Ethical questions

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Ethics is gaining importance in many researcher's professional lives. This is a welcome development since excellence in research depends crucially on good relations both to the scientific community and to society. On the other hand, the increasing diversification of academic ethics can at times be confusing. This page offers an overview of prominent topics and responsible units at ETH Zurich.

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Research on humans

ETH Zurich ensures the protection of humans that are the subjects of research by abiding by federal and cantonal law as well as by its own regulations.

Individual research projects on humans are evaluated by ETH Zurich's Ethics Commission or by the Cantonal Ethics Committee depending on which is responsible.

Find out more on the page human subject research.

Research with animals

Animal experimentation is strictly regulated by the Federal Act on Animal Welfare and the ETH Zurich Policy on Experimental Animal Research. Researchers are required to treat animals with knowledge and responsibility and to set examples in the implementation of the 3R Principles.

Animal experiments must be approved by the Cantonal Veterinary Office. ETH Zurich's Office of Research provides advice.

Find out more on the pages on animal experimentation

Scientific integrity

It is integrity which makes the mutual trust possible that is the fundament of science. Good scientific practice includes transparency in planning, conducting, and publishing research but also concerns other areas such as the supervision of junior scientists, dealing with data responsibly, or the protection of ETH's interests. 

The trusted intermediaries are the first contact point for all members of ETH Zurich seeking advice on research integrity, whereas the Commission for Good Scientific Practice is responsible for the strategic development of the topic.

More detailed information can be found on the page dedicated to scientific integrity.

Data protection

Sensitive data as well as large amounts of data place high demands on researchers working with them. Scientific integrity requires sharing the data with the scientific community while at the same time protecting personal data.

ETH's Legal Office is the main contact point for issues of data protection. The Digital Curation service provided by the ETH Library offers advice on practical issues such as data management.

Working together

Unfair behavior and conflicts are not confined to research. Some general guidelines for a good work climate are provided by ETH Zurich's Compliance Guide and the Respect Code of Conduct. Specific cases are not within the competence of the Office of Research - please refer to the following contact points:

  • The ombuds persons offer counseling and mediation for conflicts that cannot be solved in direct communication.
  • Equal! is responsible for equal opportunities at ETH Zurich and also helps in cases of sexual harassment.
  • For bullying, harrassment and discrimination, contact the (internal) unit Respect or the (external) Advice Centre.
  • Counseling tailored to scientific staff is available from the Academic Association of Scientific Staff at ETH Zurich (AVETH).
  • The Staff Commission represents the interests of ETH ZUrich's administrative and technical staff.

Relevant research

Many of ETH Zurich's departments host research on humans or animals, for instance, Biology, Biosystems Science and Engineering, Chemistry and Applied Biosciences, Health Sciences and Technology, Humanities, Social and Political Sciences or Management, Technology and Economics.

The Chair of Bioethics researches ethical and policy challenges in precision medicine and digital health. The Professorship for Intellectual Property focuses on legal developments that often have a direct impact on research integrity.

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