SNSF response to accusations by right-to-die associations concerning NRP 67

10/Feb/2014

In the context of the National Research Programme "End of Life" (NRP 67), right-to-die associations have accused the SNSF of a lack of transparency. The accusations are not justified. The actions of the SNSF are transparent and in line with the applicable laws.

The SNSF denies the accusations made by right-to-die associations with regard to NRP 67. In response to earlier accusations, the Federal Council approved the SNSF's decisions and actions with regard to the leadership and subject matter of NRP 67 (see the Federal Council's response to the corresponding parliamentary procedural request).The right-to-die associations accuse the SNSF of a lack of transparency and demand access to documents related to NRP 67 based on the Transparency Act. The corresponding proceedings are still pending. The SNSF has granted access to documents as far as this is permissible by law. However, legal provisions forbid the SNSF to meet this demand for access in full. The recommendations published by the Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (FDPIC), defend the stance taken by the SNSF, according to which no reviews or names of reviewers may be disclosed. Against this backdrop, the accusation of a lack of transparency is not tenable.Anonymity guaranatees qualityThe SNSF does everything in its power to find suitable international experts to review research proposals. If their names were disclosed, these experts would be less open and critical in their assessments and less likely to make themselves available. Anonymous peer reviewing is the standard method of assessing research worldwide. Any deviation from this system would strongly compromise the quality of the SNSF's scientific evaluation. For this reason, the legislators have explicitly protected the anonymity of reviewers working for the SNSF in the Research and Innovation Promotion Act.The SNSF comprehensively informs the public about its funding activities; information on NRP 67 is provided on the programme website, in particular. The SNSF meets transparency requirements within the scope of its mandate and the legal framework. By granting access to legally protected documents, it would be acting unlawfully. Website NRP 67 Allegation of bias among members of Steering Committee – parliamentary question with response by the Federal Council Insight into documents: recommendations of the Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (FDPIC) on 12.12.2013 Evaluation procedure for National Research Programmes  
ContactCommunication divisionE-mail com@snf.ch