Ethical review in human sciences

The ethical principles for research with human participants have been drawn up by the Finnish National Board on Research Integrity TENK, and they serve as a starting point for ethical review work carried out by ethics committees in the human sciences.

The guidelines for ethical review in research with human participants are intended for research designs where ethical review is not regulated separately in the Medical Research Act (488/1999).  Besides humanities and social sciences, these research designs include research with human participants in the natural sciences and technology, in artistic research, and in some cases also in non-invasive health or medical research.

Researchers operating in Finland must comply with the ethical principles of research with human participants. Where necessary, they must also request a statement from a human sciences ethics committee before commencing research. Failure to comply with these guidelines may meet the criteria for a violation of responsible conduct of research (RCR). Where necessary, the matter may be resolved through the process for handling allegations of research misconduct.

These updated guidelines have been in force since 1 October 2019. Research organisations may commit to complying with the guidelines by signing a form to this effect.

The form is available on the TENK website in Finnish and Swedish. The website also includes a list of organisations (in Finnish) that have undertaken to comply with the guidelines.

The guidelines are divided into two parts. The first part describes the ethical principles of research with human participants. These have been drawn up to cover a wide range of research on human subjects and human behaviour. The second part describes the process of ethical review and the principles underlying ethical review conducted by ethics committees in the human sciences.