Research Ethics Assessment

This web-site has been created to offer guidance on Research Ethics in view of a possible ethics review of research projects by the competent authorities. On this site you can find information on when and how to apply for ethical approval and authorizations, application processes, policies, legislation, guidelines, etc.

What is examined during an Ethics Review?

  • Does the researcher show an understanding of the ethics issues raised by the project.
  • Are the relevant national and international legislation taken into account in the design of the proposed research frame.
  • Did the applicants sought/ are planning to seek the approval of relevant local/national (ethics) committees and, when appropriate, the relevant competent authorities.
  • Does the applicant treats the ethics issues part with due attention and not as an afterthought.

Common Challenges

  • Participation of Third (non EU) and/or Developing Countries.
  • No information on handling incidental findings (findings that resulted from the research protocol but were not expected).
  • Insurance for participants and/or for researchers.
  • Issues related to children (0-17 year): failure to describe if a child obtains a real and direct benefit. If a child is not directly benefited, a minimum risk and minimum burden must be illustrated.
  • Clinical research: failure to justify human intervention from an ethical perspective, safeguard data protection, design of informed consent forms.
  • Research on animals: failure to describe (i) numbers used; (ii) humane end points; (iii) if non-animal alternatives were sought.
  • Data protection and privacy: codification, storage and anonymization of personal data.

(Adapted from: “Ethics Review and the FP7 Framework” by Isidoros Karatzas, Head of the Ethics Sector, European Commission)

Ethics and …

Horizon 2020 (H2020)

The ReO will assist EPFL researchers in completing the ethics component of their H2020 grant applications, the Ethical Issues Table and the Ethics Self-Assessment in particular. General info on this issue can be found on and practical guidelines are given here.

U.S Funding Agencies

EPFL aims at promoting U.S. Grants submissions. It is however important to take contact with the Research Office as soon as you have a project idea. Indeed, the projects must follow ethical rules fixed by EPFL (FCOI policy) and export law policies fixed by SECO. More info: