Welcome at the website of the ITC Ethics Committee. This committee is in place since October 2017.


Prof. Dr. Ir. A. Stein (chair)
Drs. M.T. Koelen (secretary)
Prof. Dr. P. Y. Georgiadou
Dr. Ir. R.A. de By
V. Kokorev (Ph.D. candidate)
Dr. M.H. Nagenborg (BMS)
The Committee members meet 4-5 times a year.


Geoethics consists of research and reflection on the values that underpin appropriate behavior and practice, wherever human activities interact with the geosphere. It addresses the ethical, social and cultural implications of Earth Sciences education, research and practice, providing a point of intersection for Geosciences, Sociology, Philosophy, and Economy. It further represents an opportunity for Geoscientists to become more conscious of their social role and responsibilities in conducting their activity. Finally, geoethics influence the awareness of society regarding problems related to geo-resources and to the earth's resources and environment.


Like in other domains of science, the faculty of ITC has expressed the need to develop an ethics code, based upon general ethical aspects, specific aspects of its scientific domain, its mission and the international dimension of its research. In March 2016, a workshop was organized that addressed several aspects of geoethics. This workshop served as the basis for the points of departure of this document and the Ethics Committee.


The Faculty Board has established an Ethics Committee. Its task is to assure the quality of the ethical review process by establishing quality assurance procedures. In order to do so, it employs the following activities:
a.  It reviews research proposals in the domain of Geo-Information Science, according to and falling within the scope of the Research Ethics Policy of the University of Twente. This includes the self-assessment and provision of information to researchers regarding the review procedure.
b.  It keeps records of the reviews and archive the reviews according to legal provisions and applicable policies of the University of Twente
c.  It informs periodically the Faculty Board of the researcher, or in case of multiple researchers: the Faculty Board of the leading researcher, about the advice of the committee.
From: Faculty  Regulations of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation Article 10f 


All the research conducted at the ITC or by ITC Staff can be approved by the Ethics Committee. The Committee is developing a procedure for this to make this process as efficiënt as possible.

Informed Consent Forms

Download the form here

Background Information

Codes of Conduct University of Twente:

Other codes of Conduct of importance:

The new version of the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity was published in september 2018.  The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), Netherlands Federation of University Medical Centres (NFU), Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), Associated Applied Research Institutes (TO2), Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences (VH), and the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) worked together intensively to thoroughly amend and expand the Code of Conduct that has been in use since 2004. The Code of Conduct will enter into force on 1 October 2018. Committee chair Prof. Keimpe Algra says, “Research integrity is essential if research is to be conducted properly. This new Code of Conduct ensures that the Netherlands keeps up with international developments regarding research integrity. This new Code of Conduct describes clear standards that researchers in many research organizations can apply to their daily practices”.

"A growing number of government agencies, funding organizations, and publishers are endorsing the call for increased data sharing, especially in biomedical research, many with an ultimate goal of open data. Open data is among the least restrictive forms of data sharing, in contrast to managed access mechanisms, which typically have terms of use and in some cases oversight by the data generators themselves. But despite an ethically sound rationale and growing support for open data sharing in many parts of the world, concerns remain, particularly among researchers in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) in Africa, Latin America, and parts of Asia and the Middle East that comprise the Global South. Drawing on our perspective as researchers and ethicists working in the Global South, we see opportunities to improve community engagement, raise awareness, and build capacity, all toward improving research and data sharing involving researchers in LMICs". Full article

The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity; revised edition 2017  The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity  serves the European research community as a framework for self-regulation across all scientific and scholarly disciplines and for all research settings. The 2017 revised edition of the Code addresses emerging challenges emanating from technological developments, open science, citizen science and social media, among other areas. The European Commission recognises the Code as the reference document for research integrity for all EU-funded research projects and as a model for organisations and researchers across Europe. The Code was published originally in English on 24 March 2017 and was translated to all official EU languages by the European Commission’s Translational Services and with the support of ALLEA Member Academies.  

Ethics Reviewers Researchers Like You; Ethics Features in H2020 Ethics Reviewers Researchers Like You. Presentation by Robert Gianni

The San Code of Research Ethics.   South African San Institute 2017     

SATORI aims to develop a common European framework for ethical assessment of research and innovation  http://satoriproject.eu

The International Association for Promoting Geoethics (IAPG) promotes geoethics through the international collaboration with Associations and Institutions. IAPG is a multidisciplinary, scientific platform for widening the discussion and creating awareness about problems of Ethics applied to the Geosciences.


GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) effective from 25 May 2018:
The general data protection regulation (GDPR) awareness coalition is a not-for-profit, fixed-term initiative run by volunteer ambassadors, designed to assist in raising awareness of the data privacy obligations for companies resulting from current legislation as well as the more onerous obligations which will result from the implementation of the GDPR on 25th May 2018.
Official Law text:
Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation)  Full text
How to Treat Personal Data in Research
A Researcher's Privacy Reference Card GDPR; Why?
A Researcher's Privacy Reference Card GDPR; What?
Ten simple ways to improve worldwide privacy protection

Tips GDPR:

Can we use YouTube service aid in the  transcription of voice records? Is this GDPR compliant?  Yes, this is possible in case you have a UT Google account; you cannot use this service with your own (private) Google account.

Processor agreement

When you work with an external party (processor) that helps you processing research data, you may need a processor agreement in case the research data is identifiable to individual persons (also the case if data is coded/pseudonymized). Please contact Marga Koelen or Simon Engelberts  to discuss this.


All questions related to ethical aspects of research or the scope of this committee can be adressed to: ec-itc@utwente.nl

Brief Document on Research Ethics for Research Staff:

Synopsis of Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity
The Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) recently published its Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity
In the below summary, we quote from that report’s Preamble and its chapter on Principles.  We also provide a small clarification for junior researchers.
“In the words of the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity (revised version, 2017), (ALLEA, 2017) research is ‘the quest for knowledge obtained through systematic study and thinking, observation and experimentation’. Although disciplines may differ in approach and method, they share a motivation to increase and to spread our understanding of ourselves and the world in which we live. In our modern knowledge society, scientific and scholarly research has thereby acquired an indispensable role. In providing knowledge and understanding of all aspects of reality, science and scholarship also provide the building blocks for political decision-making and the stimulus for societal development and economic growth. Increasingly, the sciences and the humanities are subject to more, and better articulated, demands on the part of politics and society.
If scientific and scholarly research is to perform this role properly, research integrity is essential. This holds true for all disciplines.
Research in the sciences and the humanities derives its status from the fact that it is a process governed by standards. That normativity is partly methodological and partly ethical in nature, and can be expressed in terms of a number of guiding principles: honesty, scrupulousness, transparency, independence and responsibility. Researchers who are not guided by these principles risk harming both the quality and the trustworthiness of research. This can take the form of direct damage, for example to the environment or to patients, and can undermine public trust in scientific and scholarly research as well as mutual trust between individual researchers. It is therefore vital that the principles of research integrity and the ensuing guidelines for good research practices be defined with the greatest possible clarity and be acknowledged and applied as widely as possible.

1. Honesty
Honesty means, among other things, reporting the research process accurately, taking alternative opinions and counterarguments seriously, being open about margins of uncertainty, refraining from making unfounded claims, refraining from fabricating or falsifying data or sources and refraining from presenting results more favourably or unfavourably than they actually are.

2. Scrupulousness
Scrupulousness means, among other things, using methods that are scientific or scholarly and exercising the best possible care in designing, undertaking, reporting and disseminating research

3. Transparency
Transparency means, among other things, ensuring that it is clear to others what data the research was based on, how the data were obtained, what and how results were achieved and what role was played by external stakeholders. If parts of the research or data are not to be made public, the researcher must provide a good account of why this is not possible. It must be evident, at least to peers, how the research was conducted and what the various phases of the research process were. At the very least, this means that the line of reasoning must be clear and that the steps in the research process must be verifiable.

4. Independence
Independence means, among other things, not allowing the choice of method, the assessment of data, the weight attributed to alternative statements or the assessment of others’ research or research proposals to be guided by non-scientific or non-scholarly considerations (e.g., those of a commercial or political nature). In this sense, independence also includes impartiality. Independence is required at all times in the design, conduct and reporting of research, although not necessarily in the choice of research topic and research question.

5. Responsibility
Responsibility means, among other things, acknowledging the fact that a researcher does not operate in isolation and hence taking into consideration – within reasonable limits – the legitimate interests of human and animal test subjects, as well as those of commissioning parties, funding bodies and the environment. Responsibility also means conducting research that is scientifically and/or societally relevant. “ (VSNU, 2018)

Above information applies to every researcher; also MSc students who could be considered as junior researchers and they might need a bit more clarification on the above conduct.

