Title: Ludwig Boltzmann Gesellschaft

Overview

The LBG Ethics and Diversity Hub is an interdisciplinary platform bringing together expertise on Research Ethics and Integrity, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion from across the organization.

On this page

An open and inclusive forum, the Hub is home to the LBG Research Ethics Committee, provides advice, support and consultation on all things Ethics and Diversity, and develops standards and guidelines in these areas in collaboration with international partners. The Hub welcomes researchers and practitioners from within and outside LBG who want to get involved in these areas.

LBG Research Ethics Committee

The LBG Research Ethics committee (REC) provides formal ethical review for all non-biomedical research with human participants. With core expertise in social science and applied ethics, it draws on a network of internal and external subject experts to cover a wide range of topics in conventional and participatory research. The committee has existed for two years and was opened to external applicants in 2024.

The LBG REC is committed to international research ethics standards including but not limited to

The REC is open to

LBG researchers whose research is NOT required by Austrian law to be assessed by a REC for clinical/biomedical research and who wish to submit their project for review on a voluntary basis.

Find out if your project is legally required to be assessed by a biomedical REC.

Why should I get ethics review if not required by law?

Researchers from other institutions from within and outside Austria who

  1. do not have access to a REC at their home institution or whose REC has declared the research outside its remit, and
  2. are not required by the law of their home country to apply to a national REC.

For both groups, before making an application, we kindly ask that you confirm with your home institution that it cannot/will not review your project and wherever possible, submit written evidence of this with your application.

How to apply

Please download the application form here. Once you have completed all relevant sections, please submit the form alongside all relevant documentation (consent forms, participant information, study protocol, questionnaire…) to erp@yot.np.ng

How does the review process work?

If you require support in completing the form please contact us at the above email address.

Consultation and Support

The Hub provides advice and support in the following areas:

Research Ethics: we can help plan and implement all ethical aspects of your research, at all stages of the project lifecycle: research design, methodology, REC review, data collection and analysis, and dissemination. Whether you are planning to submit to a funding call or just want to make sure that your project is up to the highest ethical standards, we are happy to answer all your questions big or small. You can also download templates for Informed Consent and other ethics documentation here.

Research Ethics for participatory research: In collaboration with experts from the LBG OIS Center, we can provide specific advice on ethical aspects of participatory research, Citizen Science and PPIE.

Research Integrity: good scientific practice also involves questions of integrity, such as conflict of interest, publication ethics or foreign interference. Our expertise is informed by the standards of the Committee for Publication Ethics (COPE) and Hub members are actively involved in current policy debates on handling retractions, AI use in scientific research and publishing, and good conduct within the scientific community.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: we can advise on developing and implementing Diversity initiatives both within research institutions and teams, and within specific research projects. Next to gender equity, our team have expertise in conventional and participatory research with vulnerable groups, accessibility, culturally sensitive research, and neurodiversity.

Simply email your query to rguvpfuho@yot.np.ng or arrange for an online consultation with one of our experts.

Research and Development

The Hub is actively involved in developing policy, standards and guidelines in our areas of expertise.

While we lead on internal policy development within LBG, we also contribute to international collaborations to develop ethical standards for participatory research and to research on health inequities and ethics in health- and social care. Our members are active researchers in these areas and participate in international research networks, present at national and international conferences, and publish on ethics, diversity and inclusion in peer reviewed venues.

Contact

Interested in learning more or getting involved? Get in touch: rguvpfuho@yot.np.ng

Team:

Mag. Steph Grohmann MSc PhD

Senior Program Manager Ethics

Hub Lead, Head of LBG REC

fgrcu.tebuznaa@yot.np.ng

Steph Grohmann is a medical anthropologist with a background in social care who obtained her doctorate at Goldsmiths, University of London. She has over a decade experience in research on health inequities, the anthropology of ethics, and applied ethics in health- and social care, and has taught a wide range of postgraduate courses in qualitative methods and research ethics for a range of health-related fields. Before joining LBG, Steph has worked at the universities of London, Oxford and Edinburgh.

Adis Šerifović BA MA

Project Manager Inclusion OIS Center

nqvf.frevsbivp@yot.np.ng

Adis Šerifović works as a Project Manager for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the OIS Center [link] and is also a PhD student in Applied Medical Sciences at the Medical University of Vienna. After studying Social Work, he gained extensive experience in participatory research with a special focus on engaging vulnerable and marginalized groups. His doctoral research concerns the conceptualization of health literacy and its interpretation in underserved populations.

