Ethical principles at COBE Lab

All studies are reviewed and approved by our Human Subjects Committee.  The purpose of the COBE Lab Human Subjects Committee is to ensure the protection of research participants involved in studies at COBE, enabling the safe participation of human subjects in studies conducted at COBE Lab.

  • The primary purpose of the COBE HSC is to evaluate whether studies follow the ethical guidelines of the Lab. The focus of this evaluation is whether the interests of the participants are sufficiently protected in the study. Studies that are found to not follow the guidelines of the lab will not be granted access to lab resources.

All researchers with access to COBE Lab are required to complete a course on research ethics. 

COBE Lab is guided by the ethical principles regarding research involving human participants as set out in the Declaration of Helsinki and the Belmont Report: Ethical Principles and Guidelines for the Protection of Human Subjects of Research.

Respect for the participant

  • Participants are to be treated with respect.
  • The selection of participants must be fair and special care must be taken not to involve vulnerable population only for convenience purposes. 

Informed consent

  • Participants must give informed consent before research can begin.
  • Consent is to be voluntary, specific and informed. Consent is to be obtained in writing.
  • Prior to giving consent, sufficient information regarding the purpose of the research and methods used is to be communicated to participants.
  • If research involves aspects that may influence willingness to participate, then this is communicated to participants prior to written consent as well.

Appropriate information about the study provided

  • Withholding information for participants is not acceptable, unless it is essential for research purposes.
  • When withholding information is essential to the research purpose, additional information is provided to the participants as soon as possible. Care should be taken that additional information does not conflict with the information in the informed consent form.
  • Participants are to be informed before the research is undertaken about their right to withdraw from the research, even without giving a reason, at any time during the data gathering. It should be clear whether and how withdrawal affects incentives for participating in the study, such as gift cards or monetary payments. For example, state whether payments are only made to those completing an entire session. In surveys, one should make sure the respondents are aware that completing the survey is voluntary. If carried out online, this is done with an informed consent screen.

Privacy and data protection measures

  • Participants must give approval for their data to be used for research purposes.
  • The collected data are anonymous and confidential. Exceptions from data handling privacy described here require separate approval from Datatilsynet, where necessary.
  • As a rule-of-thumb, the research data are collected anonymously, except when it is essential for the purpose of the research to be collected otherwise or practically impossible.
  • When personal or identifiable data are collected, they are stored separately from research data. Before running analyses, research data should be coded and made anonymous, and any links between personal and research data should be destroyed. COBE has set up its own data management system to among other things decouple personal or identifiable data from research data.
  • All personal or identifiable data collected during research are confidential, unless it has been agreed otherwise beforehand. In case confidentiality cannot be guaranteed for any reason, participants are to be informed in advance and they give specific consent to release their information.