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Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, The University of Tokyo

Ethics for Research

GSFS established “Ethical Guidelines for Research at the Graduate School of Frontier Sciences”. All degree-seeking students at GSFS must take lectures on ethics for research at least two times; i.e., just after your entrance and within 1 year after your entrance.

Ethical Guidelines for Research at the Graduate School of Frontier Sciences


Approved by the Graduate School Committee
Graduate School of Frontier Sciences
March 9, 2011
Amended April 10, 2013
Amended May 15, 2013
Amended January 28, 2015
Amended July 22, 2015


1. Attitude Required of Scientists

Every scientist starts out on the path of science as an individual human being, and every human is obliged to abide by the moral principles that define society. Those ethics call on us to be earnest and sincere in our dealings with others which include no lying, no deceiving, and no stealing among other principles. Adherence to ethical guidelines is just as important in scientific research as it is in everyday life. To accomplish this, scientists must be well aware of the harmful pressure of research that results from intensive observation and experimentation to elicit the truth, a pressure which can lead to unintentionally ignoring inconvenient data, or treating necessary conditions as sufficient conditions. Scientists must remember that the long history of science has taught that research built on a fragile foundation is doomed to eventual collapse. In the same vein, scientists must constantly approach their research with an objective viewpoint in pursuit of truth that will stand up to the scrutiny of generations to come.


2. Originality in Research

One of the most important attributes of good research is originality. Scientific progress represent an extensive accumulation of original discoveries, and as such scientists must be able to objectively explain the originality of their work based on appraisal of the originality of other scientists, not just actively pursue one’s own original research.Any assertion of original research without justly and properly appraising the ideas of others must be avoided at all costs.


3. Documenting the Research Process

Documenting your entire process is especially important, as research results can only qualify as scientific truth when they are based on objectivity and are reproducible under the same conditions. Recording the research process is an indispensable task that creates the primary information for self-checking the reproducibility of your research, and for enabling others to reproduce the same results. For this reason, every effort should be made to document the research process in detail through copious experiment recordkeeping, and to preserve that documentation and the test samples or specimens.


4. Fair and Responsible Publication

Scientists should endeavor to disseminate the results of their research throughout society as broadly as possible. This task is essential to fulfilling the duty of every scientist to accumulate the intellectual property shared by humankind and to repay society for its support of science. Research results can be publicized in various ways such as papers contributed to a scientific journal; reports submitted to a professional organization; oral or poster presentations at conferences, symposia, or other events; or graduate theses or dissertations. Regardless of the method, adhere strictly to the following guidelines to ensure the integrity of the information published:


(1) In addition to the obvious obligation of no falsification and no fabrication, avoid using vague language that could lead to misunderstandings. Also, explain your research in proper and sufficient detail to ensure that it is understood correctly.

(2) Properly cite the research accomplishments of others.

(3) When using unpublished ideas or data of other researchers, be sure to obtain their approval in advance, and to comply with the agreed upon manner regarding how such material should be presented.

(4) Pay due attention to copyrights and other intellectual property rights.

(5) Published research results must not be re-published under the guise of original material.

(6) You must be accountable for what you publish, at the time of publication and thereafter. This includes publishing any errors found in your work after its publication.


5. Integrity and Responsibility in Joint Research

Opportunities of engaging in joint research have expanded in recent years as a result of the growing diversity and complexity of research focuses, as well as the increasing convenience of transportation and telecommunications. When taking part in collaborative research projects, adhere to the following guidelines to avoid potential conflicts with research partners and/or their institutions.


(1) Make every effort so that your understanding of the project and that of your joint research colleagues are in sync with one another by maintaining close communications with them and by respecting their thoughts.

(2) Constantly maintain shared knowledge of experiment results by immediately informing colleagues involved in the joint research of any new research results that you obtain.

(3) The entire project team is responsible for dealing with any and all ethical issues that arise regarding joint research.

(4) Do not publish any results of joint research without the consent of your colleagues. The entire project team is responsible for all material published.

(5) Before publishing results or applying for patents, you and your joint research colleagues must discuss and agree upon authorship and inventorship.

(6) When engaging in joint research with people affiliated with other institutions (domestic or foreign), familiarize yourself with that institution’sethical guidelines and rules, and avoid infringing upon them.


