One Stop Shop Data Protection & Ethics

Every year, a large number of research projects are carried out at the UZH. Some of these projects trigger data protection and ethical issues. Therefore, each research project must be checked to see whether it complies with numerous national and often international requirements (e.g. EU data protection regulations for ERC grants). 

At present, researchers are required to have such projects reviewed by the Legal Services and Data Protection Division as well as by the ethics committees of each faculty (or the Cantonal Ethics Committee CEC). This requires precise documentation of the projects and a case-by-case review by the staff of the Legal Services of the UZH as well as the ethics committees. 

In order to minimize the time and effort required for researchers and support units to review research projects in the future and to make the review process more efficient, the Digital Society Initiative, together with the Legal Services and Data Protection Division, is developing an online tool that automates this review and, for simpler cases, offers a self-evaluations that the researcher can carry out independently. 

On the one hand, the proposed tool should be used when designing a research project in order to identify and eliminate possible weaknesses in the procedure/structure of experiments or empirical data collection. On the other hand, the proposed tool will generate a report for the researchers, which documents how the relevant data protection and ethical aspects are dealt with and how the necessary requirements in the specific case are or can be met. If there are still deficiencies in the project, these are also reported and the researchers are referred to the responsible departments or ethics committees, which will then carry out individual assessments. The tool and documentation provided by the tool will allow researcher to prove compliance with data protection laws and provide them with an appropriate proof of compliance with existing regulation (which can be sent to editors of a journal when required to do so).

A beta version of the tool is scheduled to be available online in spring 2020, which researchers can use for testing purposes and also comment on. The final version will then be optimized in terms of user-friendliness and integrated into the UZH's service offering.

Involved Researchers and Project Partners

  • Dr. Markus Christen (UZH)
  • Dr. Aurelia Tamò-Larrieux (UZH)
  • Dr. Michele Loi (UZH)