iRECS – improving Research Ethics Expertise and Competences to Ensure Reliability and Trust in Science

  • Project team:

    Maia, Maria João (Project leader); Christopher Coenen, Miltos Ladikas, Martina Baumann (2022-2023), Julia Hahn, Kai Soedibjo (2022-2023)

  • Funding:

    European Commission (Horizon Europe)

  • Start date:


  • End date:


  • Project partners:

    University of Bonn, University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), Amsterdam UMC representing the Embassy of Good Science, University of Split School of Medicine (MEFST), European Network of Research Ethics Committees (EUREC) representing ENERI, Vilnius University (VU), Maastricht University (UM), National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), De Montfort University (DMU), European University Association (EUA), Fudan University / Ethics Committee Shanghai Clinical Research Centre (FDU), Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), European Association of Research Managers and Administrators (EARMA), Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Radboud University, Nijmegen (RU), Trilateral Research Limited (TRI IE)

  • Research group:

    Life, Innovation, Health, and Technology

Project description

Research ethics is facing increasing challenges at a global level: New and emerging technologies present challenges to ethics reviewers who may be unskilled in the relevant fields; increased internationalization of research has led to fears of ethics dumping; and there is a lack of standardization across Europe and the world. A key objective of national and EU research policy is to ensure compliance with the highest standards of research ethics. Given the impact of research on society in terms of the potential to generate innovative solutions to problems, but also the associated risk of harm, rigorous ethical research conduct is essential to ensure public trust in the scientific endeavor.

iRECS will address these problems in four steps:

  1. Investigating and mapping the existing needs of European and global research ethics communities raised by new and emerging technologies.
  2. Producing and implementing training materials for European and global audiences in research ethics communities.
  3. Implementing and permanently establishing training programs.
  4. Developing proposals for adapting the research ethics process in Europe.

Through a unique blend of expertise, global partners, and the involvement of European research ethics networks as partners or members of the Stakeholder Advisory Board, iRECS will develop a fresh awareness of research ethics and sustainable, multi-purpose, multi-language, and interactive training programs for different users. The project thus extends the European Network of Research Ethics and Research Integrity (ENERI) and the Embassy of Good Science initiative into a horizontal community of research ethics practitioners, policy makers, and other key stakeholders.

In iRECS, ITAS will be leading the stakeholder engagement activities. Ongoing stakeholder engagement will be particularly valuable to strengthen the science-society nexus, which is crucial for ethical research and proper governance structures. Based on these activities, recommendations on the inclusion and participation of stakeholders in research ethics review processes will be published.

Among other tasks, such as collaboration in the development of training materials for research ethics experts, (junior) researchers, and students, ITAS will also be the lead partner for the development of recommendations for addressing ethical challenges in technology research outside the EU. For this, the institute will identify ethical challenges in global technology research. The focus will be on differences in value systems and decision-making processes, with the aim of avoiding ethics dumping. Findings from the TRUST and GEST projects as well as insights from global technology assessment and non-EU partners will serve as a basis.

Project website:


Dr. Maria João Maia
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe

Tel.: +49 721 608-22249