ethics and good research practices

Ethics & Good Research Practice: What Students and Researchers Should Know

Ethical norms are so ubiquitous that one might be tempted to regard them as simple common sense; however, there are guidelines for responsible research.

Ethics & Good Research Practice: What Students and Researchers Should Know

Ethical norms are so ubiquitous that one might be tempted to regard them as simple common sense; however, there are guidelines for responsible research.

Mohammadreza Aghaei

November 25, 2019

 

Ethics are the moral principles that students or researchers must follow, irrespective of place or time. Ethical behaviour requires doing the right thing at the right time. Research ethics focuses on the moral principles that researchers must follow in their respective fields.

The most common definition of ethics is "the norms for conduct that distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour". Most people learn ethical norms at home, at school, in church, or other social settings. Although most people acquire their sense of right and wrong during childhood, moral development occurs throughout life, and human beings go through different stages of growth as they mature.

Ethical norms are so ubiquitous that one might be tempted to regard them as simple common sense. However, research ethics is a combination of values, rules and regulations that support the development and improvement of research activities. Research ethics are based on a set of guiding principles that lead to the establishment of specific good practices in research.  Research ethics provides guidelines for the responsible conduct of research. Besides, it educates and monitors scientists to ensure a high ethical standard while conducting research. The following is a general summary of some ethical principles that students and researchers should keep in mind:

Honesty

Strive for honesty in all scientific communications. Report data, results, methods and procedures, and publication status honestly. Do not fabricate, falsify, or misrepresent data. Do not deceive colleagues, granting agencies, or the public.

Objectivity

Avoid bias in experimental design, data analysis and interpretation, peer review, personnel decisions, grant, writing and expert testimony. In addition to these, avoid bias in other aspects of research where objectivity is expected or required. Disclose personal or financial interests that may affect research.

Integrity

Keep your promises and agreements; act with sincerity; strive for consistency of thought and action.

Carefulness

Avoid careless errors and negligence; carefully and critically examine your work and work of your peers. Keep good records of research activities, such as data collection, research design, and correspondence with agencies or journals.

Openness

Share data, results, ideas, tools, resources. Be open to criticism and new ideas.

Respect for Intellectual Property

Honour patents, copyrights, and other forms of intellectual property. Do not use unpublished data, methods, or results without permission. Give credit where credit is due. Give proper acknowledgement or credit for all contributions to research and never plagiarise.

Confidentiality

Protect confidential documents, such as grants or papers submitted for publication, personnel records, trade or military secrets, and patient records.

Responsible Publication

Publish to advance research and scholarship, not to advance just your career. Avoid wasteful and duplicative publication.

Responsible Mentoring

Help to educate, mentor, and advise students. Promote their welfare and allow them to make their own decisions.

Respect for colleagues

Respect your colleagues and treat them fairly.

References:

-       https://www.enago.com/academy/principles-of-ethical-research/
-       David B. Resnik, J.D.,What is Ethics in Research & Why is it Important?, National institute of environmental health science, May 1, 2011.
-       https://publicationethics.org/
-       https://libguides.library.cityu.edu.hk/researchmethods/ethics
-       http://investigacion.ugr.es/pages/etica/buenaspracticas/codeofgoodpracticeinresearchenunido2019

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