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Operational Committee for the assesment of Legal and Ethical risks

© Inria / Photo Kaksonen

Coerle operates at various levels: it advises project-teams and helps them cover their potential ethical and legal risks. When a matter is referred to Coerle, the committee examines the project then issues a detailed opinion, which might concern experiments or the publication of software, knowledge or data.


The Coerle is composed of 14 members and 2 permanent guests :

  • 8 Inria staff or persons contributing to Inria's missions, including a representative of the Delegation for Legal Affairs,
  • 6 external personalities, including at least one person with recognized legal competence in digital science and technology.

They are appointed by decision of Inria's CEO and Chairman for a term of three years. Depending on the items on the agenda, the Coerle may take the opinion and hear from as many experts as it deems necessary.

Members – Inria staff:

Members – non-Inria staff:

Referring ethical issues to Coerle

When a research team or an individual researcher wants to have a project approved from an ethics viewpoint (for an application to the ERC, for example), they can refer the matter to Coerle through the director of their centre, the centre's scientific officer or a member of the senior management team. Two Coerle contacts are available in each Inria research centre to assist with drafting and tracking the referral: a legal expert or a scientist. The Coerle can also take the initiative of examining a project.

Standard referral process:

  • An ethics issue arises in a research project;
  • A Coerle contact person is asked to assist with drafting a referral;
  • The referral is submitted to Coerle through the Director of the Research Centre or the scientific officer;
  • Coerle has four weeks to issue an opinion to Inria's CEO, who may or may not endorse it;
  • The opinion is forwarded to the project leader.

Possible outcomes of a referral to Coerle

In a case where Coerle has been asked to examine an alleged plagiarism, for example, the committee was able to prove that the allegation was totally unfounded and has taken steps to ensure that the public allegations on the Internet were removed. The Inria researcher was totally cleared of any blame.

At the end of the referral process, the project-team concerned, the director of the research centre or Inria's CEO accordingly receive a detailed opinion, which may also include minority opinions. The opinion should, if possible, be issued within 30 days (or within 10 days for exemptions and urgent requests). Once endorsed by Inria's CEO, this opinion either prohibits or authorises the partial, conditional or unrestricted publication of the research examined.

ERC:special circumstances

Coerle is seised by an officer in charge of partnerships and innovation projects (CPPI) of one of Inria’s research centre to examine requests made by the Ethics Office of the European Research Council.

It liaises with and answers all the questions of its representative in charge of the ERC project, in particular the issues raised by the ethical screening committee in the ethics review process of projects.

The Coerle's responses are forwarded for information to the CPPI and to the ERC grant laureate in question. For each ERC application, a Coerle member is appointed to carry out operational monitoring of the project from an ethics point of view.

Keywords: Organization Ethics COERLE