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Legal and Ethical Aspects of Research


Cottier B.

Course director

Seele P.

Course director


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. Next is access to information and open data in a Swiss and European legal perspective. Furthermore, we discuss how to protect privacy in conducting research (data protection, pseudonymisation etc.). The major work of the course consists in developing and drafting our own Code of Ethics, according to state-of-the-art benchmarks. Finally we discuss the latest trends for ethical approval for research and journal publication requirements (for further details see schedule). 


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 plagiarism, co-authorship, conflict of interest and specific legal issues like freedom of research, access to information, copyright and data protection. 

Teaching mode

In presence

Learning methods

Law and ethics are intertwined. Thus, the preferred approach is co-teaching: a professor of ethics and a professor law address different issues in a dialectical dialogue-based presentation mode. The course combines lecturing, group work and case studies. 

Examination information

Participation and common group work of an  academic ‘code of ethics’