Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)

Founding year

1952

History

Foundation Council and its Executive Committee, Research Council, Research Commissions at Swiss higher education institutions, Administrative Offices (280 employees) and  the International Advisory Board. The Research Council is divided into 4 scientific divisions:

  • Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Mathematics, Natural and Engineering Sciences
  • Biology and Medicine, and
  • Programmes

 

ENRIO member since

2019

Structure

Based on a government mandate, the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) supports scientific research in all academic disciplines, from history to medicine and the engineering sciences. To ensure its independence, the SNSF was established as a private foundation in 1952. Its core task is the evaluation of research proposals. In 2017, it awarded CHF 1037 million to the most promising project proposals. By allocating public research money based on the principle of competition, the SNSF contributes to the high quality of research in Switzerland.
SNSF‘s Commission on Research Integrity was appointed by the Research Council in 2013 to conduct proceedings in cases of suspected research misconduct in the application procedure or in the use of grants of the SNSF. Besides, the Executive Management of the Administrative Offices appointed the Plagiarism Control Group. It is composed of collaborators of the Administrative Offices who specifically check random selections of applications submitted to the SNSF for cases of plagiarism.

Main Tasks

The SNSF promotes scientific research in Switzerland. It promotes the international competitiveness and integration of such research as well as its capacity to solve problems and it pays particular attention to the promotion of junior researchers.

The Commission on Research Integrity has the primary responsibility for cases of alleged research misconduct in the application procedure for SNSF grants. If research misconduct occurs in the use of SNSF grants, the investigation and sanctioning is the primary responsibility of the research institution that employs the researcher. However, if the results of the proceedings conducted by the responsible institution are unsatisfactory with regard to aspects relevant to the SNSF the Commission on Research Integrity is authorised to conduct its own proceedings.

Any one from the public in- and outside Switzerland may report an alleged case of misconduct to the Commission on Research Integrity. Such informers can also report anonymously. The Commission on Research Integrity may handle such anonymous reports if they contain serious allegations. The Commission can also act on its own initiative in that its member delegates can bring forward allegations they discovered through random checks or during the evaluation.

Investigation

The report to the Commission on Research Integrity must be submitted in writing. All involved must commit to strict confidentiality. Informers i.e. persons who report scientific misconduct have no party rights. The procedural parties concerned are (i) applicants (ii) grantees, and (iii) project partners. In examining a case, the Commission on Research Integrity will first determine the factual basis. The president decides – after consulting with the members if needed –

  • whether there are grounds for suspecting research misconduct and initiating an investigation
  • whether an investigation should be postponed until the results of the investigation conducted by the relevant institution are available
  • whether it should opt not to carry out its own proceedings despite grounds for suspicion if the research institution concerned is bringing or has brought proceedings against the suspected party, or
  • whether it should opt not to conduct its own investigation and rely on the results of the investigation conducted by the institution concerned.

 

In investigating, the Commission may obtain information from affected institutions or persons in Switzerland and abroad. It may also request confidential support from internal or external experts. Decisions of the Commission on Research Integrity require a simple majority: in the event of a tie the president has a casting vote. If no research misconduct has occurred, it discontinues the proceedings. If research misconduct has occurred, it submits a report to the Presiding Board of the Research Council, together with a recommendation with regard to

  • the nature and scope of sanctions
  • whether the decision is to be made public, and
  • whether the employer institution is to be informed about the decision.

Training

Training is within the research institutions’ competence.

Promoting Research Integrity

The SNSF sees research integrity as the commitment of each scientist to sound scientific practices. Confidence in the fact that research work is carried out conscientiously is a sine qua non for research funding. The SNSF therefore urges all concerned to maintain a self-critical attitude where adherence to sound scientific practices is concerned.

Contact

Claudia Lautenschütz

Lawyer

Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)
Executive Staff / Legal Department
Wildhainweg 3, P.O. Box, CH-3001 Berne

+41 31 308 21 30