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Ombuds Office

Academic integrity and ethics

Academic integrity serves to protect intellectual achievements by copyright and it affects all of us. It is the touchstone when it comes to assessing the quality of academic work. Academic integrity is thus a prerequisite for all work in our degree courses (seminar papers, presentations, etc.), for final theses (BA and MA) and for research projects, in particular where data is concerned.

Academic misconduct

Academic misconduct occurs more frequently than one might think, for example through inadequate or withheld references to literature and research results that have already been published. In an anonymous survey, up to 33% of all researchers said that they used questionable research practices. These included not only conscious falsification, but also incorrect quotations and citation methods and false information on sources.

According to a Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences publication, academic or scientific misconduct consists of deliberate or negligent deception or damage to the academic or scientific community and to society. Negligence is considered to be behaviour which breaches the duty of care or due diligence that is generally or technically recognised. Incitement and tolerated joint knowledge are also considered to be misconduct. (See: Akademien der Wissenschaften Schweiz (Hrsg.) (2008): Wissenschaftliche Integrität. Grundsätze und Verfahrensregeln. Page 19.)

Key indicators regarding academic integrity


If you are unsure of whether something constitutes plagiarism, you may consult the documents available at the Ombuds Office, or you may have a direct and confidential consultation at the Ombuds Office.

Ethics in teaching and research

Working with authentic, empirical or experiment- based data is a prerequisite for new findings in research. Data is also used and sometimes collected in teaching. Ethical principles must be observed here.

Data acquisition in empirical research

Since the Federal Act on Research involving Human Beings (Human Research Act HRA) came into force on 01.01.2014, stricter regulations have applied to the acquisition of data related to human beings. In the case of language recording, it must particularly be noted that this must be completely anonymised. This means that information on names, gender, age, profession, etc. of participants may not be listed. An anonymised survey may only include abbreviations and information organised as codes, but not information that would make it possible to trace the identity of the person involved.

Ethics Commission

All data acquisition, such as in surveys, interviews, recorded conversations, etc., in which data related to persons is collected, must be cleared by the Ethics Commission as regards its appropriateness.

The Cantonal Ethics Commission of Zurich (KEK) is responsible for all research carried out under the auspices of the ZHAW. Our Ombuds Office provides information for the School of Applied Linguistics.