Research ethics

Research ethics relates to ethical aspects of the research process, and are regulated by a number of values, norms, laws, regulations and institutional arrangements.

Publishing and co-authorship

A general rule for co-authorship is that significant contributions have been made in the research and writing process. Different disciplines have their own rules and norms for co-authorship.

The Vancouver recommendations

Basically, four criteria define legitimate authorship. All must be met, as stated in the recommendations of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE):

  1. The researcher must contribute significantly to the idea and design or data collection or analysis and interpretation of data; AND
  2. The researcher must contribute to the preparation of manuscripts or critical revision of the intellectual content of the publication; AND
  3. The researcher must have approved the final version before publication; AND
  4. The researcher must be able to account for and be held responsible for the work in its entirety (albeit not necessarily all technical details) unless otherwise specified.

Not all contributions that are essentially not eligible for co-authorship:
Guidance, language editing, revising the structure of the manuscript, help with figures/tables, help using software. Additionally, all forms of honorary authorship are unacceptable.

The National Research Ethics Committees (FEK) support the use of Vancouver recommendations.

Misconduct in publishing

Emphasis on high publication numbers in research can lead to a culture where quantity becomes more important than quality, which in turn may become a question about research ethics. This is a grey area where it is difficult to provide concrete ethical guidelines because there are many factors that come into play, and what applies to one case does not necessarily apply to another. Nevertheless, researchers should be aware this type of culture and the misconduct it can lead to when publishing.

Misconduct may include:

  • Dividing work into several publications, when this is not done for academic reasons, but instead to raise the publication numbers
  • Self-plagiarism, where the researcher re-uses text from his/her own work
  • Being listed as a co-author on work where one does not meet the recommendations for co-authorship

Research ethics committee

HVL has a research ethics committee that contributes to a research culture that accommodate research ethics and provides a system for preventing violations of research ethics. The Committee also deals with cases of suspected scientific misconduct and other research ethics issues.
Contact the research ethics committee.

Suspected scientific misconduct

Suspected violations of research ethics rules or scientific misconduct by an employee, a student or co-researcher at HVL, shall normally be reported to the dean of the responsible faculty. Nevertheless, there may be cases where it is natural to report directly to the Research Ethics Committee. For example, if several faculties are involved, or if the management at the faculty is involved or for some other reason considered to have a conflict of interest.
The suspicion must be submitted in written form and shall present the reasons or substantiate that the alleged misconduct or action contrary to good scientific practice has occurred.

Notification form for suspected scientific misconduct.

To write or supervise a student assignment

Students have an independent responsibility to ensure that the work on student assignments follows research ethical norms, rules and guidelines that apply to the project and the subject area.

The role of supervisor and co-authorship

The (co-)supervisor shall not automatically be considered as co-author. The Vancouver recommendations also apply to co-authorship for the (co-)supervisor.


Master's or PhD student is listed as the only author. If parts of the monograph are to be published later, the (co-)supervisor can co-author (if the contribution meets the Vancouver recommendations).

Article-based thesis

The (co-)supervisor can co-author the individual articles. The PhD student   should be the only author of the "final contribution" (kappen).

Head of Section
Division of Research, Internationalisation and Innovation
Fagansvarlig eksternfinansiert forsking
Division of Research, Internationalisation and Innovation
Division of Research, Internationalisation and Innovation
Division of Research, Internationalisation and Innovation
Data Protection Officer
Western Norway University of Applied Sciences