6. Faculty Responsibilities

Faculty are obliged not only to pursue their research with a strong sense of ethics, but also to ensure that their students meet the same high standards by providing them with proper guidance and education on ethics, including the following guidelines:

(1) When new students join a research lab, faculty responsible for that lab must provide new students with ethical guidance in line with the Ethical Guidelines for Research at the Graduate School of Frontier Sciences and the Code of Conduct for Scientific Research prescribed by the university.

(2) Ensure that those doing research are fully aware of the content of the laws and regulations, policies, and university rules (including those of graduate schools, divisions, departments, and any other related organizational unit of the university).

(3) Continually check whether your students are in compliance with the code of ethics. If a student is found to have violated the code, promptly provide the proper ethical guidance needed to correct the errant behavior.

(4) Conduct necessary and proper guidance on research ethics in a timely manner based on the results of seminars on ethical guidelines and also based on the results of a research ethics comprehension test.


7. Compliance with Laws and Guidelines Concerning Research

Your field of research is subject to certain laws and guidelines prescribed by the Japanese government with regard to ethics and safety. Be sure to familiarize yourself with all applicable laws, regulations, and guidelines thoroughly; and to comply with them throughout the process of your research (see reference list below).


8. Social Research Ethics

(1) When engaging in research involving social or field surveys, be sure that due consideration is paid to obtaining the consent of the informants and the local community regarding the methods and nature of the study, and the publication of the results. Always consider the perspective of the informants and the local community when planning and implementing surveys. When different types of information are collected, explain the purpose of the survey, anticipated usage of the data collected, specific publication methods, the handling of private information, and other concerns to the informants; and obtain their informed consent in advance regardless of the collection method used.

(2) In principle, survey results must be shared with the informants and the local community in some way. Part of the social responsibility of the researcher is to ensure that survey results are published in a just and proper manner, with all due consideration taken to avoid publication that may cause undue damage to the informants and the local community.

(3) The data collected must be used in a fair and just manner. In particular, never fabricate, falsify, alter, or otherwise manipulate research data.

(4) After completion of the study, continue to safeguard the data collected rigorously.

(5) Always have a sincere attitude throughout the process of your research, and act with integrity in all interactions with the informants and the local community.

(6) When conducting surveys in other countries, comply with the local laws. In addition, give all due consideration to local customs, and approach any survey with an attitude of respect for the informants.

(7) Be especially prudent with video/photographic material and other images, as they entail issues pertaining not only to copyrights, but also portrait rights. For example, before using video/photographic material borrowed in a survey, you must obtain the owner’s consent on the usage of the material. Also, if you plan to use videos, photographs, or illustrations created by others, or visual material that has been published elsewhere, you must obtain the consent of the copyright holder and take steps to avoid infringing upon any copyrights and portrait rights. Keep in mind that this requirement also especially applies to the use of material posted on the internet.


9. Appropriate Use of Public Research Funds

(1) Education and research activities at The University of Tokyo are supported by 1) public research funds provided by the Japanese government, independent administrative agencies, or private businesses; 2) grants from incorporated foundations; and/or 3) joint research funds and grants from private businesses. All scientists must be acutely aware of their responsibilities when using public research funds and/or others for purchasing and inspecting materials and equipment, applications for travel expenses to conferences and other meetings to discuss research, personnel expenses (honorariums), and all other such expenses.

(2) Scientists who manage public research funds must heighten the understanding of and strict adherence to all rules and regulations promulgated by the Japanese government and to those established by The University of Tokyo as well.


10. Ethics and Safety in Medical/Biological Research Involving Human Subjects

(1) Due consideration must be given to the safety of human subjects, protection of their human rights, and other ethical matters.

(2) Before engaging in research involving human subjects, you should by all means respect the guidance of the Ethics Committee of The University of Tokyo regarding safety and ethical matters involved your research plan, including matters not specifically covered by laws or guidelines.

(3) When conducting joint research with an institution overseas, you should encourage the members of that institution to follow ethical standards equivalent to those prescribed in Japan. At the same time, however, you need to give consideration to the fact that ethical standards vary by country because they reflect local social, cultural, and religious precepts.


11. Guidance for GSFS Ethical Guidelines for Research and Comprehension Test

(1) To attain thorough understanding of the GSFS Ethical Guidelines for Research and knowledgeof rules regarding ethics, initial and subsequent extensive guidance sessions on the GSFS Ethical Guidelines for Research will be conducted and a comprehension test will be administered covering the extensive guidance session.

(2) Attending both guidance sessions on the GSFS Ethical Guidelines for Research and passing a comprehension test on research ethics are prerequisites for submission of a thesis for a degree.

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