Research ethics committee
The overall aim of research is to generate new knowledge so that we can understand the world we live in and change it for the better. Confidence in researchers and their handling of the ethical issues that arise in all research is therefore a key condition for conducting research and applying research results. Ethical issues can arise at any stage of the research process, from the selection of research questions to the presentation of results.
Individual researchers are responsible for their research. However, when people’s integrity or other sensitive data are involved, this personal accountability needs to be complemented with ethical vetting by an independent authority. A well-functioning ethical vetting system is also required to retain public confidence in research.
Karlstad University offers support in research ethics matters. Each of the faculties (HS and HNT) has an ethical advisor tasked with providing advice to researchers/research groups who have to manage the ethical requirements set by funders. The ethical advisors are also members of the faculty-specific ethical review panels established as the initial vetting authorities in the university’s ethical review process (RB 43/18).
Karlstad University also has a Research Ethics Committee mandated with vetting research projects upon application. All research projects conducted at Karlstad University that may fall under the provisions of the Ethical Review Act must be reported to the Research Ethics Committee before the start of the project. The Research Ethics Committee determines whether a project is subject to the Ethical Review Act, and if it is, an application for ethical vetting must be submitted to the Swedish Ethical Review Authority. If the Research Ethics Committee determines that a project is not subject to the Ethical Review Act, it may instead provide an advisory opinion on the project.
Which matters are handled by the research ethics committee?
The Research Ethics Committee at Karlstad University is tasked with the following:
1. Assessing whether research projects for which Karlstad University is the principal research authority fall under the provisions of the Ethical Review Act (application must be submitted for assessment before the start of the project). The Research Ethics Committee determines whether a project is subject to the Ethical Review Act, in which case an application for ethical vetting must be submitted to the Swedish Ethical Review Authority. If the Research Ethics Committee determines that a project is not subject to the Ethical Review Act, it may instead provide an advisory opinion on the project.
2. Ethical vetting of research projects and master-level degree projects done at Karlstad University that are not subject to ethical vetting under the Ethical Review Act, but which the responsible researcher or supervisor wants to submit to ethical vetting (applications may be submitted to the Research Ethics Committee). The Research Ethics Committee must provide a statement or advisory opinion. If needed, the Research Ethics Committee treats matters in consultation with the involved researchers or supervisors, and the committee may recommend changes to the project design or ask for additional information before reaching a decision.
Submitting an application
From 1 January 2019, applications for ethical vetting are submitted via Prisma. An individual account is needed. It is the principal investigator who initiates the application in Prisma and then invite participants to work with the application. For PhDs, the supervisor is the main applicant.
Create an application in Prisma and complete all project details. Submit all attachments as per the instructions in Prisma. If you, in your capacity as a researcher, assess that the project does not fall under the Ethical Review Act, you may attach a document addressed to the Research Ethics Committee in which you explain this view (attach the letter as an appendix under point 15, or email to the registrar). The document that you need to submit to the Research Ethics Committee is a downloaded pdf file of your Prisma application, including all attachments (use the “Förhandsgranska med bilagor”[MG1] option). Do not press "Register" in the system, leave the application to be a draft ("Utkast). When the decision comes from the Research Ethics Committee, the application can be updated upon recommendation and sent to the Ethics Review Authority, if decided.
Submit the pdf file to the registry (firstname.lastname@example.org). You will receive a confirmation of receipt with a registration number and details on when the application will be assessed from the secretary of the research ethics committee.
Applications should be discussed by the subject/research group before submission, in order to obtain the input of experienced researchers as early on in the process as possible. The committee can only assess complete applications.
Do not include such detailed information in the application that you reveal the identity of prospective participants.
Include all the required documents and attachments.
You are welcome to submit a short cover letter describing any specific aspects on which you would like an advisory opinion, or any aspects of the proposed project that you find problematic.
What happens after you have submitted your application?
All committee members review all applications before the meeting, but a specific member will be tasked with reporting on your application. The Research Ethics Committee reviews the application and provides any advisory comments to the applicant. Opinions and decisions are made available to the applicant as soon as possible after the meeting.
If the application is deemed to fall under the Ethical Review Act, the committee will decide that it needs to be submitted to the Swedish Ethical Review Authority. If needed, the committee will give advice on aspects that may be improved.
If the application only has one principal research authority, ethical vetting by the Swedish Ethical Review Authority costs SEK 5 000. An OCR number is supplied when the electronic application is submitted. (Payment cannot be made in advance.) The payment is made via the appropriate faculty/subject.