Charter for Research

The Nicotine Science Center's Charter for Research is a set of general principles and requirements  specifying the roles, responsibilities and entitlements of researchers and their employers, funders, partners and/or the Nicotine Science Center acting as funder and/or partner of researchers. The aim of the Charter is to ensure that the nature of the relationship between researchers and employers or funders and partners is conducive to successful performance in generating, transferring, sharing and disseminating knowledge and technological development. 

In this sense, the Charter constitutes a framework for researchers, employers and funders/partners that invites them to act responsibly and as professionals within their working environment, and to recognize each other as such.

The Charter addresses all researchers working on research projects funded by and/or in cooperation with the Nicotine Science Center. It takes into account the multiple roles of researchers, who are appointed not only to conduct research and/or to carry out development activities, but who are also involved in supervision, mentoring, management or administrative tasks.

It is the premise of this Charter  that researchers as well as employers and/or funders/partners of researchers have an overriding obligation to ensure that they meet the requirements of the respective national or regional legislation. Where researchers enjoy a status and rights which are, in certain respects, more favorable than those provided for in this Charter, its terms should not be invoked to diminish the status and rights already acquired.

The Nicotine Science Center – Charter for Research has been inspired by the European Charter for Researchers, and adapted to meet the needs for the Nicotine Science Center.


General Principles and Requirements applicable to Researchers

Research freedom
Researchers should focus their research for the good of mankind and for expanding the frontiers of scientific knowledge, while enjoying the freedom of thought and expression, and the freedom to identify methods by which problems are solved, according to recognized ethical principles and practices.

Researchers should, however, recognize the limitations to this freedom that could arise as a result of particular research circumstances (including supervision/guidance/management) or operational constraints, e.g. for budgetary or infrastructural reasons or, especially in the industrial sector, for reasons of intellectual property protection. Such limitations should not, however, contravene recognized ethical principles and practices, to which researchers have to adhere.

The outcome of their research should be published as soon as possible without impacting the opportunity to secure protection of Intellectual Property Rights as detailed in agreement with the Nicotine Science Center acting as funder and/or partner.

Ethical principles
Researchers should adhere to the recognized ethical practices and fundamental ethical principles appropriate to their discipline(s) as well as to ethical standards as documented in the different national, sectorial or institutional Codes of Ethics.

Professional responsibility
Researchers should make every effort to ensure that their research is relevant and within the scope of the  research project and does not duplicate research previously carried out elsewhere.

They must avoid plagiarism of any kind and abide by the principle of intellectual property and joint data ownership in the case of research carried out in collaboration with a supervisor(s) and/or other researchers. The need to validate new observations by showing that experiments are reproducible should not be interpreted as plagiarism, provided that the data to be confirmed are explicitly quoted.

Researchers should ensure, if any aspect of their work is delegated, that the person to whom it is delegated has the competence to carry it out.

Professional attitude
Researchers should be familiar with the strategic goals governing their research environment and funding mechanisms, and should seek all necessary approvals before starting their research or accessing the resources provided.

They should inform their employers, funders/partners or supervisor when their research project is delayed, redefined or completed, or give notice if it is to be terminated earlier or suspended for whatever reason. 

Contractual and legal obligations
Researchers at all levels must be familiar with the national, sectorial or institutional regulations governing training and/or working conditions. This includes Intellectual Property Rights regulations, and the requirements and conditions of any sponsor or funders/partners, independently of the nature of their contract. Researchers should adhere to such regulations by delivering the required results (e.g. thesis, publications, patents, reports, new products development, etc) as set out in the terms and conditions of the contract or equivalent document.

Researchers need to be aware that they are accountable towards their employers, funders/partners or other related public or private bodies as well as, on more ethical grounds, towards society as a whole. In particular, researchers funded by the Nicotine Science Center are also accountable for the efficient use of the funder's  money. Consequently, they should adhere to the principles of sound, transparent and efficient financial management and cooperate with any authorized audits of their research, whether undertaken by their employers/funders/partners or by ethics committees.      

Methods of collection and analysis, the outputs and, where applicable, details of the data should be open to internal and external scrutiny, whenever necessary and as requested by the appropriate authorities.

Good practice in research
Researchers should at all times adopt safe working practices, in line with national legislation, including taking the necessary precautions for health and safety and for recovery from information technology disasters, e.g. by preparing proper back-up strategies. They should also be familiar with the current national legal requirements regarding data protection and confidentiality protection requirements, and undertake the necessary steps to fulfil them at all times.

Dissemination, exploitation of results
All researchers should ensure, in compliance with their contractual arrangements, that the results of their research are disseminated and exploited, e.g. communicated, transferred into other research settings or, if appropriate, commercialized in cooperation with the Nicotine Science Center and its partners.

Relation with supervisors
Researchers in their training phase should establish a structured and regular relationship with their supervisor(s) and faculty/departmental representative(s) so as to take full advantage of their relationship with them.

This includes keeping records of all work progress and research findings, obtaining feedback by means of reports and seminars, applying such feedback and working in accordance with agreed schedules, milestones, and deliverables and/or research outputs.

Supervision and managerial duties
Senior researchers should devote particular attention to their multi-faceted role as supervisors, mentors, career advisors, leaders, project coordinators, managers or science communicators. They should perform these tasks to the highest professional standards. With regard to their role as supervisors or mentors of researchers, senior researchers should build up a constructive and positive relationship with the early-stage researchers, in order to set the conditions for efficient transfer of knowledge and for the further successful development of the researchers' careers. 


General Principles and Requirements applicable to Employers, Funders and Partners

Funding and salaries
Employers, funders, partners and/or the Nicotine Science Center acting as funder/partner of researchers should ensure that researchers enjoy fair and attractive conditions of funding and/or salaries with adequate and equitable social security provisions (including sickness and parental benefits, pension rights and unemployment benefits) in accordance with existing national legislation and with national or sectorial collective bargaining agreements. This must include researchers at all career stages including early-stage researchers, commensurate with their legal status, performance and level of qualifications and/or responsibilities.

Intellectual Property Rights
Employers, funders, partners and/or the Nicotine Science Center acting as funder/partner of researchers should ensure that researchers at all career stages reap the benefits of the exploitation (if any) of their R&D results through legal protection and, in particular, through appropriate protection of Intellectual Property Rights, including copyrights.

Policies and practices should specify what rights belong to researchers and/or, where applicable, to their employers or other parties, including external commercial or industrial organizations, partners and funders, as possibly provided for under specific collaboration agreements or other types of agreement.