Country Report Norway

National Research Integrity Landscape

In 1990, three National Research Ethics Committees were established by the Norwegian Parliament: for Medical and Health Research (NEM), Science and Technology (NENT) and Social Sciences and the Humanities (NESH), respectively. Their mission, given by the Ministry of Research and Education, included the prevention of research misconduct.

According to the Research Ethics Act (2017), the main responsibility for conducting good and responsible research lies with the researchers and the research institutions. The research institutions are responsible for providing training in recognised norms of research ethics and to handle cases concerning possible breaches of these norms. The Act replaces the previous act (2007) in providing a legal mandate for the committees, and, in more detail, for the National Commission for the Investigation of Research Misconduct.

National Commission for the Investigation of Research Misconduct (National Commission)

The National Commission is part of NREC. NREC is an administrative body related to the Ministry of Education and Research, however, it operates independently of the Ministry and its professional independence is stated by the Research Ethics Act.

The Research Ethics Act places the primary responsibility for handling research misconduct cases on research institutions, imposing them to have procedures for dealing with breaches of research ethical norms and to establish research ethics / research integrity committees. The National Commission is primarily a guiding resource for research institutions. However, it is also an appeal body, and can decide to handle cases on its own initiative.

Assessment framework

The National Commission (and the three National Research Ethics Committees) are governed by the Research Ethics Act (2017). Another central legal framework in Norway is The Health Research Act.   

Missions and tasks

The National Commission’s main tasks are:

(1) advising research institutions on the handling of misconduct cases; and

(2) processing individual misconduct cases, in first or second instance.

Its members and the secretariat give lectures, arrange seminars, and visit the research institutions. Additionally, the National Commission cooperates with the National Research Ethics Committees on a wide array of activities related to promoting research integrity.


The National Commission is an advisory governmental body with no sanctioning powers.


The National Commission consists of 8 members with voting rights and 3 substitutes. The members cover relevant research disciplines. All members are appointed by the Ministry of Education and Research based on propositions from the Norwegian Research Council. Each period of appointment lasts for 4 years, and each member can be re-appointed once, serving a maximum of 8 years.  At least one of the members should be from abroad. The Chair of the National Commission must have a judicial background. The National Commission has administrative support by the secretariat of the National Research Ethics Committees.

Scope and remit

The Research Ethics Act states that the research institutions are obliged to handle all cases of alleged breaches of research ethics norms.

The National Commission functions as a body of appeal in cases where a research institution has concluded that a researcher has committed research misconduct. Only the accused researcher may file an appeal. Thus, the National Commission’s scope as a body of appeal is limited.

Apart from being a body of appeal, the National Commission may investigate cases on its own initiative.

It is authorized to deal with research carried out by Norwegian public and private research institutions. Moreover, it can investigate cases abroad if the research has been carried out by researchers employed by a Norwegian institution or if a substantial part of the funding stems from Norway.

Cases of students’ misconduct (bachelor- or master level) fall outside the scope of the Research Ethics Act and are not handled by the National Commission.


Investigations by the National Commission must follow the rules of the Public Administration Act, e.g. the right of the parties to acquaint themselves with the documents in the case and to give oral statements. Further, the National Commission must handle the cases without undue delay.

The National Commission reaches decisions at meetings by majority voting.

All cases investigated by the National Commission will lead to a concluding statement including the following: i) whether scientific misconduct has occurred or not, ii) possible system errors/critique of the system and iii) on the possible retraction of publications.

The National Commission will handle the case confidentially and will exclude it from public access until the concluding statement has been issued. Then all documents are, as a main rule, made available to the public according to the Freedom of Information Act.

Definition of scientific misconduct

The Research Ethics Act has a broad definition of scientific misconduct:

“Scientific misconduct means falsification, fabrication, plagiarism and other serious breaches of recognised norms of research ethics, which have been committed intentionally or with gross negligence in the planning, execution or reporting of research.” [non-official translation]

The guidelines of the Norwegian National Research Ethics Committees are regarded as recognised norms, together with other national and international guidelines.

Less serious breaches of these norms are referred to in the law as plain “misconduct” as opposed to “scientific misconduct”.

(Second) opinions and appeal

In handling cases, the National Commission must give an opinion on whether the subject of the complaint either is or is not, guilty of scientific misconduct. The National Commission’s statements must be delivered in writing together with the reason for reaching the decision. Its statement is also forwarded to the institution where the person in question is employed. The National Commission’s statements are legally binding and cannot be appealed.

Follow-up and monitoring

Research institutions are obliged by the law to inform the National Commission about their handling of cases concerning possible serious breaches of research misconduct. The National Commission may also decide to initiate its own investigation. It is the research institutions that have the power to sanction their researchers and monitor the measures taken against them.


As a main rule, all the documents handled and produced in the cases are made available to the public according to the Freedom of Information Act. In addition, the National Commission is obliged by law to publish an Annual Report of its activities. The Annual Report is available on the website


For further information, see:
For questions, send an e-mail to: Ragnhild Aursnes Dammen, Director of the National Commission for the Investigation of Research Misconduct (


Last update: May 2024