Ethical considerations in science

Ethical considerations in science HU
As a member of the CE7 universities associated with LERU (League of European Research Universities), Eötvös Loránd University held an online seminar on 22 April 2021 with the participation of Europe's leading research universities.

The successful virtual event attracted nearly 150 participants from more than 35 universities, including university governors, experts and PhD students. This seminar provided an insight into the extremely diverse and responsible practice of research ethics and introduced good practices and current experiences in areas such as experiments involving animals or humans, cases related to the coronavirus epidemic, research abuses, and research ethics regulations and options.

The seminar was moderated by Professor Enikő Magyari, Vice-Rector for Research at ELTE, and opened by Prof. Dr. László Borhy, Rector of ELTE, and Prof. Dr. Jean Chambaz, Chair of LERU and President of Sorbonne University. In his welcoming words Rector Borhy explained that ethical considerations are inseparable from, and form an integral part of, scientific activity to ensure humility and service to society and humanity, while not restricting the freedom and independence of scientific research more than necessary. "By creating a clear framework and continuously exploring the possibilities for coordination across institutions and borders, it can be ensured in the long run, that scientific activity retains its credibility and authority, both for itself and for society as a whole" – he concluded.

In his opening remarks President Chambaz emphasized the importance of constantly drawing the attention of decision-makers to the importance and values of scientific research, along with the Code of Ethics, especially in post-COVID times, when the EU funds allocated to research are threatened to decline. He emphasized that science can also be an important tool in the fight against pseudoscience and populist ideas.

In the first presentation Professor Lorraine Leeson and Nina Shiel from Trinity College Dublin presented the TORCH (Transforming Open Responsible Research and Innovation through CHARM) projects and the interconnections between different elements of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). Professor Pawel Luków from the University of Warsaw brought up the question of harmonization of ethics review standards when reviewing research proposals. Dr. Zoltán Rónay and Dr. Gyöngyi Kökönyei from the Faculty of Education of Psychology, ELTE introduced the Faculty’s Research Ethics Committee and its challenges before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the next presentation, Dr Roberto Adorno from the University of Zürich summarized the results of a survey conducted at the University in 2019 with 98 scholars teaching research integrity in 19 European countries.

After the lunch break, from the University of Barcelona, Dr. Itziar de Lecuona presented research integrity in higher education institutions focusing on the case of University of Barcelona. Dr. Andrea Perlusz from the Bárczi Gusztáv Faculty of Special Needs Education, ELTE introduced the Faculty’s Scientific and Research Committee and the deliberations of the ethical aspects of research affecting people with disabilities. Representing the University of Ljubljana, Professor Grega Repovš reviewed the various incentives for ethics review, university members’ perceptions of the needs and requirements for submitting research for ethics review, and experiences in integrating ethics review into the university environment in Slovenia. In the next presentation, Dr. Franck L.B. Mejiboom from Utrecht University introduced the need for broadening the focus on research ethics in animal research alongside the need for complying with ethical and legal guidelines. From Sorbonne University, Dr Serban Morosan also discussed the topic of animal research and introduced the French guide for consideration of ethics in animal experimentation. The last presentation from Professor Ton Hol from Utrecht University reflected on committees and the fair process of responding to research misconduct.

All presentations were followed by a Q&A session filled with interesting questions and conversations on the different topics.