Ethics and Compliance


Ethics and compliance concepts are critical to research activities at Stanford University. These regulations serve to maintain the public trust; that is, trust in research results and outcomes; trust that patients and human subjects are given the best care and treatment; trust that public funds are spent for the benefit of all, and trust that scientific investigation is done responsibly.

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Our Ethics and Compliance Framework

The following seven elements of ethics and compliance excellence provide a framework for supporting ethics and compliance at Stanford. 

  1. Organizational Leadership, Culture, and Governance: Demonstrate a compelling “tone from the top” by instituting effective organizational vision, structure, oversight, communication, and governance. 
  2. Standards and Procedures: Establish standards and procedures, policies, and guidelines to promote operational excellence through ethical behavior. Encourage commitment to the University’s Code of Conduct and other University standards and unit guidelines for performance and conduct.
  3. Right People, Right Roles: Hire and empower exceptional personnel. Grant and monitor appropriate authority to enable effective support of our mission. Promote recognition for exceptional work and ensure decision-making authorities are informed and knowledgeable about operations.
  4. Education and Awareness: Communicate expectations of high ethical standards and adherence to policies, procedures, and other aspects of ethics and compliance. Provide training and education consistently, effectively and in a practical manner as appropriate to an individual’s role and responsibilities.
  5. Program Evaluation and Guidance : Monitor and audit periodically to detect unusual results or noncompliant conduct. Establish and promote avenues for individuals to seek guidance or report potential noncompliant conduct without fear of retaliation.  
  6. Consistent Enforcement of Standards and Discipline: Promote and consistently enforce standards and discipline throughout the organization. Establish a response to detected offenses and implement corrective action plans. Uniformly enforce standards through appropriate discipline to prevent similar conduct.

Response and Prevention: Respond appropriately to noncompliant acts to prevent further instances. Make any necessary improvements to reduce the risk of future noncompliance and perform outreach to re-align organizational culture.

How to Report Suspected Violations Internally

Suspected violations should be made initially through standard management channels, beginning with your immediate supervisor, instructor, or advisor. If for any reason it is not appropriate to report suspected violations to your immediate supervisor, you may go to a higher level of management within your school or department. The Associate Vice Provost for Research is also available to assist you with research-related compliance concerns.

If you're still unsure or uncomfortable, the Ethics and Compliance Helpline is a confidential, anonymity-optional, reporting mechanism that facilitates reporting of possible illegal, unethical, or improper conduct when the normal channels of communication have proven ineffective or are impractical under the circumstances. You may also contact the Office of the General Counsel at (650)723-9611.

The more information given, the easier it is to investigate the report. All Stanford community members are expected to cooperate fully in the investigation of any misconduct.