Ethical Review of Research
The AISSR has developed a procedure for the ethical review of research plans, seeking to foster reflection and care. We expect requests for ethics permission to articulate and address the real, true and sometimes irreducible problems that researchers face. In order to support that way of working, we do not provide a checklist to check, but questions that challenge the researcher to think about. The aim is for researchers to devote time and effort to thinking through and making explicit how research plans will lead to good research, not only in a methodological but also in a, social, ethical or aesthetic sense.
Note that PhD candidates are all required to complete the ethics review of the AISSR Ethics Advisory Board via the online portal as obligatory part of our training programme (also when ethical approval may not seem necessary). Should you have valid reasons to apply for ethical approval at a scientific institute elsewhere, you can send a motivated request to the secretary of the AISSR Ethics Advisory Board to ask for permission to do so.
How to decide whether asking for ethical permission is required or might be wise:
You must have the board’s permission if:
a. Your research might have a direct impact on the lives of your research informants (e.g. because their life world is interfered with; it may be dangerous for them to work with you; their privacy is at stake).
b. Your research methods may pose a danger or serious practical problems for yourself, your junior colleagues or research assistants.
c. Your research is situated in fields of clashing interests (between e.g. an institution and its clients, governing bodies and groups being governed, industry and activists, and so on) that deserve to be handled with care;
d. Your own interests may clash with those of others concerned.
Some grant givers want to see written ethical permission before they will provide funds, and a significant number of fields journals ask for written proof of ethical permission to conduct a study before they publish its results. Within the university, written permission has a legal status as soon as questions of insurance arise.
If you ask for ethical permission, your answers to the list of questions will be assessed by the AISSR Ethics Advisory Board. If your answers make good enough sense, permission will be granted. If there are difficulties to attend to, however, the Ethical Advisory Board will engage in a dialogue with you.
We cannot read full research proposals and need a succinct summary of your research plan to inform us about your project (item Brief project description). We urge you to provide short and concise answers to our questions. Please take the following steps to submit your research for ethical review.
Submit your research 2-3 months before the actual start of fieldwork/data gathering. The committee does not review proposals of which the fieldwork/ data gathering already started.
- Go to the online ethics portal:
- Log in with your UvA ID and password
- Submit your project (New project)
- Select the department (AISSR)
- Click save
- Answer all the questions.
Please see the pdf attached for the complete list of questions.
The Ethics Committee of the FMG has formally mandated the AISSR Ethics Advisory Board to advise and give guidance in addressing ethical issues specific to research at the AISSR. In the case of a disagreement, it is possible to call upon the ethics committee of the Faculty.
The AISSR Ethical Advisory Board consists of a core group of AISSR researchers with different disciplinary and methodological backgrounds. It currently consists of: Dr Thijs Bol, Dr Michaela Hordijk, Prof. Dr. Jeannette Pols and Dr Rachel Spronk. When necessary, they call on the advice of third parties. The board is coordinated by Marleen Rademaker (secretary of the AISSR Ethics Advisory Board, email@example.com) and she is available for practical questions.
The board meets every second Monday of the month (except for July and August). The next meetings are on 14 November, 12 December 2022 and 16 January, 13 February, 13 March, 17 April, 15 May and 12 June 2023.
The proposals must be submitted at least 1 week before the meeting. The committee only assesses projects at the monthly meetings, so please plan ahead.
AISSR Integrity Protocol
The AISSR Integrity Protocol (see below) articulates AISSR-wide standards on scholarly integrity and data management in the AISSR research community, and an organization for facilitating discussion and protection of such standards. Its purpose is to promote and guard academic integrity for the AISSR, but also to facilitate advances in the quality of our research enterprise in terms of scholarly and societal impact.
The AISSR Integrity Committee handles questions and issues of integrity, and deliberates on how to deal with violations of any aspect of the Protocol that come to the Committee’s attention by a given AISSR Researcher. This Committee meets no less than once per semester, and includes the following members: Marieke de Goede (AISSR Academic Director), Prof. Dr. Jeannette Pols (member of the AISSR Ethics Advisory Board), Olav Velthuis (representative of the Department of Sociology), Gijs Schumacher (representative of the Department of Political Science), Justus Uitermark (representative of the GPIO Department) and Erella Grassiani (representative of the Anthropology Department). Secretary of the committee is Marleen Rademaker (Secretary Academic Integrity).
Serious violations of the Protocol can be discussed and deliberated-upon in confidentiality, but if the Committee or involved researchers at any time wish to dispute the deliberations or recommendations of the Committee, issues or cases can be brought before the formal University-level Integrity Commission.
Please also refer to the new Code of Conduct for Research Integrity by the VSNU (Association of Universities in the Netherlands)
Thesis Plagiarism Check
All theses are checked for plagiarism, which is obligatory, as set down in the UvA 2014 doctorate regulations. The practical implementation of the plagiarism check has been delegated from the Dean of the Faculty to the Management Information Coordinator of the research institute AISSR.
Please be aware that the plagiarism check of the social sciences deviates from the procedure as set down below as decided by the Board of Social Sciences. Article 22.1 of the doctorate regulations states that the manuscript must be submitted for evaluation to the Doctorate Committee no later than 14 weeks before the intended date of the defence ceremony, but not before the conditions of article 17 (Finalising the thesis manuscript, the electronic version and the plagiarism check) have been met (among other conditions). The plagiarism check will therefore be carried out before the thesis approved by the PhD thesis supervisor(s) is submitted to the Doctorate Committee. This means the thesis has to be submitted 16 weeks prior to the defense.
Research Data Management
Research data, collected as part of academic and practice-oriented research, need to be properly managed to ensure research replication, transparency and accountability; and to prevent that they may be misused for malicious purposes. Good research data management (RDM) has many advantages: for your research, for your research institute, for your discipline and for the world around us. It also is part of all researchers’ responsibility to comply with guidelines of academic integrity.
The AISSR has appointed two data stewards to support its researchers with their research data management. The data stewards support researchers with their data management via the following procedures:
- Evaluating data management and privacy aspects of the ethical review procedure (see Ethical Review of Research)
- Providing feedback on the following documents that involve RDM and privacy aspects:
- Data Management Plans (DMPs);
- Reflections on ethical and/or data management-aspects of research proposals (mainly EU and NWO project proposals);
- Responses to ethical and data management questions or requests from funders regarding awarded research projects (mainly EU projects);
- The privacy sections of the informed consent protocol;
- Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) questionnaires;
- Drafts of data sharing or processing agreements with third parties.
In the near future, like other research institutes at the University of Amsterdam, the AISSR will implement the online research management tool “Research Management Services” (RMS) to embed several research management procedures including ethics and RDM. Until then, the above mentioned procedures apply.
Get in touch with the AISSR data stewards by e-mailing to datasteward-AISSR-FMG@uva.nl.
- Doctorate Regulations