What is Research Ethics?

Research Ethics

Research Ethics is defined here to be the ethics of the planning, conduct, and reporting of research.

It is clear that research ethics should include:

However, not all researchers use human or animal subjects, nor are the ethical dimensions of research confined solely to protections for research subjects. Other ethical challenges are rooted in many dimensions of research, including the:

For the purpose of this online resource, the domain of research ethics is intended to include nothing less than the fostering of research that protects the interests of the public, the subjects of research, and the researchers themselves.

Ethical Distinctions

In discussing or teaching research ethics, it is important to keep some basic distinctions in mind.

Prescriptive vs. descriptive claims

Law vs. morality

First-order questions

Second-order questions

Ethical Approaches

Each of these approaches provides moral principles and ways of thinking about the responsibilities, duties and obligations of moral life. Individually and jointly, they can provide practical guidance in ethical decision-making.

Deontological ethics

Consequentialist ethics

Virtue ethics

An ethics of care

Casuistry or case study approaches

Applied ethics


Research Ethics


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