Frequently Asked Questions

Since 2020, TU Wien has a Pilot Research Ethics Committee (Pilot REC) from which you can obtain an informal peer review and recommendations for your research design. After the review, researchers whose project has been discussed receive a confirmation of the peer review (e.g. for submission to research funders). If you have a question concerning ethics approval for your research, please contact the Service Unit of Responsible Research Practices.

First of all: congratulations! TU Wien has a Pilot Ethics Committee that is happy to perform an informal peer review of your proposal or project. Beginning in October 2021, meetings will be held regularly on the third Friday of each month. Please contact the Service Unit of Responsible Research Practices for more information and support.

Yes, do identify any ethics issues that your work raises in the Ethics Issues Table and write an Ethics Self-Assessment in the Ethics Issues section of the proposal. All proposals that are considered for funding in Horizon Europe go through an ethics review procedure. Not identifying the issues does not make your proposal pass faster or with less effort through the evaluation – quite the opposite. Remember, the time you save by not addressing ethics in your Horizon Europe proposal may result in much more time spent in the Grant Agreement phase or in the project itself. Your project funding does not cover that effort unless you have considered it in the proposal phase. If you need any support, contact the Service Unit of Responsible Research Practices for tips.

Please contact the Service Unit of Responsible Research Practices as soon as your research problem and methodology are so clear that you can explain them in lay terms to another person. As addressing your ethics issues may take some writing effort, do not leave your consultation until the last minute. Plan ahead and get in touch for an appointment well in time before your deadline. We are happy to support you.

The legal questions concerning privacy and data protection are best answered by legal experts. Please refer to the pages of the Data Protection Officer. Please consider the information on the website of the Data Protection Organisation and contact the Data Protection Officer of TU Wien (Christina Thirsfeld, christina.thirsfeld@tuwien.ac.at) or the Data Protection Coordinator of the Vice Rectorate Research and Innovation (Verena Dolovai, verena.dolovai@tuwien.ac.at).

MA and PhD students need support in research ethics just as much as more senior research staff members do. At best, your thesis supervisor should initiate the contact with the Service Unit of Responsible Research Practices.

In principle, involvement of students in research is encouraged. When your students participate in your study, they can closely see how research is being done and learn a lot for their own research projects. However; involving students in research can also be ethically problematic. This has to do with the fact that all research involving people is supposed to be based on a free and informed consent and be non-coercive. If you ask students in your course to participate in your research, they may not feel quite free to refuse. This is in particular the case if participation is tied to course work and becomes part of grading. If you make research part of your course work, make sure research participation is but one option among other meaningful ones from which students can choose. Also, make sure that participation in or opting out of the study does not affect grading. Your students should have the possibility to get full points in the course without participating in the study. For participating in the study, and for the meaningful alternatives offered to it, only extra or “bonus” points can be earned.

Make sure that you obtain informed consent and document the consent procedures. Describe the risk of harm to your students and make sure that they can opt out of your study at any time, without any consequences.

Be aware that involving students as research participants is likely to be flagged by international journals and/or conferences as an issue that requires formal ethics scrutiny by a research ethics committee. You can submit your work to ethical peer review by the Service Unit of Responsible Research Practices.
Please get in touch with Research Ethics Coordination if you have any further questions, we are happy to support you.