Ethics Commission of the Faculties for Psychotherapy Science and the Faculty for Psychologie – Rules of Operation

Constitution and structure § 1 

(1) The Sigmund Freud Private University has established an Ethics Commission as the audit body in charge of ethical issues of research projects of the Faculty for Psychotherapy Science and the Faculty for Psychology.

(2) The Ethics Commission consists of three members selected from the academic staff of the University. The members of the Ethics Commission are elected by the Senate from the scientific staff members and choose among themselves a chairman/woman. Heads of scientific departments are entitled to propose candidates appropriate for designation to the Senate. Prerequisite for designation is a consensus between Rectorate and Senate. For every member an alternate member is elected in and delegated in addition analogously.

(3) The term of office is five years, and a re-election is permitted. If a member is withdrawn, the Senate will elect a new member for the Ethics Commission, who will continue to hold this position until the end of the respective term.

(4) Members of the Ethics Commission are independent from directives in their function and obliged to maintain professional confidentiality. Decisions, whether research projects fulfil the principles of research ethics or not, do require unanimity. Every member of the Ethics Commission is eligible – if required for the evaluation of an application – to invite academic staff members of SFU or other Universities, equipped with specific expertise in the relevant research area, for consultancy. Consultancy inputs can be included into the decision process of the Ethics Commission.

(5) Each member of the Ethics Commission is obliged to avoid execution in cases of bias, especially when involved into an assessed project. The alternate member will represent the member.

Tasks of the Ethics Commission § 2 

(1) Ethics Commission performs assessments on following research projects:

  1. Research projects on and with human beings, i.e. research projects that might impair physical or psychological integrity, right to privacy, other subjective rights or interests of research subjects.
  2. In research projects including animals in a manner that goes beyond mere observation, the Ethics Commission has to examine whether the project complies with animal protection laws and animals’ security and welfare are granted appropriately.

(2) In research projects to be carried out along with diploma, master or doctoral theses, the respective student shall request an opinion from the Ethics Commission, given that paragraphs 1 or 2 apply.

(3) The Ethics Commission is not responsible for compliance with the ethics requirement in students’ practice work, unless it is part of the research topic of a research project.

Ensuring good scientific practice § 3 

(1) The Ethics Commission is responsible for ensuring good scientific practice. In ensuring such good scientific practice, the Sigmund Freud Private University is oriented on the Directive of the Austrian Agency for Research Integrity (OeAWI – in the current version 2019.

The Austrian Private Universities Conference (ÖPUK) is an associate member of the Austrian Agency for Research Integrity.

(2) MMag. Dr. Stefan Hampl, Vice Rector Academics, is available in his function as ombudsperson of good scientific practice: E-Mail. Ombudspersons may be contacted confidentially, and they are released from any obligation to report perceptions of any violation of good scientific practice.

Assessment § 4 

(1) Initiation of assessment of an application to the Ethics Committee is exclusively possible via Online-Submission-System.

(2) The Ethics Commission can only act on the basis of a substantiated written application by a member of the academic staff in charge of a research project according to § 2, Section 1 in the context of their official duties by entering it into the appropriate box in the online-submission-system.
The concrete demand shall be stated in the rationale of the application to be assessed by the Ethics Commission (e.g. request for funding of a publication or a publisher). In case of research projects supposed to be funded or sponsored by university funds, the Rector or the leaders of the respective scientific organizational units may request obtaining an opinion from the Ethics Commission. This justifies a demand according to § 2, Section 1.

(3) The application shall be accompanied by a research plan and documentation of the research project. Statements regarding the professional qualifications of the scientists’ involved in the research project, the objective of the study, the applied methods and the funding of the project shall be included. All circumstances that are relevant for the ethical acceptability according to § 2, Section 2, shall be particularly pointed out. Potential risks to a subject in case of experiments on or with humans shall be described. Possible conflict of interest scenarios have to be declared by participating scientists. Moreover, the application shall in any case contain provisions for suspension or premature finalization of the research project, to ensure indemnity of expenses for subjects and protection of personal data. The Ethics Commission may request additional information to substantiate the research project.

(4) In case of positive processing of the application, the applicant will be informed via e-mail by a member of the Ethics Commission. The application remains available in the system as a backup and accessible for the Ethics Commission.

(5) The Ethics Commission has to assess in its report, whether in performing the research project the rights, safety and welfare of the subjects (Section 1, digit 1) and the observance of the animal protection law (Section 1, digit 2) are reasonably assured.

Information Guidelines for data protection and data storage § 5 

(1) When using and analysing person-related data intended for the sole purpose of research (e.g.: theses, research projects) it is necessary to follow the stated guidelines of the Austrian Law of Data Protection as well as the regulations defined in the Handbook of European Law for Data Protection (2014) issued by the Agency of European Union for Fundamental Rights.

(2)  It is vital to ensure the following:

– Data must be protected against accidental or illegitimate destruction and loss
– Data collection and usage must be carried out appropriately
– Prohibition of unauthorized data access is guaranteed
– Data must be anonymized. Person-related data must be encrypted immediately
– Person-related data must be deleted accordingly, after relevance for scientific/statistical work is not given anymore
– Data has to be anonymized before being made accessible to data analysts and data processors (e.g.: assistants performing statistical analysis or transcribers of anonymous recordings)
– The Ethics Commission must be informed (justification included) about intentional transmission of person-related data (e.g.: for scientific collaborations or transmission to external data analysts/processors)
– After completion of scientific work, data must be deleted or stored in an anonymized format. Interviewers must maintain professional confidentiality!

Concerning theses, it is the responsibility of the student’s supervisor to review and check data quality and data reality. Both student and supervisor are obliged to maintain confidentiality for data protection purposes.

Members of ethics commission

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Giselher Guttmann (Head of the Ethics Commission) E-Mail Jutta Fiegl E-Mail Brigitte Sindelar E-Mail