Utrecht - On 14 November, the deans of the faculties of Social and Behavioural Sciences in the Netherlands signed a cooperation agreement in the field of the ethical review of research. This agreement establishes the
National Ethics Council for Social and Behavioural Sciences, a national coordinating body with the aim of further professionalizing the ethical review in the Social and Behavioural sciences.
Social Sciences in the Netherlands join forces in ethical review
The faculties of Social and Behavioural Sciences are working together more and more in order to achieve a high-quality and harmonized ethical review of research. On Wednesday 14 November, the deans of the thirteen involved faculties in the Netherlands signed an agreement that establishes the existing cooperation in this area in the
National Ethics Council for Social and Behavioural Sciences. The National Ethics Council will be given a leading role in the further development and harmonization of the ethical review. It will also contribute to the advancement of expertise in ethical review. The collaborating parties subscribe, among other things, to a nationally applicable Code of Ethics.
Research into people and their behaviour, as individuals or as part of a community, is becoming more and more progressive and complex. Researchers use advanced techniques and extensive and interconnected data sets (big data). They also increasingly operate in larger collaborations of multidisciplinary teams, spread across multiple locations in the Netherlands and abroad. This raises many questions about how to deal with people and their data ethically in these complex situations. The individual ethics review committees at universities are thus constantly faced with new challenges.
The faculties of Social and Behavioural Sciences have decided to tackle these challenges together. The cooperation agreement formalizes the National Ethics Council for Social and Behavioural Sciences. In this national platform, the ethical review committees of thirteen Dutch faculties meet to discuss ethical dilemmas, to exchange knowledge, and to develop national guidelines. This will strengthen the quality of research, better safeguard careful treatment of research participants and their data, and enable a joint approach to new challenges.
The cooperation is explicitly open: other disciplines that focus their research on people and/or society are welcome to join.
More information about the National Ethics Council for Social and Behavioural Sciences, about the national Code of Ethics and about the participating faculties is available at
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