Clarification for junior researchers
For many students, the MSc thesis work is the first project in which they conduct research independently.  The project proposal often shapes around a working hypothesis that the student will aim to test, and then accept or refute.  Typically, the hypothesis has intuitive merit and one may expect it to be accepted, perhaps under conditions.  Intuition, however, is not infallible, and thus refutation of the hypothesis should never be ruled out.  It helps to try find evidence against the hypothesis.  The thesis hypothesis is sometimes interpreted by junior researchers as a research contract condition to deliver on, and then a refuted hypothesis may look like a failed research project.  But this is a misconception.
A good MSc research project turns things inside out, aims to find every possible argument, and will look at all evidence in favour and against.  An Msc thesis presents such evidence in a balanced way and describes and discusses the methods that produced the evidence.  In ITC context, this, amongst others, means that one describes the data selection process transparently: which data was selected (and why), and which data was not selected (and why not).  The same holds for the choice of methods, and the student needs to provide convincing arguments that there is no bias in these choices.
Non-scientific and non-scholarly considerations may be in play in applied research projects, which often address problems that exist in real life.  There is additional risk for these when the student collaborates with third parties such as companies or (non-)governmental organizations, which may have the aim to have science support their views. The responsibility for the student then is to remain impartial, and develop factual arguments and results that are scientifically robust.

For more information see the following webpages:


ALLEA. (2017). The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity. Revised edition. 1–20. https://doi.org/10.1037/e648332011-002
VSNU. (2018). Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.17026/dans-2cj-nvwu


1 “An introduction into Intellectual Property (IP) issues in Public Private Partnerships”

Date: June 12th 2019
Guest speakers: 
dr. ir. Peter van Dongen and dr.ir. Roy Kolkman

2 Space for Ethics

Lecture and Workshop March 21st, 2018
Slides are available here
The oral presentation is available here

Any scientist sooner or later finds her-/himself in a situation that presents an ethical dilemma.  A choice may need to be made on the basis of moral values, and no outcome may be obviously preferable above the other(s).  How does the scientist address this, what constitutes proper professional conduct, and which ethical code should we follow?  In this lecture and workshop, we aim to discuss these matters specifically in the context of geo-information science.
Much of the research effort undertaken at ITC takes place in a context of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.  We work with, for and around the most vulnerable people, animals, and ecosystems, and our work aims to have an impact.  Accidents may happen, and research effort that has been carelessly thought up and executed may have serious consequences.  We have responsibilities.
For instance, studies of endangered species such as some parrot species may lead to the publication of locations of sighting or even nesting, to the publication of sound recordings or to disclosure of trapping techniques.  While “methods used” need to be published, details in such may equip poachers with powerful operational mechanisms to trap birds illegally.
In the lecture and workshop, professor Philip Brey, professor of philosophy of technology at the Department of Philosophy, University of Twente, will first give a lecture that will help us get a grip on these dilemmas, help us to think them through, and dissect them systematically.  We will next split up into groups and work on one of a few prepared, concrete dilemma cases.  The workshop wraps up with a presentation from some of the groups on their findings.  

interesting articles

San people of Africa draft code of ethics for researchers . By Linda Nordling    Mar. 17, 2017 , 3:30 PM .   Researchers have eagerly studied Africa’s San people, some of whom are shown here foraging in a grassland. Now, the San have drawn up a code of ethics to govern scientists’ interactions with them.  https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/03/san-people-africa-draft-code-ethics-researchers

An interesting article on open data sharing: Open data sharing and the Global South - Who benefits?

A Geoprivacy by Design Guideline for Research Campaigns That Use Participatory Sensing Data. Ourania Kounadi and Bernd Resch Journal of Empirical Research of Human Research Ethics 2018/04/23 

Whitepaper: Practical challenges for researchers in data sharing / by David Stuart Grace etc. In one of the largest surveys of researchers about research data (with over 7,700 respondents), Springer Nature finds widespread data sharing associated with published works and a desire from researchers that their data are discoverable. This whitepaper examines the results of this survey and discusses the challenges that researchers face in sharing their data. The whitepaper looks at data sharing attitudes globally, as well as in relation to region, subject and seniority. Full article

Evaluation of Research Careers fully acknowledging open science practices; reards, incentives and/or recognition for researchers racticing Open Science.  Open Science represents an approach to research that is collaborative, transparent and accessible5. There are a wide range of activities that come under the umbrella of Open Science that include open access publishing, open data, open peer review and open research. It also includes citizen science, or more broadly, stakeholder engagement, where non specialists engage directly in research. Open Science goes hand in hand with research integrity and requires legal and ethical awareness on the part of researchers. A driver for Open Science is improving the transparency and validity of research as well as in regards to public ownership of science, particularly that which is publicly funded.  Researchers across Europe already practise Open Science to some extent through, for example, open access to their publications. Some already provide open data, engage in open peer review, and stakeholder engagement or citizen science. Researchers advance in their career through assessment and this is the key factor to ensure that Open Science becomes mainstream. The exclusive use of bibliometric parameters as proxies for excellence in assessment by most funding agencies and universities/research organisations does not facilitate Open Science. Researchers’ engagement in Open Science will increase through encouragement and incentives from employers and funders through assessment. Full report