Ethics & deontology

Responsible research conduct consists in observing the rules of good practice while respecting scientific integrity.

At UNIL, the Rectorate's guidelines relating in particular to integrity in research (directive 4.2) apply to all research activities carried out within the framework of the University and to all researchers working there who are administratively dependent on the University's Human Resources.

They have five objectives :

  • Ensure integrity in scientific research. This willingness is one of the prerequisites for the credibility of science and a justification for the need for researchers' freedom.
  • Promote quality research: the quality of research must take precedence over quantitative aspects. In principle, more weight should be given to the originality of the problem, the scope of the conclusions, the reliability of the basic data and the certainty of the results than to the speed of dissemination of the result and the number of publications.
  • Ensure uniform framework conditions for scientific research at the University.
  • Make researchers aware of the risks of conflicts of interest.
  • Provide information on the procedure for reporting suspected breaches of scientific integrity.

Open Science Contributes to Research Integrity

In its report Best Practices for Ensuring Scientific Integrity and Preventing Misconduct published in 2008, the OECD highlights six aspects of misconduct in scientific research :

  1. Core misconduct in research: plagiarism of ideas, processes, results or words of others without giving credit, fabrication and falsification. This includes selective exclusion of data from analysis, misinterpretation of data to achieve desired results (including inappropriate use of statistical methods), falsification of images in publications, or production of false data or results under pressure from a sponsor.
  2. Data misconduct: failure to preserve primary data, mismanagement or storage of data, or concealment of data from the scientific community.
  3. Research practice misconduct: use of inappropriate (harmful or dangerous) research methods, poor research design. Experimental, analytical or computational errors. Violation of protocols relating to human subjects; or mistreatment of laboratory animals.
  4. Misconduct related to publication: claiming undeserved paternity. Denying paternity to contributors; artificially cutting up a publication (salami-slicing). Failure to correct the registration of the publication.
  5. Inappropriate personal behaviour, harassment. Inappropriate leadership, mentoring, counselling of students. Insensitivity to social or cultural norms.
  6. Financial misconduct: abuse of peer review, e.g., non-disclosure of conflict of interest, unfairly delaying publication of a rival. Misrepresentation of credentials or publications. Misuse of research funds for unauthorized purchases or personal gain. Allegations against others of unsubstantiated or malicious misconduct.

According to the report Research Integrity through Open Science and FAIR Data released in March 2019, the first four categories of misconduct can be addressed through changes in research practices and the implementation of the FAIR principles and Open Science principles (openness, transparency, accessibility, accountability, verification, replicability, etc.).

This link between open science and integrity is a new opportunity to encourage researchers to strengthen their practices in relation to Open Science.

Ethics' commissions at UNIL

Since autumn 2019, Faculty Research Ethics Committees have been gradually being set up to assess the ethical aspects of the research projects submitted to them. These commissions issue certificates of ethical compliance. They only deal with projects that do not fall under the LRH. UNIL researchers may, if they so wish or if the funding or publication authorities so require, submit their project to research ethics committees via an electronic platform.

A central ethics committee

CER-UNIL, Unil's University Commission on Research Ethics, oversees the system at the central level. It deals with projects requiring institutional validation. It is requested when the research object includes human beings and the latter does not fall within the competence of the Cantonal Commission on Research Ethics (CER-VD).

This commission provides training and support for researchers and students and works in collaboration with the new Interdisciplinary Centre for Research in Ethics (CIRE) launched by the Directorate and located in the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies.

Download the CER-UNIL regulations

Download the CER-UNIL presentation available in the Uniscope of November 2019 (no. 648)

For more information, please contact Pablo Diaz.

Faculty ethics committees

Besides the central commission (CER-UNIL), the University of Lausanne has seven faculty commissions. Each committee decides on its mode of operation, its composition and is subject to specific regulations.

For information on their regulations and compositions, please consult the dedicated pages on the CER-UNIL website.

Guide for the Social Sciences

To help you understand the ethical issues related to Open research Data, FORS, the Swiss Competence Centre for Social Sciences, has developed a guide entitled : Ethics in the era of open research data : some points of reference - january 2019.

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The UNIL Research Ethics Commission (CER-UNIL) acts as a complement to the Cantonal Research Ethics Commission (CER-VD) in the evaluation of research projects involving human participants outside the CER-VD's fields of competence.

More information on the CER-UNIL.


The Cantonal Commission on Ethics in Human Research (CER-VD) is a cantonal administrative authority established by the Human Research Act (LHR). It ensures the protection of research subjects and assesses the compliance of human research projects with ethical, legal and scientific requirements, as well as good research practices.

More information on the CER-VD website.


Swissethics is a working community of the Swiss ethics commissions for human research, which have been brought together in an association of public utility.

More information on the Swissethics website.