Advisers and committees

Advisers on the responsible conduct of research and freedom of research

The advisers are appointed from among the faculties’ senior researchers by the academic councils. The task of the advisers is to provide other researchers, managers at the university or members of technical/administrative staff with confidential and objective advice and guidance on research integrity, freedom of research and the responsible conduct of research.

The advisers can either provide guidance themselves or refer employees to relevant units at the university that can provide information. Depending on what issues are at stake in the specific case – pressure on freedom of research or research conduct – advisers may recommend that efforts to resolve them be made in dialogue with the persons or institutions involved. In such situations, advisers can offer to assist when the case is discussed, and will contribute their independent assessment of the situation.

As a general rule, sessions with the advisers are confidential. This means that the adviser may not disclose information to management or others without the permission of the person who approached the adviser. However, if an adviser receives information on a particularly serious breach of the responsible conduct of research, the adviser is obliged to report the case to the Committee for Responsible Conduct of Research and Freedom of Research – called the Research Practice Committee.

The Research Practice Committee

Anyone who suspects a breach of the responsible conduct of research or attempts to compromise freedom of research at Aarhus University can make a report to the committee. However, before the report is made, the reporter must have tried to handle the case through a dialogue with the party/parties involved; possibly with the involvement of parties such as the immediate supervisor or the faculty’s advisers on the responsible conduct of research and threats to freedom of research.

If a report to the committee is made, it is the reporter’s responsibility to provide reasons for and documentation of the suspected breach/the attempt to compromise the freedom of research to the committee.

The Research Practice Committee can take on cases of questionable research practices or attempts to compromise freedom of research. If the committee finds that a case involves questions of research misconduct, the case will be submitted to the Danish Committee on Research Misconduct for processing at national level.

The Research Practice Committee concludes its cases by submitting a statement to the rector. The statement consists of an account of the circumstances of the case and, if relevant, a recommendation for sanctions or other ways of responding to the case.

The Research Ethics Committee

The Research Ethics Committee is a service provided to AU researchers whose projects are required, by funders or journals, to document ethical approval, but which are not regulated by the regional research ethics committees.

The committee must ensure that research at AU is conducted in accordance with the university’s guidelines for the responsible conduct of research, the Helsinki Declaration and other research ethics guidelines that are relevant to the specific project.

The Research Ethics Committee exclusively approves projects requiring ethical approval which fall outside of the existing research ethics committee system, and which are headed by researchers employed at AU.  

The Committee only approves empirical projects that collect data from volunteer study participants, including observation studies and questionnaire-based studies that involve the collection of data from individuals.