the legislation otherwise applies) is subject to ethical review in accordance with the law, even if it is funded or conducted by an actor from another country.
  • Actors from other countries sometimes require guarantees that certain organs, structures or procedures are in place at the collaborating institutions, e.g. ethics review committees, and guidelines and procedures for handling suspicions of misconduct. In order to avoid potential misunderstandings, it is essential to make sure that information about the all relevant regulations are clearly communicated to all participants. (For information about rules and regulations in different European countries, see European Network of Research Integrity Offices and European Network of Research Ethics Committees.)
  • In all kinds of collaboration, one needs to regulate the availability of research data for the participants. It is of course crucial that one has access to one’s own data, but it is also important to ensure that one is in a position to share the material with other researchers for scientific review, as well as with investigating organs or authorities in case of allegations of misconduct. Stockholm University offers support services for handling, storing, publishing and preservation of research data (information about these services is available here).
  • One must ensure that all the concerned actors are aware of the relevant rules and regulations concerning public access and secrecy. This is especially important when it comes to international collaborations, in which the legislation may vary across the countries involved.
  • One must of course observe the usual requirement on how personal data are handled. If one needs to transfer such material to other countries, special rules apply. (More information is available at the Swedish Data Protection Authority’s website.)

 

If you have questions about these matters, or if you need advice about ethical issues in connection with a collaborative project, please contact the ethics support function at the Research Support Office.