FAQ

  • Is my project legally required to be assessed by a clinical REC?

    The Austrian Ministry of Science informs that “research concerning the clinical evaluation of medications and medical products, the application of novel medical methods and applied medical research on human participants” is legally required to be reviewed by a biomedical REC as specified in § 8c Kranken- und Kuranstaltengesetz des Bundes (KAKuG) and § 30 Universitätsgesetz 2002 (UG). This kind of REC is usually found at medical universities and research hospitals, in some cases there is also a regional REC (Landesethikkommission).

    This means that if your project involves biomedical research (such as a clinical trial or any kind of medical intervention including the evaluation of medications, medical devices or medical techniques), you are required by law to seek approval from a REC. If you are in doubt which REC is responsible for your project, we may be able to help you find out.

    If your project is in the medical/health field but does not involve biomedical/clinical research (such as a patient survey or interview study, observations on health- and social care contexts, or qualitative sub-elements of a clinical trial), you will not normally be legally required to have it reviewed. The same applies if your research is outside the biomedical field, e.g. social scientific or empirical humanities research.

    However, since research involving human participants (especially vulnerable populations) is never entirely free of ethical risks, the Ministry of Science and we recommend you consider applying for voluntary ethical review.

  • Why should I get ethics review if not required by law?

    The legal requirement to have biomedical research with human participants reviewed by a REC is a minimum standard to ensure that the health, safety and dignity of research participants is not compromised, and that mandatory international standards of ethical research practice such as Informed Consent and Respect for Persons are adhered to. These standards have been formulated in response to historical human rights violations especially in (but not limited to) medical research, and are codified in a range of documents such as:

    The Nuremberg Code

    The Declaration of Helsinki

    The Belmont Report

    Non-biomedical research is often seen to carry a lower risk for human participants. In Austria, ethical review in social science, law and the humanities is therefore voluntary. However, this does not mean that non-biomedical research is entirely risk-free.

    Especially research on sensitive topics such as mental and physical illness, political persecution or social deprivation can cause participants considerable distress, and in some cases, profound harm. This especially applies to vulnerable populations, such as minors, patients or incarcerated people.

    However, researchers too carry risks in neglecting ethical aspects of research: for example, lack of informed consent documentation may prevent a study from obtaining funding or from being published in a leading international journal, and in some cases, may even lead to a study having to be retracted.

    Moreover, good scientific practice also involves conscientiousness about power differentials in the research process, questions of confidentiality and/or attribution of research results, fair compensation, transparent complaints procedures, and many more.

    Leading international research institutions therefore most often operate a compulsory internal REC review policy. While in Austria, this is not (yet) everywhere the case, there is a growing awareness that even if ethical oversight is voluntary, that does not mean it is optional.

  • How does the LBG ethics review process work?

    In the first instant, we recommend that you contact us at rguvpfuho@yot.np.ng to discuss your project and any questions you may have on how to put together your application. If you are sure you have all necessary information, please download our application form.

    Once you have completed all relevant sections, please submit the form alongside all relevant documentation (consent forms, participant information, study protocol, questionnaire…) to erp@yot.np.ng.

    When your application reaches us, it will be reviewed by one or several members of the REC, depending on the nature and field of the research and the level of ethical risk involved (e.g. does the research involve minors or people unable to give consent, is there a high likelihood of the research causing distress., etc.). Where necessary, the REC may seek an opinion from a subject expert from within LBG to discuss specific aspects of the research.

    We aim to process applications within two weeks. For more complex research design or where there is a requirement for substantial amendments, this period may be extended.

    Once assessment is complete, there will be one of three outcomes:

    • The REC can provide a positive opinion: the project has been found to be ethically sound.
    • The REC requests amendments: the project has been found to be principle ethically sound but requires certain changes/additional documentation to receive a positive opinion. In this case, you will be able to supply an amended application as soon as you are able.
    • The REC is unable to provide a positive opinion: the project has fundamental ethical flaws that cannot be amended though changes or additional documentation.

    Once your project has received a positive opinion, you will be issued with a letter stating this which you may use as proof of review in funding applications or for publication purposes.

    Please note that the REC only issues ethical opinions. They do not constitute legal or medical advice, and do not imply any kind of instruction, directive or order. LBG employees who receive an opinion from the REC are encouraged to discuss its implications with their line manager.