Research Ethics National infrastructure

The ethical review of research projects that involve human participants has become a mandatory standard that is reflected in national laws as well as in supranational and international documents. Not only those people who are willing to participate as subjects in research projects, but also both researchers undertaking projects and the general public have come to expect that an independent review process is in place which ensures the highest degree of protection possible and, more generally, that research is carried out in an ethically acceptable manner. This has been a relatively short journey. In the early second half of the 20th century review bodies started to emerge, mainly as a form of self-regulation of the medical profession and often in an ad-hoc form responding to concrete problems. However, in the past decades Research Ethics Committees (RECs) have, in most European countries and worldwide, been established as permanent and independent bodies. As such they build, at least in Europe and other western countries, the core of a robust infrastructure which monitors and reviews research projects.

Undoubtedly, the current practice of RECs in Europe is, by and large, a success story. The day-to-day work of RECs ensures not only a comprehensive protection of research subjects, but also the wide public acceptance of and public trust and confidence in biomedical research in the European Research Area. Despite this RECs are facing significant challenges. Whereas the development of RECs and particularly their ethos have been developed with an appropriate local cultural sympathy and resonance, research projects in the field of biomedicine, especially clinical trials, are often carried out as multicentre studies, i.e. at different institutions in different countries both within Europe and also internationally. These multi-centre projects expose significant cultural differences. Further, these differences can be seen in differences in laws or in the discretion to implement laws relevant to the particular research. The established and reliable practice of local (or regional or, in some countries, national) review seems not to be fully equipped to meet all of these challenges. Moreover, new technologies and research methodologies raise ethical questions for which existing procedures and guidelines are inadequate or not existing.

It is against this background that efforts have been made to foster awareness and linkage among RECs on local, regional, national, European and international level. This is especially important since the legal basis as well as the set-up, structure and practice of RECs varies considerably across Europe.

EUREC provides information on the European networking of RECs:

The National Networks of Research Ethics Committees are listed here:





Czech Republic:













The Netherlands:








United Kingdom:


Research Integrity National infrastructure:

Austria: Austrian Agency for Research Integrity

Belgium: Flemish Commission for Research Integrity (VCWI)

Croatia: Croatian Committee on Ethics in Science and Higher Education (CESHE)

Czech Republic: Commission for the Scientific Integrity of the Czech Academy of Sciences (CAS)

Denmark: Danish Committee on Research Misconduct (DCRM)

Estonia: Estonian Research Council (ETAg)

Finland: Finnish National Board on Research Integrity (TENK)

France: French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), Internal Office of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM)

Germany: German Research Ombudsman (Ombudsman für die Wissenschaft), Geschäftsstelle für Ombudsangelegenheiten der Universität Hamburg, Team Scientific Integrity (Team SciInt)

Greece: Ethical Aspects in Research and Technology for Human (EARTHnet)

Ireland: Health Research Board (HRB), Royal Irish Academy (RIA)

Italy: National Research Council (CNR)

Luxemburg: Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR)

Netherlands: Netherlands Board on Research Integrity (LOWI), Netherlands Research Integrity Network (NRIN)

Norway: National Research Ethics Committees (Etikkom)

Poland: Commission for Ethics in Science, The National Science Centre (NCN)

Portugal: Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT)

Slovak Republic: Ethics Committee of the Slovak Academy of Sciences

Slovenia: Commission for Women in Science (CWS)

Spain: Ethics Committee of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

Sweden: Central Ethical Review Board (CEPN)

Switzerland: Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences (SAMW)

United Kingdom: UK Research Integrity Office (UKRIO)