Ethics in research
The effectiveness and credibility of research cannot be maintained without carefully weighed consideration and active implementation of ethical standards. Ethics in research encompasses two normative systems: one to ensure good scientific practice (i.e. researcher ethics) and one to safeguard individuals and society at large (i.e. research ethics).
Researcher ethics: new Act and investigative committee
The new Norwegian Act on scientific misconduct entered into force in July 2007. The new legislation defines scientific misconduct as "falsification, fabrication, plagiarism and other serious breaches of good scientific practice that have been committed wilfully or through gross negligence when planning, carrying out or reporting on research".
In August 2007 the Ministry of Education and Research appointed a national committee to investigate cases of research misconduct. The investigative committee is chaired by Professor Johan Gjertsen of the University of Bergen. The committee was established on the basis of a recommendation submitted by a committee of experts appointed by the Research Council.
Research ethics: National Committees for Research Ethics
Research ethics is not merely a matter of concern for researchers and other knowledge workers. Research-related ethical issues affect us all. The ethical implications of research carried out today, not least within biotechnology and gene technology, is often wide-ranging and complex.
Three national committees have been established to monitor developments in Norway:
The National Committee for Medical Research Ethics (NEM)
The National Committee for Research Ethics in Science and Technology (NENT)
The National Committee for Research Ethics in the Social Sciences and the Humanities (NESH)
The committees are administered under the auspices of the Research Council. However, they operate as independent bodies, and have both advisory and informative functions. The committees work to enhance researchers' ethical awareness, encourage public debate on research-related ethical matters and ensure that Norway contributes to the establishment of international norms in this area. The committees have also been charged with the important task of developing ethical guidelines for research.