Research Ethics

The Graduate Institute is committed to the highest ethical standards and promotes a research environment based on the principles of good governance, non-discrimination, social responsibility, respect, honesty and integrity. Staff, students and third parties undertaking research at, on behalf of, or in collaboration with the Graduate Institute are expected to share the same commitment and respect the dignity, rights and safety of research subjects, collaborating researchers, and communities they work with. Researchers should at all times comply with best practices to minimise risk and avoid harm, protect vulnerable groups and persons, respect confidentiality and privacy, and observe the legal provisions of Switzerland and the countries in which they are operating.

The Research Ethics Guidelines define the Graduate Institute’s position towards research ethics and contain a series of general recommendations. Together with the Research Ethics Checklist, they are designed to offer guidance to researchers and students of the Institute, to allow them to self-assess whether their research may be ethically sensitive, and to take appropriate measures as needed.

The Ethics Review Committee is responsible for all ethics approval letters necessary for projects and grant applications submitted to external funding bodies (Swiss National Science Foundation [SNSF], Swiss Network for International Studies [SNIS], European Research Council [ERC], etc.). Research projects not falling under this category but potentially presenting significant ethical risks may be referred to the Ethics Review Committee by way of exception. In such cases, a brief written request including a preliminary assessment is required from the thesis supervisor (for PhD projects) or from the Head of the relevant department or research centre/programme.

For a project to be considered for review, the completed Research Ethics Approval Form must be submitted together with the required attachments to the Ethics Review Committee at least four weeks prior to the date on which the approval letter needs to be submitted by the applicant.