IST Programme RESPECT: an IST Programme Project
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The RESPECT Code of Practice


3. Avoidance of social and personal harm

It should be an overriding aim of socio-economic research that the results should benefit society, either directly or by generally improving human knowledge and understanding. It follows from this that in the conduct of the research, researchers should aim to avoid or minimise social harm to groups and individuals. see ethics report2.1

With this in mind, socio-economic researchers and their funders should reflect on the consequences of participation in the research for all research subjects and stakeholders. see ethics report2.6; 3.5

Research should be designed responsibly in order to ensure that the methodology is appropriate, that no group is unreasonably excluded and that harm is minimised. Participants should not be worse off as a result of their involvement in the research. Research should also be designed in order to maximise its utility and relevance for the benefit of society.

Wherever possible, and providing that this does not conflict with other ethical or scientific considerations, representatives of the social groups under study should be actively involved in the research.

In particular, researchers should endeavour to:

  1. ensure that participation in research is voluntary, on the basis of informed consent, taking account of the specific requirements of differing types of quantitative and qualitative research see ethics report4.2; 4.3 see professional standards report1.4; Apx4

  2. take special care to protect the interests of children, the mentally impaired, the elderly and other vulnerable groups see ethics report4

  3. ensure that the views of all relevant stakeholders are taken into account where this does not conflict with other ethical or scientific principles see ethics report2.6

  4. ensure that research participants are protected from undue intrusion, distress, indignity, physical discomfort, personal embarrassment or psychological or other harm see ethics report4.5

  5. ensure that the research process does not involve unwarranted material gain or loss for any participant see ethics report3.3

  6. ensure that research results are disseminated in a manner that makes them accessible to the relevant social stakeholders see ethics report3.6

  7. ensure that research is commissioned and conducted with respect for all groups in society regardless of race, ethnicity, religion and culture, and with respect for and awareness of gender or other significant social differences see ethics report2.2; 2.3; 2.4 see professional standards report1.5.1

  8. avoid harassment or discrimination against research assistants, trainees or other colleagues and minimise any safety risks. see ethics report2.2; 2.3; 3.2 see professional standards report1.5; Apx5









cross references
to reports:

see ethics report Ethics

see intellectual property report Intellectual

see data protection report Data protection

see professional standards report Professional

nb: these links will download PDF reports