Research & Art

How and when should you apply for ethical review of research

Familiarize yourself well in advance on the national guidelines and Aalto University practices
Paperi, jossa tekstiä ja osa tekstistä merkitty korostuskynällä.
Photo: Aino Huovio

The general principles of ethical review of research in Finland

Ethical review of research can only be carried out before data is collected. Hence an ethical review statement cannot be issued after the research has begun. Ethical review of research is a statement about the ethical acceptability of the research.

The researcher is always responsible for the ethical and moral solutions made in the research. Submitting the research for ethical review never transfers this responsibility to the ethics committee.

The researcher must be familiar with and comply with the data protection legislation in force and with the research-related data protection guidelines issued by Aalto University.

Theses supervisors are responsible for ensuring that their supervisees are familiar with the ethical principles, but the writer of the thesis is responsible for their work being ethical. If ethical review is necessary, the statement request shall be prepared jointly by the student and the supervisor.

Failure to apply for an ethical review , if it should have been applied for according to the national guidelines, constitutes an infringement of the responsible conduct of research (RCR). (see link below)

In addition to a favourable research ethics statement, you may need a research permit, for example from the research site or location (city, company, etc.) before you can start collecting data. For research on Aalto University students, staff or data the Aalto University research permit process occurs directly for Aalto researchers after reception of accepted research ethics statement. See more: Research permissions process for Aalto University | Aalto University 

The researcher may request an official description of the guidelines and practices of Finland from the secretary of the Research Ethics Committee of Aalto University, if, for example, the publisher requests an ethical review of the research, where an ethical review was not necessary according to the national guidelines (an ex post statement).

Look up the following video on Ethical review in human sciences in Finland:

Ethical review in  the human sciences in Finland

 by Finnish National Board on Research Integrity TENK and Linda Saukko-Rauta/Redanredan Oy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Read more

The ethical principles of research with human participants and ethical review in the human sciences in Finland (

Processing of personal data in research (aalto.en)

Responsible conduct of research (

Research Ethics Request -process in Aalto University

At Aalto University, there are two processes for research ethics statement requests: the committee (full) process and concise process with committee chair decision. The concise process is aimed for cases when the research ethics statement is needed for the funders or publishers. 

A researcher can request a concise procedure from the committee in the following situations:


  • where the main reason for the request for a research ethics statement is a request from a funder, partner, or publisher,


  • where research data on Aalto university students or teaching is used by an Aalto researcher for research (the objective being research output)



  • where no sensitive personal data or personal data belonging to special personal data categories is collected

The concise procedure is carried out by one member or deputy member of the research ethics committee appointed by the chair as well as a legal advisor. The research ethics statement proposal is presented to the chairman by the secretary of the Research Ethics Committee based on the review. The chair of the Research Ethics Committee makes the decision on the research ethics statement on behalf of the committee based on the review. The statement can be used as document for research ethics review similar to the full review statement. 

In practice, when making research ethics statement request in the concise process a research ethics statement request form is filled and relevant attachments submitted (see information and link below). Questions concerning research ethical risks can be answered "not applicable", if there are no research ethical issues involved. 

Based on the evaluation process, the chairman of the research ethics committee can transfer the request to committee process (full review).

Full Research Ethics Request by committee in Aalto University

The full, committee handling process for research ethics review is for research ethics requests that have some research ethical issues or risks and/or collect sensitive, special category personal data data. (see below for more detailed information)

Aalto University Research Ethics committee has meetings approximately once a month and the review is conducted by two members of the committee named by the chair, and by legal advisor. Decision is made by the committee.  

When do you need ethical review for your research?

You will get the best understanding of the national guidelines when you read the guidelines yourself, they are is clear and quick to read. (see link above)

If you answer “yes” to any of the following points, you need to apply for an ethical review. Keep in mind that the funder and / or publisher may also request an evaluation. The ethical review must be done BEFORE any collection of research data. Be sure to request ethical review well in advance of the planned start of the study

At what stage of research process do I need to apply for ethical review?

