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Ethical guidelines for supervision relationships at UiO

Adopted by the university board 20 October 2020. 

The University of Oslo (UiO) shall provide students and PhD candidates with high-quality guidance. The guidelines apply to all levels of education, from bachelor's degrees to PhDs, and use "candidate" as a common term for everyone who receives guidance.

The responsible entity (faculty, department, centre or museum) shall quality assure the guidance through the training and awareness-raising of supervisors.

The individual supervisor shall carry out the guidance in accordance with the framework set by the responsible entity. The supervisors have a particular responsibility to familiarise the candidates with the regulations and guidelines that apply to the candidate's work.

The working and learning environment at UiO shall be safe and inclusive. Harassment, racism and discrimination shall not occur. The university's guidelines against harassment applies to all supervisors, students and PhD candidates in all academic and social situations.

I. The relationship between the supervisor and the candidate

A good guidance relationship means that the supervisor and the candidate have mutual respect for each other's academic and personal integrity. Among other things, this means that:

  • The supervisor must be aware of the asymmetric power ratios that exist in the guidance relationship. Academic knowledge and authority shall not be exploited to win academic or personal benefits.
  • The supervisor and the candidate must be prepared, meet on time and avoid disturbances during the guidance session.
  • The supervisor and the candidate must not make comments or behave in ways that violate UiO's guidelines against harassment.
  • The supervisor and the candidate both have a responsibility to contribute to a factual dialogue.
  • The supervisor and the candidate must exercise caution when discussing colleagues and fellow students.
  • Confidential information that emerges during the guidance session must not be disclosed to outsiders.
  • The supervisor must not use the guidance session to address his own academic or personal challenges unless it has an impact on the candidate's work/training.
  • If the supervisor sees that the candidate needs help due to personal challenges, the supervisor should encourage the candidate to seek out appropriate providers of assistance. This may, for example, include the candidate's GP, SiO Health and Counselling, UiO's occupational health service [in Norwegian only] or similar provider.

II. Impartiality

The supervisor must ensure that he/she maintains a professional distance from the candidate and has a special responsibility not to initiate relationships that put the candidate in a vulnerable situation.

The impartiality rules in the Public Administration Act also apply to guidance relationships. For example, the supervisor and the candidate cannot be close family, have a sexual relationship, or have a close personal connection to each other that may disqualify the supervisor.

If a candidate has several supervisors, the rules of the Public Administration Act normally also apply between the supervisors. The faculty may make exceptions following a special assessment.

The supervisor shall not receive gifts or fees for guidance beyond what is agreed with the responsible entity.

The supervisor and the candidate shall be open about other matters that may affect the guidance and contribute to how they are handled.

III. The supervisor's and candidate's obligations

The guidance situation means that the supervisor and the candidate have different obligations to each other, and both must contribute to the good functioning of the guidance relationship.  Among other things, this means that:

The supervisor

  • shall keep up to date with the framework and guidelines for the guidance.
  • shall be a good research ethics role model and communicate requirements for academic honesty.
  • shall help integrate the candidate into the work or learning environment in a sound manner.
  • shall familiarise themselves with the candidate's project, including helping to identify research ethics issues.
  • shall ensure that necessary approvals are in place before starting and, if necessary, during the project.
  • shall ensure that the storage, use and publication of data and personal data as well as the termination of the project is carried out in accordance with the regulations.
  • shall familiarise the candidates with relevant regulations and guidelines for the candidate's work, adapted to the candidate's level.

The candidate

  • shall receive and actively participate in academic guidance.
  • shall follow the current research ethics principles.
  • shall store data and personal data in accordance with the regulations.
  • shall contribute constructively to a good guidance relationship.

Main supervisor and co-supervisor

  • The supervisors shall behave respectfully towards each other.
  • The main supervisor has the primary responsibility for the academic follow-up of the candidate. The co-supervisor shall provide academic guidance and share the academic responsibility for the candidate with the main supervisor.
  • It shall be agreed which of the supervisors is responsible for contact with the responsible entity.

IV. Disagreement and prevention of conflicts

Both the supervisor and the candidate shall strive to act so that disagreements do not escalate and that conflicts do not arise between them.

If the candidate or supervisor finds that the relationship works poorly, they may individually or together involve a third party to find a solution:

  • Students can contact the entity responsible for the course/assignment.
  • PhD candidates employed by UiO can contact their immediate supervisor. If it is difficult to go to the immediate supervisor, they may instead involve a safety representative or an employee representative.
  • PhD candidates who are not employed by UiO can contact the responsible entity.
  • Students and PhD candidates can also contact the Student Ombud or the Science Ombud.
  • Supervisors can contact their immediate supervisor or the person responsible for the programme.

If the candidate or supervisor finds it difficult to continue the guidance relationship, it is possible to change supervisors. The candidate and the supervisor can individually or together apply for a change of supervisor. Changes to the supervisory relationship can also be initiated by the responsible entity.

Anyone who experiences reprehensible circumstances or behaviour at UiO can speak up. Students and PhD candidates who are not employed by UiO can use the Speak Up (Si fra) system. Supervisors and PhD candidates who are employed by UiO can use the reporting channel for employees.

Published Oct. 29, 2020 10:35 AM - Last modified Nov. 3, 2020 1:03 PM