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Understanding Research Ethics Dr Meera Warrier Research Development Coordinator Academic Practice

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Presentation on theme: "Understanding Research Ethics Dr Meera Warrier Research Development Coordinator Academic Practice"— Presentation transcript:

1 Understanding Research Ethics Dr Meera Warrier Research Development Coordinator Academic Practice

2 Understandings of ‘Research’ Ethics Purpose of research Accuracy and lack of bias Confidentiality not being breached Questioning not too personal or intrusive Appropriate behaviour on the part of researchers Following procedures/ organisational standards

3 Presentation Outline Explore research governance context General principles underpinning ethical research Consider university’s research ethics procedures Reflect on the implications of this for your work

4 Ethical Problems May Arise… … from the nature of the research project itself (ethnic differences in intelligence, for example); the context for the research (a remand home); the procedures to be adopted (producing high levels of anxiety); methods of data collection (covert observation); the type of data collected (highly personal information of a sensitive kind); and what is to be done with the data (publishing in a manner that causes the participants embarrassment). Cohen et. al 2000: 49

5 The Research Governance Context It is in a state of continuous change It involves a complex of policies, laws, initiatives, ‘values’ But Implementation piecemeal Connections with ‘risk’ not quite understood

6 Why is this Important? Thinking about/ being informed by ethics can make you a better scholar and researcher You, your research participants and the University need to be protected University policy research-ethics/code-of-practice

7 University of Leicester Principles Researchers must: respect the rights, interests and dignity of participants and related persons adhere to the relevant law normally obtain informed consent obtain consent without coercion protect participants from harm adhere to the principles of academic independence

8 University of Leicester Principles Researchers must: respect confidentiality and anonymity obtain approval from the relevant ethics committee design and conduct research to ensure integrity and quality

9 Key Issues Voluntary Participation Consent (informed) Confidentiality and Anonymity

10 Voluntary Participation Consent should be voluntary, obtained without duress. –Are participants aware of what is being asked of them? What the research process will involve The reasons for their participation How and to whom it will be reported –Is the participant competent to make their own decision regarding participation? –Are the participants taking part voluntarily? –Do the participants fully understand this information?

11 Informed Consent Valid consent comprises 3 elements: Adequate information (hence, ‘informed’ consent) Voluntariness (not coerced or manipulated) Competence and/or autonomy (undermined, e.g. by severe cognitive impairment)

12 When Consent is Not Appropriate Observation in public places –e.g. visitor movements through museums Covert research –e.g. requiring working undercover/ in disguise Using data in the public domain –e.g. census, household survey Research necessitating deception –e.g. where participants think the purpose is different from the real one –Consent should be obtained afterward if possible

13 Anonymity and Confidentiality “Anonymity exists when no one, including the researcher, can relate a participants identity to any information pertaining to the project” “Confidentiality exists when only the researchers are aware of the participants’ identities and have promised not to reveal those identities to others” Dane 1990:51

14 Confidentiality According to the UK Data Protection Act 1998, sensitive data include: … data about a person’s ethnic origins, political opinions, religious beliefs, trade union membership, health, sexual life and criminal history (

15 Research Ethics Committees Research Involving Human Participants NHS Research Ethics Committee University Research Ethics Process

16 University Research Ethics Process Research Ethics Form Departmental Ethics Officer Minimal Risk Acceptance More than Minimal Risk Department, School or Faculty Ethics Committee Reject University Ethics Committee Appeal Research

17 The Process at Leicester All PhD research involving human subjects – complete Research Ethics Review Form before you undertake any research: 1.This must be submitted to your supervisor/tutor 2.If your supervisor/tutor thinks it is fine they will submit it to the Research Ethics Officer for approval 3.If the REO is happy, they will sign it off. But if s(he) thinks it involves more complex issues, she may send it to the Faculty Research Ethics Committee for consideration 4.The Faculty Committee may or may not approve the application. If rejected, you have the right to have your application considered by the University Committee but this will only be for exceptional circumstances. 5.Leave plenty of time for this process to be completed.

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