Ethical considerations in research are about choices and actions, and in decision making which distinguishes between the right and wrong. It determines the difference between acceptable and unacceptable situations. Ethical standards will prevent against the fabrication or be falsifying of data and therefore, promote the pursuit of knowledge and truth which are the primary goal of research. Ethical behavior is also critical for collaborative work because it encourages an environment of trust, accountability and mutual respect among researchers. This is very important when considering issues related to data sharing, co-authorship, copyright guidelines, confidentiality, in order for the public to support and believe in the research. Other helpful guidelines such as human rights, animal welfare, compliance with the law, conflicts of interest, safety and health standards and so forth, must be followed by the researcher. These ethical issues are greatly impacting the integrity of the research project and affected the chances to receive funding if the researcher cannot achieve this requirement.
Ethical considerations are the main subject of research so that many professional associations and agencies have adopted codes and policies for the outline of ethical behavior and guide researchers. The examples of codes address issues is an honesty, objectivity, respect for intellectual property, social responsibility, confidentiality, non-discrimination and many others. It provides basic guidelines, but researchers will still be faced with additional issues that are not specifically addressed and this will require decision-making on the part of the researcher in order to avoid misconduct. The resource on this page address includes many of those issues and the case studies used in these resources provide excellent examples of the types of types of issues.
One of the most important ethical considerations in research is the use of human subjects. To address these considerations, most institutions and organizations have developed an Institutional Review Board (IRB). An IRB is a panel of people who help to ensure the safety of human subjects in research and who can assist in making sure that human rights are not violated. They review the research methodology in grant proposals to assure that ethical practices are being utilized. The use of an IRB also helps to protect the institution and the researchers against potential legal implications from any behavior that may be deemed unethical.
Examples of some of these issues include voluntary participation and informed consent. The voluntary participation requires that people not be coerced into participating in research. It required of informed consent whereby participants must be fully informed about the procedures and risks involved in research and must give their consent to participate. Harm can be defined as both physical and psychological. Ethical standards also protect the confidentiality and anonymity of the subjects. Good research practice often requires the use of a no-treatment control group – a group of participants who don’t get the treatment or program that is being studied. But when that treatment or program may have beneficial effects, the persons assigned to the no-treatment control may feel of their rights to equal access to services are being curtailed.