Skip to Main Content

Responsible Thesis-Writing Process

The University of Vaasa's guidelines for research ethics and research data management.

Scientific ethics and research ethics

Scientific ethics is defined as commitment to the ideals of science: integrity, openness and critical inquiry. Every member of the scientific community, from the student beginning their Bachelor’s thesis to the world famous academic, follows the same rules and guidelines of ethical scientific practice.

The ethics of science is not new, and it is not based on vague, obscure principles. The demands of scientific ethics are these common values: truth, credibility and integrity. As in human society, so in the ethics of science, it is forbidden to steal, lie or cheat.

Ethical ideals have very little meaning unless they are cherished and promoted. Their implementation must be safeguarded, and any infraction must be investigated. In Finland, the Finnish National Board on Research Integrity (TENK) has drawn up a guide for research ethics called Responsible conduct of research and procedures for handling allegations of misconduct in Finland (2012). This guide was created in collaboration with the scientific community, including feedback and comments from several universities.

Research ethics is not primarily about avoiding ethical infractions. Rather, research ethics promotes commitment to procedures and practices that enable a high level of reliability and quality in research.

The Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity has divided morally significant violations of the responsible conduct of research into two groups: disregard for the responsible conduct of research and research misconduct. Both violations decrease the reliability of results and may invalidate the research itself. However, violations may vary as regards their degree of severity. The researcher who disregards or is negligent of the principles of responsible research conduct may not have understood that their shortcomings are not only damaging to the quality of their work but are also morally questionable practices. In contrast, research misconduct is an intentional choice, and not accidental or due to negligence.

Research misconduct

Violations of research ethics in all disciplines

  • Plagiarism, misappropriation of research ideas, - materials, or results
  • Falsification i.e. modifying or distorting research results
  • Concealing significant results, especially risks
  • Appropriation of the research to one or only some researchers when others have made significant contributions
  • Unequal treatment of members of a research group, e.g., in dividing tasks or hiring
  • Sexual harassment and racism
  • Morally questionable research subjects, such as eugenics.

Literature review

  • Plagiarism or improper citation of sources
  • Disregard of proper citation practices
  • Quotations taken out of context, misrepresentation of the source text
  • Falsified sources

Research interviews

  • Asking leading questions, manipulation or other forms of mistreatment of the interview subjects
  • Misleading the interview subjects about the purpose of the interview
  • Distorting the interview responses
  • Violating the anonymity or confidentiality of the interview subjects
  • Using or publishing the interviews, recordings or images without the express permission of the parties involved

Medical and biological research

  • Mistreatment of lab animals
  • Painful experiments
  • Unnecessary experiments

Technological and scientific research

  • Negligent or unprotected tests; experiments carried out without simulations or training, which pose a threat to those conducting the experiment or to outsiders. (Unacceptable risk: dangerous to all)
  • Experiments which pose a risk to the researcher’s health and safety (e.g., exposure to toxins or radiation, test flights) (High risk: dangerous for researchers or experiment participants).
  • Unnecessary creation of dangerous products, substance compounds or devices
  • Releasing inadequately tested products, such as pharmaceutical drugs, to the market
  • Potentially dangerous or risky applications of research results (e.g., nuclear power, weapons technology)

Useful links

Saavutettavuusseloste Tillgänglighetsutlåtande