NESH’s charter states, among other things, that the Committee shall draw up guidelines for research ethics in the social sciences, the humanities, law and theology. The first version of the guidelines was published in 1993. This version was revised in 1999. A new edition was published in 2006. The new version contains updated references to relevant legislation. In 2003 the committee made guidelines for Internet Research. These were revised in 2018.
The Committee uses the guidelines actively when giving its opinion on specific research projects. It also happens that researchers, wanting to safeguard ethical considerations in their research projects, ask NESH for an evaluation. Typical questions that NESH has been asked to evaluate include how best to ensure that consent is freely given and whether children can consent by themselves to take part in research projects. The Committee has also been asked to evaluate a number of other research ethical aspects, such as the limits for the protection of sources,the researchers’ duty of confidentiality and the duty to inform about planned criminal acts.
In addition to giving advice in individual cases, external activities such as the organisation of seminars on research ethical issues are an important part of NESH’s work.