Code of Ethics

Reykjavik University is a knowledge community where students, teachers and other employees work together on the acquisition, innovation and dissemination of knowledge. Such a community requires all its members to take moral responsibility for their actions. In order to facilitate this, the University wishes to create a work environment where communication and activities are characterised by respect, integrity, fairness and equality.

The objective of this code of ethics is to ensure that the conduct of all those who work within the University meets the strictest moral requirements that can be made within an establishment of its kind. The code consists of 10 numbered items which are intended to serve as a reminder to everyone within the University of their obligations concerning communication and work methods. It should, however, not be regarded as a complete description of what constitutes desirable behaviour.

  1. We respect those who study and work within the University as individuals, treat them with consideration and respect their confidence.
  2. We prevent the occurrence of any form of injustice, be it bullying, sexual harassment or discrimination on the grounds of irrelevant factors such as gender, age, faith, nationality, race, disability or sexual orientation.
  3. We defend the honour of the University and take no action that might cast shadow on the University's reputation in the community.
  4. We complete all our duties at RU with honesty and sincerity and through our actions encourage others to do the same.
  5. We seek knowledge with openness and objectivity and emphasise professional work methods, critical thinking and factual reasoning.
  6. We respect confidentiality and protect the interests of those who participate in our research.
  7. We respect scholarly autonomy, always work according to our own convictions and avoid having conflicting interests affect the outcome of our work.
  8. We respect intellectual property rights, do not take credit for the work of others and always cite the sources we use in accordance with accepted scientific practices.
  9. We make every effort to be objective and fair in our comments, feedback and reference to others within the University.
  10. We are active participants in the operations and development of the University and consider it our duty to communicate information that might be conducive to improving the University.

Appointment and operating procedures of the ethics committee of Reykjavik University

Approved by the President of RU and the Executive Committee in October 2007.

Reviewed and approved by the President of RU and the Executive Committee in September 2011.

1. Appointment of the Ethics Committee

1.1  The President of RU appoints a six-person Ethics Committee. The Committee shall be composed of a Chairman from the University's Support Services, one representative from the group of faculty members in each School by nomination of the respective School, and one representative nominated by the RU Student Association.

1.2  Committee members are appointed for two years at a time. Generally, two to three Committee members shall be appointed for a second period. Committee members shall not serve on the Committee for longer than four consecutive years.

2. Scope of Power and Role of the Ethics Committee

2.1  The Ethics Committee of Reykjavik University operates according to the RU Code of Ethics, cf. Paragraph 3 in Article 2 of the Higher Education Institution Act no. 63/2006.

2.2  The role of the RU Ethics Committee is to:

                 a) review observations concerning breaches to the Code of Ethics

                 b) take a stance on whether the Code of Ethics has been breached and on the severity of breaches.

2.3  The Ethics Committee does not discuss cases on its own initiative.

2.4  The Ethics Committee is allowed to finalise a case without taking a stance, cf. Article 2.2b, if the parties concerned conclude the case with a settlement.

2.5  The Chairman of the Ethics Committee records minutes of meetings. The minutes shall, for example, specify observations sent to the Committee, handling of cases, and decisions on conclusions to cases.

2.6  Committee members shall recuse themselves when issues are discussed which concern the School where they work. In other respects, rules of administrative law shall be followed regarding the suitability of Committee members to handle individual cases.

3. Involvement and Case Foundation

3.1  Those who believe that students and employees at Reykjavik University have breached the Code of Ethics are allowed to put a case to the Ethics Committee.

3.2 Observations shall be referred to the Chairman of the Ethics Committee.

3.3  Observations concerning breaches to the Code of Ethics shall be referred to the Ethics Committee as soon as possible and no later than 4 months from the time when the alleged incident or behaviour came to light. The observation shall be in writing and signed by the person submitting it. The observation shall describe the incidents/behaviour which prompted it, and it shall specify in a reasoned manner the provisions of the Code of Ethics which the alleged breach pertains to. The observation shall be accompanied by available information on the alleged breach. The Ethics Committee can decide that a party who submits an observation to the Committee shall remain anonymous. This authorisation will only be used under special circumstances.

