High-quality research must uphold high ethical standards. For the SNSF, scientific integrity is a key basic requirement. It thoroughly and carefully examines cases of scientific misconduct.
In research, trust is essential. The key principles of research integrity are honesty, accountability, respect towards colleagues and responsibility towards society. In order to clarify the difficult issues that arise when these principles are violated, and to detect plagiarism and conduct the relevant proceedings, the SNSF has set up its own Research Integrity Commission and Plagiarism Control Group. In addition, together with the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences, swissuniversities and Innosuisse, it has provided detailed definitions of research integrity and of correct and fair proceedings in a Code of Conduct.
Procedure in the event of suspected misconduct
The SNSF investigates all alleged cases of scientific misconduct. If the allegations are verifiable, the Commission on Scientific Integrity examines the case in detail. Should the suspicion be confirmed, it initiates an investigation. If the alleged violation occurred at a research institution, that institution – usually the employer – is primarily responsible for the case. In this event, the SNSF waits before launching its own investigation until the results of the proceedings conducted by the responsible institution are available. The Commission on Scientific Integrity then examines whether all aspects relating to the SNSF have been sufficiently clarified. If this is not the case, the Commission conducts its own proceedings.
The Commission on Scientific Integrity assesses whether any further clarifications, reprimands or further sanctions are necessary and forwards its recommendations to the Presiding Board of the National Research Council; the Presiding Board makes the final decision.
The presumption of innocence applies to all proceedings. Those concerned are given the opportunity to present their view of the case. Even after a suspected case has been confirmed, the identities of those concerned remain confidential.
Most scientific misconduct proceedings at the SNSF concern plagiarism. For this reason, the SNSF maintains a plagiarism control group, which investigates allegations and regularly carries out random checks on around 5 per cent of research applications. The reports of the Plagiarism Control Group are published in anonymised form in the annual reports of the Commission on Scientific Integrity.
Reports of the Commission on Scientific Integrity
The Commission on Scientific Integrity reports annually on its own activities and those of the Plagiarism Control Group. Cases are summarised and presented in anonymised form to protect the identities of those concerned.
Regulations and guidelines
The SNSF’s position is based on the following rules:
- SNF Regulations on Scientific Misconduct of 2016 (PDF)
- Regulations of the Commission on Research Integrity of 2016 (PDF)
- SNSF Funding Regulations (Art. 15 and Art. 43)
- Federal Act on the Promotion of Research and Innovation (RIPA, Art. 12)
- Swiss Code of Conduct for Scientific Integrity of 2021 (PDF)
- ALLEA: The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity of 2023
- Singapore Statement on Research Integrity of 2010
- Global Research Council: Statement of Principles for Research Integrity of 2013 (PDF)