The RESPECT Code of Practice
The RESPECT guidelines are intended to form the basis of a voluntary code of practice covering the conduct of socio-economic research in Europe.
Carrying out socio-economic research in a professional and ethical manner involves balancing a number of different principles which often lie in tension with each other. This code is based on a recognition that it is the responsibility of individual researchers to make the often difficult professional decisions that establish this balance, and that it is the responsibility of their employers, professional associations and research funders to support them in making these decisions. 1.3.3
This code of practice is intended as an aid to responsible and informed decision-making, not a substitute for it. It is thus an aspirational code, not a prescriptive one.
The RESPECT code is based on a synthesis of the contents of a large number of existing professional and ethical codes of practice, together with current legal requirements in the EU. Whilst the RESPECT provisions are voluntary, some of the requirements on which they are based are morally binding on the members of specific professional associations or legally binding on citizens of EU Member States.
The RESPECT code is not designed to pre-empt more detailed codes developed by specific professional associations, academies or funding agencies. On the contrary, it is hoped that it will provide an aid to the refinement of such codes and the development of new ones where they do not already exist.
The purpose of the RESPECT code is not to create new requirements or restrictions on the conduct of research, but to protect researchers from unprofessional or unethical demands and to raise awareness of ethical issues and spread existing professional good practice, enabling the development of a European Research Area with common standards that are transparent and universally agreed. Such common standards are a prerequisite for the development of a European market in socio-economic research, in which research can be commissioned and partnerships entered into on the basis of clear mutual understandings and expectations.
The underlying principles
The RESPECT code of practice is based on three main principles:
It is recognised that these principles are closely interlinked, and that situations may arise where different elements of these principles may come into tension, or even conflict with each other. As an aid to forming professional judgements about the best way to balance these principles, the RESPECT website includes background documentation that draws on existing literature to provide practical guidelines for researchers faced with such dilemmas.
nb: these links will download PDF reports