Docent A felt that interviews conducted in a project in the field of humanities had been carried out in part in a manner that might cause emotional harm to the research subjects.
They had been a researcher in the project themselves. According to A, the interview design and the questionnaire used in the interviews should have been subjected to ethical review. They had discussed the matter with the director in charge of the project in the research planning phase, but the director had refused to subject the research to ethical review. When the university initiated the preliminary inquiry in the matter, professor B had, according to docent A, misled the conductor of the preliminary inquiry by submitting a modified questionnaire to the inquiry.
The preliminary inquiry conducted in the university observed the different questionnaires but determined that there were only minor differences between the two versions, typical for the field in both versions, and that they did not affect the result of the preliminary inquiry. According to the preliminary inquiry, ethical review would also not have been necessary because of the study design.
Based on the materials submitted to TENK, it was, however, still unclear how the research subjects were informed when the interview was conducted, and how the research was conducted. It was possible that the principle of informed consent was not realised in the research and that the study design should have been subjected to ethical review. TENK therefore declared that the university should conduct an investigation proper to determine whether an ethical review should have been performed for the research project before the collection of materials and, if this is found to be the case, whether this is a case of an RCR violation. Also the questionnaire version used in the study should be determined and whether the characteristics of an RCR violation were met in this regard.