Legal and ethical frameworks, usage rights

Researchers adopt a responsible approach to the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of research. They comply with rights and obligations, particularly those arising from legal requirements and contracts with third parties, and where necessary seek approvals and ethics statements and present these when required. With regard to research projects, the potential consequences of the research should be evaluated in detail and the ethical aspects should be assessed. The legal framework of a research project includes documented agreements on usage rights relating to data and results generated by the project.


Researchers maintain a continual awareness of the risks associated with the misuse of research results. Their responsibility is not limited to compliance with legal requirements but also includes an obligation to use their knowledge, experience and skills such that risks can be recognised, assessed and evaluated. They pay particular attention to the aspects associated with security-relevant research (dual use). HEIs and non-HEI research institutions are responsible for ensuring that their members’ and employees’ actions comply with regulations and promote this through suitable organisational structures. They develop binding ethical guidance and policies and define procedures to assess ethical issues relating to research projects.

Where possible and practicable, researchers conclude documented agreements on usage rights at the earliest possible point in a research project. Documented agreements are especially useful when multiple academic and/or non-academic institutions are involved in a research project or when it is likely that a researcher will move to a different institution and continue using the data he or she generated for his or her own research purposes. In particular, the researcher who collected the data is entitled to use them. During a research project, those entitled to use the data decide whether third parties should have access to them (subject to data protection regulations).

Comments - Humanities and social sciences (2)

Ethical aspects of research in the humanities and social sciences

23.08.2021 – The aim of addressing ethical considerations is the conscious reflection on the responsibility of science and the humanities in the research process, to weigh up potential risks caused by research to individuals, society, animals, cultural assets and the ...

Comment on: Professional ethics (Humanities and social sciences) , Organisational responsibility of heads of research institutions (Humanities and social sciences) , Legal and ethical frameworks, usage rights (Humanities and social sciences)

Handling research data in the humanities and social sciences

03.12.2020 – Research data in humanities and social science projects are as diverse as the wide range of subjects and methods and form an integral part of the research results. A conscious approach to the documentation, maintenance, archiving and provision of data for ...

Comment on: Dimensions of performance and assessment criteria (Humanities and social sciences) , Cross-phase quality assurance (Humanities and social sciences) , Legal and ethical frameworks, usage rights (Humanities and social sciences) , Documentation (Humanities and social sciences) , Providing public access to research results (Humanities and social sciences) , Archiving (Humanities and social sciences)