  1. When ethical review is necessary (see previous section), a request for an ethical statement should be made when the research has received funding or its implementation has been decided upon, and in any case before data collection.
  2. Be sure to request ethical review well in advance of the planned start of the study
  3. Ethical review cannot be done afterwards (ex post)!

How do I apply for ethical review of your research?

Next instruction on filling in the research ethics statement request e-form are presented. Look up instruction on the e-form as well, and do not hesitate to ask for help from the committee secretary. Here you can find answers to the most frequently asked questions: Research ethics review - FAQ's | Aalto University

The Aalto University Research Ethics Committee meets once a month and statement requests must be in the e-system three (3) weeks before the meeting. You can find the exact schedule in the bottom section of the committee main page.  

Research Ethics Committee

Research Ethics Statement request -form

Doing your thesis and need ethical review - how to act?

Thesis supervisors, especially for doctoral and master's degrees, are responsible for ensuring that their supervisees become familiar with the ethical principles, but the author of the thesis is responsible for the ethics of his or her work. If ethical review is necessary, the student shall apply for it together with his / her supervisor.

You cannot access the e form with Student IDs. You can request a working version of the form as a Word document from the committee secretary, review the form with your supervisor, and seek advice from the committee secretary if necessary. Your supervisor must be marked on the form under (PI / supervisor) and the form will be entered into the system by your supervisor.

See also:

Thesis advising in Aalto University 

Recommendation of supervision of doctoral dissertation UNIFI and TENK 

If you do not agree with the statement received?

If the person who has requested an ethical review statement does not accept the proposed changes in the statement or the decision of the human sciences ethics committee, they may request a statement on the matter from TENK. The request for a statement, including the grounds for requesting a statement, must be submitted within two months of the ethics committee’s decision

I have received a research ethics statement, but my research plan or some other thing has changed - what to do?

Send by e-mail to the committee secretary 

  1. Information about the number and name of the ethical statement and when you received it
  2. What has changed, concisely and precisely
  3. Previous form where you have clearly marked the changes (pdf / link to the form in the system)

The chairman of the committee will assess whether the change requires a new statement request for the committee, a new evaluation by reviewers or whether the change is so small that it can be approved by a chair decision.

More information:

Secretary of the Research Ethics committee Senior Advisor Annukka Jyrämä, [email protected].

More information and advice


New concise process available for research ethics statement requests

At Aalto University there are now two processes open for research ethics statement requests: the committee (full) process and concise process with committee chair decision.

Paperi, jossa tekstiä ja osa tekstistä merkitty korostuskynällä.

Research ethics review - FAQ's

Basics and practicalities about research ethics process - frequently asked questions

Research & Art
Personal data

How to handle personal data in research?

Recognize whether you are processing personal data and follow these instructions to handle it correctly.

Doctoral hats / Aalto University

Materials on research ethics at MyCourses (external link)

The material supports introductory courses in doctoral studies to familiarize students with the topic of research integrity and ethics, focusing on the practicalities of being a responsible researcher using Aalto guidelines and practices. Login to MyCourses to access the materials.


How to make an ethics self-assessment in research projects – Aalto support and guidelines

Here we provide support, links and tips on how to work your way through the EU Grants: How to complete your ethics self-assessment – document

For personnel – highlights and support for your work
Kaksi henkilöä pöydän ääressä kirjojen ja kannettavien tietokoneiden kanssa.

Ethical review of research and DPIA

Information when and how to prepare DPIA in research as an appendix for research ethics statement request

For personnel – highlights and support for your work
RDM & Open Science Training

Training in Research Data Management and Open Science

We offer free and open to all training in research data management and open science.


Research permissions process for Aalto University

An easy, efficient, and transparent process for evaluating requests to research or collecting data on Aalto University students or staff; gaining access to the students or staff or gaining a right to use Aalto controlled data.

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