Country Report Estonia

National Research Integrity Landscape

The Estonian Code of Conduct for Research Integrity was adopted in 2017 and all the evaluated research institutions, including universities, signed the commitment to follow its principles. In 2022, all the remaining higher education institutions signed a similar commitment. Cases of research misconduct are handled by universities and research institutions. The largest universities have adopted their internal procedures and have created specific commissions for handling research misconduct cases. It is not clear how the other institutions deal with their cases.

There is currently no national structure for research integrity.

Inititiatives for the establishment of a national structure for research integrity

Estonian Research Council (ETAG), the main research funding organisation in Estonia, has been actively involved with research integrity since 2014. As from 2014, ETAG represents Estonia in ENRIO. In 2016, ETAG initiated the creation of a document of research integrity by forming a working group that included representatives from the Estonian Research Council, the Estonian Academy, and the Ministry of Education and Research. It entrusted the drafting of the text to the working group of the Centre for Ethics at the University of Tartu, which had earlier already started writing the research integrity document for the University of Tartu, combining the two initiatives. In 2017, both working groups finalised the Estonian Code of Conduct for Research Integrity organizing national consultation rounds. According to the preface of the Code, it is meant to complement the Code of Ethics of Estonian Scientists of 2002 and is needed because of developments in research that brought forth new themes and perspectives not reflected in the code of ethics. The main examples used for the Estonian Code of Conduct for Research Integrity were the Danish Code of Conduct for Research Integrity (2014) and the (2017 revised) European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity.

In November 2017, the Centre for Ethics of the University of Tartu in cooperation with the European Commission, the Ministry of Education and Research, and the Estonian Research Council organized an international symposium in Tallinn. At the seminar of the Forum of National Ethics Councils, 23 signatories joined the Estonian Code of Conduct for Research Integrity Agreement, including private and public research institutions, universities, (institutions of) the Estonian Academy of Sciences, the Estonian Research Council and the Ministry of Education and Research. By signing, the signatories confirmed that they follow the principles of the code. One section of the code requires research institutions to create clear guidelines and procedures for dealing with misconduct cases.

In 2018, Estonia participated in the Mutual Learning Exercise (MLE) on Research Integrity. This program was initiated by the European Commission in which 14 countries exchange good scientific practices to learn from one another. Estonia got new ideas for the establishment of a systemic structure for research integrity.

In 2019, ETAG funded a study to analyse the state of research integrity and ethics in Estonia and to provide policy-advice for creating a national research integrity system. The report suggested that more coordination is needed on the national level and that ETAG would be suitable for taking the coordinating role. In 2019, Medical Research Ethics Committee of Tallinn ceased its activities due to budgetary and workload issues. Since then, ETAG has been actively involved also with research ethics.

In 2020, the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research created a working group with the aim of proposing a national system for dealing with research ethics and integrity issues in all fields of research. The suggestions of the working group were used for drafting the new version of the Organisation of Research and Development Act. The draft foresaw the creation of a National Ethics Committee and a National Commission for Research Misconduct.

Latest development(s)

Since 2021 the discussions and various versions of the national research integrity and ethics framework has been discussed on different levels – in parliament, between ministries, research institutions, the Estonian Academy of Science, researchers, and other stakeholders. A newer version of the draft is being prepared as of spring 2024.


For questions, send an e-mail to: Marten Juurik (ETAG) –

Last update: April 2024