Every year, hundreds of student degree projects are completed at Lund University. These works are often of a good research standard and are similar to research in this sense. In some studies, humans are exposed to certain risks. Others deal with sensitive personal data. Therefore, it is natural to ask oneself whether student degree projects need to undergo ethical review. The answer is that the requirement to undergo ethical review does not normally apply to such projects, but there are exceptions. Read below about the rules that apply to projects within the framework of first and second cycle education.
Student degree projects and research
Degree projects at the Bachelor’s or Master’s level are normally not considered research in the legal sense. In these cases, the requirement for ethical review stated in the Act on the Ethical Review of Research Involving Humans does not apply. There are, however, some exceptions. Student degree projects that are expected to be published in a research context or that are expected to be expanded and included in a doctoral thesis are considered to be research. Such projects are to be reviewed if they include any of the conditions specified in the Act (Sections 3-4). The fact that degree projects are routinely made available online is not considered publication in a research context.
Read more about what kinds of research need to undergo ethical review
- Article on student work and ethical review (in Swedish)
It is relatively unusual for the ethical review board to receive applications concerning studies within the framework of first and second cycle education. If the board receives such an application and deems the study to fall outside the area of application of the Ethical Review Act, it may provide an advisory statement. This can help the applicant to improve the study from an ethical perspective or refer to other relevant legislation. The advisory statement is also proof that no attempt has been made to evade the law.
Other forms of ethical review
Naturally, the higher education institution should only allow student degree projects which are ethically defensible, regardless of whether or not they fall under the Ethical Review Act. However, approaches to ensuring ethical correctness vary from one study programme to another. Sometimes the supervisor alone takes responsibility for the review. In other cases, there is a review system similar to that which applies to research. If, as a student, you are uncertain as to what rules apply in your case, you should primarily contact your supervisor or the course directors.
Do you have any questions regarding research ethics regulations? As an employee of Lund University, you can turn to forskningsetik [at] lu [dot] se.