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Legal and Ethical Aspects of Research


In the wake of recent scandals in some European and American Universities, academic misconduct is now high on the agenda.
The course will create awareness towards academic integrity by presenting the legal and ethical issues in research and publication.

The class will focus on different aspects of academic integrity such as truthfulness, plagiarism, non- discrimination and specific legal issues like freedom of research, conflict of interest, responsibility of co-authorship, copyright and data protection.

Teaching method
Law and ethics are intertwined. Thus, the best approach is co-teaching: a professor of ethics and a professor law will address the different issues together.
The course will combine lecturing, group work and case studies.

After a short introduction devoted to freedom of research in open democratic societies, the first workshop deals with a case of plagiarism and ethical misconduct. Starting from a real case, we will examine the consequences not only for the person who committed plagiarism, but also for the university in general and the consequences of plagiarism on the other researchers in that particular department. The discussed case prepares for the next topic dealing with the legal framework of copyright. We will then discuss whistleblowing in academia providing different settings and strategies how do deal with misconduct in an organization once discovered without adverse effects for the whistleblower and the organization in general.
The following topic will discuss access to information and open data in a Swiss and European law perspective.
Furthermore, we discuss how to protect privacy in conducting research (data protection, anonymisation etc.). This unit includes a group work on a case that lead to a controversial decision of the European Human Rights Court.

Carlos Cabral-Cardoso: Ethical Misconduct in the Business School: A Case of Plagiarism That Turned Bitter. In: Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 49, No. 1 (Jan., 2004), pp. 75-89
Claude Almansi, Marcello Baggi, Raphaël Contel, Bertil Cottier, Jacques de Werra, Copyright in Education Handbook,
Whiteman, N. (2012): Undoing Ethics. Rethinking Practice in Online Research. Berlin. Springer
Sana Loue (1999): Textbook of Research Ethics. Theory and Practice. NY: Kluwer.



Cottier B.

Course director

Seele P.

Course director

Additional information

Academic year