IST Programme RESPECT: an IST Programme Project
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RESPECT for research ethics: guidelines

 

Guidelines for Conducting Ethical Socio-Economic Research

Ethical decisions are required throughout the whole life of a research project and in all aspects of a study. Making ethical decisions nearly always involves facing a series of dilemmas. There is rarely one straightforward answer, and decisions need to be made on the basis of thinking about balancing some basic ethical principles, rather than ad hoc reactions to emerging situations.

These guidelines outline a set of basic principles that anyone commissioning or conducting research should aim to address when making balanced ethical decisions.

Ethical socio-economic research encompasses the following principles:

  • The research aims of any study should both benefit society and minimise social harm.

  • Researchers should endeavour to balance professional integrity with respect for national and international law.

  • Researchers should endeavour to ensure that research is commissioned and conducted with respect for, and awareness of, gender differences.

  • Researchers should endeavour to ensure that research is commissioned and conducted with respect for all groups in society, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion and culture.

  • Researchers should endeavour to ensure that research is commissioned and conducted with respect for under-represented social groups and that attempts are made to avoid their marginalisation or exclusion.

  • Researchers should endeavour to ensure that the concerns of relevant stakeholders and user groups are addressed.

  • Researchers should endeavour to ensure that an appropriate research method is selected on the basis of informed prof-essional expertise.

  • Researchers should endeavour to ensure that the research team has the necessary professional expertise and support.

  • Researchers should endeavour to ensure that the research process does not involve any unwarranted material gain or loss for any participants.

  • Researchers should endeavour to ensure factual accuracy and avoid falsification, fabrication, suppression or misinterpretation of data.

  • Researchers should endeavour to reflect on the consequences of research engagement for all participants, and attempt to alleviate potential disadvantages to participation for any individual or category of person.

  • Researchers should endeavour to ensure that reporting and dissemination are carried out in a responsible manner.

  • Researchers should endeavour to ensure that methodology and findings are open for discussion and peer review.

  • Researchers should endeavour to ensure that any debts to previous research as a source of knowledge, data, concepts and methodology should be fully acknowledged in all outputs.

  • Researchers should endeavour to ensure that participation in research should be voluntary.

  • Researchers should endeavour to ensure that decisions about participation in research are made from an informed position.

  • Researchers should endeavour to ensure that all data are treated with appropriate confidentiality and anonymity.

  • Researchers should endeavour to ensure that research participants are protected from undue intrusion, distress, indignity, physical discomfort, personal embarrassment, or psychological or other harm.

principles and dilemmas principles and dilemnmas