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Ethics, Integrity and Plagiarism

Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research / AISSR

Below, you may find our procedures for Ethics, Integrity and Plagiarism. The AISSR has developed these to foster reflection and care on these topics. The AISSR Ethics Advisory Board has developed a specific procedure for the ethical review of research plans in line with the research methods typical for social sciences. The procedure stimulates researchers to design their research in an ethical way. In 2017, the AISSR developed a Research Integrity and Data Management Protocol, based on the VNSU's 2018 Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity.

  • 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 and ethical sense.

    Please note that all PhD candidates are required to complete the ethics review of the AISSR Ethics Advisory Board 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

    e. Your project could imply risks for security of human dignity, life, health freedom, property, environment or peaceful coexistence. These risks arise mainly in research that produces knowledge, products, technologies that can be misused by third parties. See also this page (Dutch only).

    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.

    Procedure

    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 description of the research). We urge you to provide short and concise answers to our questions. Please take the following into account when you submit your research proposal for ethical review

    • Submit your research project 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.
    • Submit your ethics form, you data management plan and your informed consent form simultaneously, as all three will be reviewed during the evaluation meeting of the AISSR Ethics Advisory Board and the AISSR Data Stewards.

    Take the following steps to apply for ethical review:

    1. Go to the online Research Management Services (RMS) portal
    2. Log in with your UvA ID and password
    3. Start registering your project by clicking on ‘research project’
    4. Select the research institute (AISSR)
    5. Fill out the rest of the project form and click ‘create’
    6. Answer the questions in the required forms
    7. If, based on your answers to the Ethics Review and the Data Management Plan, other forms pop-up, complete these as well as soon as possible. Other modules are for example: Informed Consent and Privacy Agreement.

    Please see below PDF file for the complete list of questions. 

    Board members

    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, Dr. Rachel Spronk and Dr. Daphne van der Pas. When necessary, they call on the advice of third parties. The board is coordinated by Marleen Rademaker (secretary of the AISSR Ethics Advisory Board, m.e.b.rademaker@uva.nl) and she is available for practical questions.

    Board meetings

    The board meets every month, except for July and August. The next meetings are on 25 May, 22 June, 14 September, 12 October, 9 November and 14 December 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 (currently under revision) articulates AISSR-wide standards on scholarly integrity and data management in the AISSR research community, and means to facilitate 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.

    Please also refer to the Code of Conduct for Research Integrity by the VSNU (Association of Universities in the Netherlands)

    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 includes the following members: Justus Uitermark (AISSR Academic Director), , Gijs Schumacher (representative of the Department of Political Science) and Erella Grassiani (representative of the Anthropology Department). Secretary of the committee is Marleen Rademaker (Secretary Academic Integrity), who is also available for questions

    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.

  • 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 research, needs to be properly managed. Depending on the nature of the research project, data and/or metadata need to be properly stored to ensure privacy of research subjects. Sometimes proper management of research data enables reuse of data by means of replication, reinterpretation, or further research. At other times, the sensitivity of data prohibits sharing and demands extensive (technical) security measures to protect the rights of research subjects. Regardless of the nature of the data and the research method, research data management is important for transparency and accountability; two pillars of academic integrity. 

    The AISSR has appointed two data stewards to support its researchers with their research data management. The data stewards review the data management aspects of research projects prior to the start of the projects, following this procedure:

    Submit your research 2-3 months before the actual start of fieldwork/data gathering.

    1. Go to the online Research Management Services (RMS):
    2. Log in with your UvA ID and password
    3. Start registering your research by clicking on ‘research project’
    4. Select the research institute (AISSR)
    5. Fill out the rest of the Project Form and click ‘Create’
    6. Answer the questions of the Ethics Review (only if required) and the Data Management Plan (always required)
    7. If, based on your answers to the Ethics Review and the Data Management Plan, other forms pop-up, complete these as well as soon as possible. Other modules are for example: Informed Consent and Privacy Agreement.

    Furthermore, the data stewards  provide feedback on the following documents that involve research data management 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.

     

    Get in touch with the AISSR data stewards by e-mailing to datasteward-AISSR-FMG@uva.nl.

  • Doctorate Regulations