3.4  Cases or individual parts of cases which do not concern the Code of Ethics will be dismissed by the Committee. The same applies to cases which are obviously unsubstantiated and to cases which concern legal standards which will be ruled on in a court of law or by the authorities. If a case is immediately dismissed by the Ethics Committee, the Committee shall notify the party who submitted the observation of that conclusion.

4. Handling of Cases

4.1  The Chairman of the Ethics Committee calls a meeting within one week from the time when an observation is received by the Committee. The handling of cases is contingent on all qualified Committee members being present.

4.2  If an observation is taken under review, the Ethics Committee determines whether further information needs to be acquired. The Committee can require a party who submits an observation to put forth further information available to him or her. The Committee also has access to information concerning the case in the archives of RU.

4.3 The Ethics Committee can seek the opinion of expert parties inside or outside RU if need be.

4.4  The Ethics Committee notifies the party which the case concerns of the submitted observation, requests information available to the party and gives the party an opportunity to present his or her viewpoints, if the party's stance and reasoning are not already known. The Ethics Committee can give a party a specific time limit for this purpose. The time limit shall generally be two weeks. Comments from the party and information which he or she may want to present in the case shall be submitted to the Committee in writing within the time limit. The Committee can decide to acquire verbal information and/or call upon the parties concerned, one or both, to give a report. The Ethics Committee shall record all information given verbally and which is relevant to the conclusion of the case. The record shall be presented to the parties for approval. The Ethics Committee is authorised to make a sound recording of such meetings or debriefings with the approval of the parties concerned.

4.5  The parties concerned shall generally be briefed on information concerning the case as the information is submitted, unless this is obviously unnecessary or if it is opposed by legitimate reasons in the estimation of the Ethics Committee.

4.6  If the parties concerned do not heed a request to submit information or comments within the time limit, the request shall be reiterated and a new short time limit specified. If the party which an observation concerns does not heed such a request, the conclusion of the Ethics Committee will be based on the available information. If the party who submitted the observation does not heed a request to present information to support his or her observation or if a case can otherwise not be sufficiently resolved, the Ethics Committee is authorised to dismiss the case.

5. Conclusion and Response

5.1  The Ethics Committee shall conclude cases as quickly as possible. Cases referred to the Committee during regular semesters at the University shall generally be concluded within eight weeks from the time when the observation was received by the Committee. If an observation is submitted between semesters, the Chairman shall call a meeting at the earliest opportunity but never later than during the first week of the next semester.

5.2  The Ethics Committee shall take a reasoned stance on whether the RU Code of Ethics has been breached. The reasoning shall concisely relate the facts of the matter and the rules which are breached. If a conclusion is based on assessment or interpretation of the Code of Ethics, the reasoning shall give an account of the viewpoints which were predominant in making the assessment or interpretation. If the Ethics Committee concludes that the Code of Ethics has been breached, its position on the severity of the breach and whether the breach is recurrent shall also be stated.

5.3  The conclusion of the Ethics Committee is in writing and is announced to the parties concerned, the President of RU, the Dean of the School in question or the Executive Director of Support Services. The Ethics Committee can decide to keep information and conclusions in individual cases confidential.

5.4  The conclusions of the Ethics Committee are final and can not be appealed.

5.5. Breaches of the Code of Ethics will be evaluated and administered by either  the President of RU, Dean or the Executive Director, depending on the circumstances, all of whom are authorised to administer a warning or dismissal, temporarily or permanently, from the University.

Penalties shall be based on the severity of the breach, as determined by the Ethics Committee at Reykjavik University. The following generally applies to penalties for breaches of the RU Code of Ethics:

a. A first breach of the RU Code of Ethics will result in a warning, except in cases where the breach is deemed severe, and then it may, depending on the nature of the case, result in a temporary or permanent dismissal from the University.

b. A second breach of the RU Code of Ethics will result in a temporary or permanent dismissal. The Dean, President of RU or Executive Director may, however, in milder cases make an exception and give a warning.

c. Severe or repeated breaches shall generally lead to a permanent dismissal.

Approved by the President of RU and the Executive Committee in April 2006. Reviewed and approved by President of RU and the Executive Committee in September 2011 and again in March 2013.

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