Most funding agencies, professional associations and universities have established ethics rules and procedures for research (see e.g. here and here). By and large, and in global comparison, these rules and procedures are weaker with reference to political science than the life sciences. The main reason is that lab and field experiments affecting humans have become more popular in political science only in recent years. As to Switzerland, which I know best, I can’t think of any political science research project in recent years that voluntarily or involuntarily went through formal screening by a governmental or university-based ethics committee. (Note that I am not talking about codes of conduct concerning authorship, plagiarism, etc., but rules and procedures designed to protect the targets of research activity against negative effects that may result from such activity).
In my view, it is only a matter of time before some political science project in Switzerland runs into trouble on this account. Think of field-experiments in which politically contested information treatments affect political behavior, where privacy issues arise, or where informed prior consent is not possible.
My reading of my own university’s (ETH Zurich) current ethics committee guidelines is that field experiments in political science do not require formal approval by the committee because they are not covered by the committee’s mandate. Where to go next, assuming that I have an interest in obtaining “ethical cover” before I start a potentially sensitive research project? The Swiss Political Science Association? It has no rules and no committee that would be of any help here. The same holds for the Swiss National Science Foundation and existing federal or cantonal ethics committees in Switzerland.
The EU has established ethics rules that are relevant for social sciences research as well. So it should be quite easy to set up a tailor-made system for political science. Who could, should or will take the lead?