The University of Helsinki abides by the guidelines of the Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity on the responsible conduct of research and procedures for handling allegations of misconduct as well as on ethical review in human sciences. The responsibility for abiding by good scientific practice rests with the research community as a whole and with each individual researcher.
The premises for the responsible conduct of research are the following:
The ethical review of research serves two purposes: it protects the research subjects and safeguards the researcher’s legal protection. Many research funding agencies and publishers require that an ethical review be conducted.
The ethics of non-medical research is assessed by the University’s own research ethics committees. The University of Helsinki has two committees dealing with research ethics: the Ethics Review Board in the Humanities and Social and Behavioural Sciences and the Viikki Campus Research Ethics Committee. Besides conducting reviews, the committees offer guidance in questions concerning research ethics and assist in resolving problem situations involving research ethics.
The research ethics of medical studies is evaluated by the ethics committees of hospital districts. Approval from such a committee is a prerequisite for research, which may not be launched before the committee has submitted its statement. To acquire such statements, researchers should apply to the ethics committee of the hospital district that governs the area where the principal investigator works or where the research will primarily be conducted. The Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS) accommodates four regional ethics committees.
Violation of the responsible conduct of research refers to the disregard of responsible conduct in research and documentation of research results, as well as misconduct in research. Research misconduct includes the fabrication, falsification, plagiarism and misappropriation of research results.
At the University of Helsinki, the chancellor is in charge of inquiries concerning alleged violations of the responsible conduct of research. Allegations of such violations must be communicated in writing to the chancellor. This notification, which cannot be made anonymously, must specify the type of the alleged violation of responsible conduct of research, as well as the grounds for the allegation. The chancellor can also initiate an investigation of allegations that have come to his/her attention through other channels. The notification must be handled in accordance with the process for handling alleged violations of the responsible conduct of science, as described in detail in the guidelines issued by the Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity.
On the national level, there are several committees and boards whose mission is to coordinate and promote research ethics, harmonise practices and monitor the advancement of science. Most of these expert bodies dealing with research ethics operate under the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.