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What is Research Ethics? Research Principles & Misconducts

What is Research Ethics

What is Research Ethics? (Ethics in Research)

Research ethics refers to a wide range of values, norms, and institutional arrangements that help to define and control scientific operations. Research ethics is a practical codification of scientific morals. The basic standards and ideals of the research community are specified in research ethics guidelines. They are based on general scientific ethics, just as general ethics is based on societal morality.

The research ethics rules primarily address research, but they also address other research-related activities such as teaching, dissemination of results, expert advice, and institution management. The term “research” also refers to the activity of students at all levels and doctoral research fellows, and it is the responsibility of the institutions to provide appropriate research ethics training. The rules apply to all public and private research, regardless of whether it is fundamental, applied, or commissioned. They also govern consulting firm activities to the extent that they perform research-related tasks, such as the systematic acquisition and processing of information about individuals, groups, or organizations in order to develop new knowledge on a particular subject.

In other words, Research ethics provides guidelines for the responsible conduct of research. In addition, it educates and monitors scientists conducting research to ensure a high ethical standard.

Research Ethics Principles

The following is a general summary of some ethical principles:


One should honestly report data, results, methods and procedures, and publication status. Do not fabricate, falsify, or misrepresent data.


Strive to avoid bias in experimental design, data analysis, data interpretation, peer review, personnel decisions, grant writing, expert testimony, and other aspects of research.


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


Avoid careless errors and negligence; carefully and critically examine your own work and the work of your peers. Keep good records of research activities.


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

Respect for Intellectual Property:

Patents, copyrights, and other types of intellectual property should be honored. Without authorization, do not use unpublished data, techniques, or results. Don’t forget to give credit where credit is due. Plagiarism is never acceptable.


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

Responsible Publication:

Publish in order to advance research and scholarship, not to advance just your own 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.

Social Responsibility:

Strive to promote social good and prevent or mitigate social harms through research, public education, and advocacy.


Discrimination against colleagues or students based on sex, colour, ethnicity, or other criteria unrelated to their scientific ability and integrity should be avoided.


Maintain and improve your own professional competence and expertise through lifelong education and learning; take steps to promote competence in science as a whole.


Know and obey relevant laws and institutional and governmental policies.

Animal Care:

Show proper respect and care for animals when using them in research. Do not conduct unnecessary or poorly designed animal experiments.

Human Subjects Protection:

When conducting research on human subjects, minimize harms and risks and maximize benefits; respect human dignity, privacy, and autonomy.

Research Misconducts

What are research misconducts?

(a) Fabrication – making up data or results and recording or reporting them.

(b) Falsification – manipulating research materials, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record.

(c) Plagiarism – the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.

(d) Research misconduct does not include honest errors or differences of opinion.

Ethics of Research Courses/programs

1. Introduction to Research Ethics: Working with People

On this course, you will learn the principles of ethical research, and how to manage human subject research in sensitive and appropriate ways. You will consider issues like gaining consent, making sure that personal information is handled safely, and recruiting vulnerable participants.

This course is useful for learners undertaking research with people using social research methods such as questionnaires, interviews etc.

The course is essential for undergraduate students completing research for their final year project but it is also suitable for postgraduates and academic researchers.

The course is part of the academic skills courses portfolio at the University of Leeds aiming to improve skills required for academic study.

What topics will you cover?

  • Research ethics: why it matters
  • Recruiting your participants for your research and getting their consent
  • What to consider if you are recruiting vulnerable participants
  • Could your research put you or your participants at risk of harm?
  • Storing personal data
  • Archival and internet research

Taught by

Natasha McKeever

2. PhD Coursework Examination- Research & Publication Ethics – Part I (Youtube)

Find out how to conduct ethical research when working with people by studying this online course for university students.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to…

  • Identify and evaluate key principles of ethical research
  • Apply principles of ethical research
  • Identify potential ethical issues relating to your own research

Article by
Skillshouter Staff
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  • skillshouter Team

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