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Research Ethics and Integrity

The Faculty of Humanities attaches great importance to the integrity and ethical aspects of academic research.

Research carried out at the Faculty of the Humanities needs to adhere to the guidelines for good research practices as outlined in the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity. Furthermore, the Faculty of Humanities is committed in ensuring that research involving human subjects are conducted in a lawful, ethically acceptable, and responsible way. All research dealing with human subjects therefore need to be submitted to the Research Ethics Review Committee of the Faculty of Humanities (see below). Institutional support is available for researchers that may be faced with issues involving research integrity. For more information, see the contact sections below.

More Information

  • Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity

    To ensure the trustworthiness of research, the integrity of the research process is essential. Although academic disciplines differ in approach and methods, the importance holds true for all research fields: the guiding principles honesty, scrupulousness, transparency, independence and responsibility governing the standards for responsible research are universal across disciplines.

    In the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity (2018) the principles of research integrity are clarified and specified in guidelines for good research practices. The purpose of this document is to provide and educational and normative framework for researchers, trainee researchers and students; a frame of reference for the executive boards of research institutions and for research integrity committees (when assessing alleged research misconduct) and finally it sets out a number of duties of care for institutions.

  • Netherlands Research Integrity Network (NRIN)

    The purpose of the Netherlands Research Integrity Network is to raise awareness, to provide relevant information and to be a platform for discussion of issues of research integrity (RI) and responsible conduct of research (RCR). The network organizes multiple open symposia and closed meetings every year, with the goal to bring together a group of stakeholders interested in RI and RCR. The symposia regularly depart from an educational or research related perspective, focusing on explanatory factors or prevention on the level of the individual researcher, the local research culture and in the system of science as a whole. Closed meeting on the other hand, are solely for confidential counsellors, members of committees treating allegations, and RCR policy advisors. These meetings may also include confidential discussions of anonymized individual cases. In addition to the events and meetings, the network’s website functions as a portal that contains relevant information, tools and contact information, which we update frequently.

  • Graduate course Research Integrity

    All PhD candidates at the Faculty of Humanities are required to complete the course “Research Integrity – Arts and Humanities”. The aim of this course is to equip PhD students to reflect on (1) the purpose, relevance and political situatedness of research, (2) and daily research integrity and ethics dilemmas that arise in their research practice. Successful completion of the course is compulsory to obtain the certificate needed to complete the PhD education program in the humanities. Registration for this course must be done via the website of the Graduate School of Humanities.

  • Contact information and documents Research Integrity

  • Research Ethics Review Committee (ETCO)

    Research in the Humanities frequently involves the (re)use of personal/sensitive data. Personal data means any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural, living person. Researchers at the VU working with personal data need to comply with the European General Data Protection Regulation (GPPR) and the Uitvoeringswet Algemene Verordening Gegevensbescherming (UAVG). This applies to personal data of any kind, such as text, photographs, databases, videos, audio recordings, etc. To this end, researchers working at the Faculty of Humanities who are planning to (re-)use personal data in their research need to submit an application to the Research Ethics Review Committee (ETCO) before commencing their research project.

    The primary objective of the ETCO is to conduct an ethical review to ensure that research at the faculty that process data on human subjects is conducted in a lawful, ethically acceptable, and responsible way. Studies that process data on human subjects need to be submitted to the ETCO at least one month before the study commences. This concerns research conducted within the faculty buildings itself as well as research conducted on behalf of the faculty (for example at a school, company or institution). Research by visiting researchers must first be reviewed by their own institution before it may be submitted to the ETCO of the Faculty of Humanities at the VU.

    The ethics review is applicable to studies that are not medical or clinical in nature. In accordance with the Medical Research involving Human Subjects Act (WMO), research that is medical or clinical in nature needs to be submitted to an a accredited MERC (Medical Research Ethics Committee). In those cases in which it is not clear immediately if a research project is or is not subject to the WMO, the EtCO may request a non-WMO statement[HS(6]  before conducting an ethical review.

    The guidelines and procedures of the ETCO are described in the Research Ethics Review Protocol

  • Committee composition and members

    The ETCO consists of a chairperson, a secretary, and a number of members who have such a range of expertise as to cover the different types of research conducted within the research institutes working in the Faculty of Humanities, i.e. the Network Institute and CLUE+ , as well as an expert in the field of Ethics (from the Department of Philosophy). The Faculty Office of the Faculty of Humanities provides the Committee’s secretary. 

    • Prof. Martine Coene (Chairperson ETCO; Department of Language, Literature and Communication)
    • Prof. Bas ter Haar Romeny (Department of Art and Culture, History, Antiquity)
    • Prof. Martin van Hees (Department of Philosophy)
    • Dr. Sam Heijnen (Secretary ETCO and Privacy Champion)
  • Ethics review procedure

    To submit an application to the ETCO, researchers can use the registration form (link below), which will guide researchers through the application procedure. You can also download the registration form here to prepare the questions before sending in your application. The registration form must be filled in and a data management plan (DMP), information document, and informed consent form belonging to the research must also be submitted. Researchers may use DMPonline to write their DMP. This tool offers templates from several funders and universities. Templates to draw up an information document and consent form can be downloaded below.

    After reviewing the application, the ETCO will decide whether the proposed study is in accordance with the Research Ethics Review Protocol, the GDPR and UAVG, and the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity. It is possible that the ETCO asks the researcher to make adaptions to the study and/or necessary documentation before making a decision. In exceptional cases (for example when the proposed study falls with the category of standard research studies as have been conducted within the Faculty of Humanities for many years), one or more of the ETCO members may fast-track the application while consulting with the other members in writing.

  • Student research procedure

    At this point, the ETCO does not process student applications, unless the proposed project meets one (or more) of the following three criteria:

    • The student’s supervisor plans to publish the results of the proposed project together with the student;
    • The student’s supervisor plans to reuse the data collected by the student for further study.
    • A third party has requested ethical review for the project.

    If one (or more) of these criteria apply, the student’s supervisor may submit an application to the ETCO using the student research registration form below.

    In case none of the three criteria above apply, the supervisor and student are required to arrange the safe handling of the research data themselves. For advice on this matter, please contact the Faculty Privacy Champion (data.fgw@vu.nl).

  • Documents and links ETCO

  • Contact information ETCO

    Secretary of the Research Ethics Review Committee: Dr. Sam Heijnen
    e-mail: etco.fgw@vu.nl