[Answered] What is research ethics? Discuss the principles of research ethics.

Demand of the question
Introduction. About research ethics.
Body. Importance and principles of research ethics.
Conclusion. Way forward.

Research ethics are the standards of conduct that governs the scientific research. It is important to adhere to ethical principles in order to protect the dignity, rights and welfare of research participants. These standards also help members of the discipline to coordinate their actions or activities and to establish the public’s trust of the discipline.

Importance of Research ethics

  1. Norms promote the aims of research, such as knowledge, truth, and avoidance of error. For example, prohibitions against fabricating, falsifying, or misrepresenting research data promote the truth and minimise error.
  2. Since research often involves a great deal of cooperation and coordination among many different people in different disciplines and institutions, ethical standards promote the values that are essential to collaborative work, such as trust, accountability, mutual respect, and fairness.
  3. Many of the ethical norms ensure that researchers can be held accountable to the public. Policies on research misconduct, conflicts of interest, the human subjects protections, and animal care and use are necessary in order to make sure that researchers who are funded by public money can be held accountable to the public.
  4. Ethical norms in research also help to build public support for research. People are more likely to fund a research project if they can trust the quality and integrity of research.
  5. Many of the norms of research promote a variety of other important moral and social values, such as social responsibility, human rights, animal welfare, compliance with the law, and public health and safety. Ethical lapses in research can significantly harm human and animal subjects, students, and the public.

Various Principles of research ethics-

  • Social and clinical value: Every research study is designed to answer a specific question. The answers to the research question should contribute to scientific understanding of health or improve our ways of preventing, treating, or caring for people with a given disease to justify exposing participants to the risk and burden of research.
  • Fair subject selection: The primary basis for recruiting participants should be the scientific goals of the study — not vulnerability, privilege, or other unrelated factors. Participants who accept the risks of research should be in a position to enjoy its benefits. Specific groups of participants  (for example, women or children) should not be excluded from the research opportunities without a good scientific reason or a particular susceptibility to risk.
  • Favourable risk-benefit ratio: Uncertainty about the degree of risks and benefits associated with a clinical research study is inherent. Research risks may be trivial or serious, transient or long-term. Risks can be physical, psychological, economic, or social. Everything should be done to minimise the risks and inconvenience to research participants to maximise the potential benefits, and to determine that the potential benefits are proportionate to, or outweigh, the risks.
  • Independent review: To minimise potential conflicts of interest and make sure a study is ethically acceptable before it starts, an independent review panel should review the proposal and ask important questions, ensuring the trial free of any bias. The panel should also monitors a study while it is ongoing.
  • Informed consent: Potential participants should make their own decision about whether they want to participate or continue participating in research. This is done through a process of informed consent in which individuals-
    • are accurately informed of the purpose, methods, risks, benefits, and alternatives to the research
    • understand this information and how it relates to their own clinical situation or interests, and
    • make a voluntary decision about whether to participate.
  • Respect for potential and enrolled participants: Individuals should be treated with respect from the time they are approached for possible participation — even if they refuse enrolment in a study — throughout their participation and after their participation ends. This includes:
    • respecting their privacy and keeping their private information confidential.
    • respecting their right to change their mind, to decide that the research does not match their interests, and to withdraw without a penalty.
    • informing them of new information that might emerge in the course of research, which might change their assessment of the risks and benefits of participating.
    • monitoring their welfare and, if they experience adverse reactions, unexpected effects, or changes in clinical status, ensuring appropriate treatment.
  • Honesty: Honest research and efforts are very important in all science. Honestly report data, results, methods and procedures, and publication status. Do not fabricate, falsify, or misrepresent data. Do not deceive colleagues, research sponsors, or the public.
  • Objectivity: Strive to avoid bias in experimental design, data analysis, data interpretation, peer review, personnel decisions, grant writing, expert testimony, and other aspects of research where objectivity is expected or required. Avoid or minimize bias or self-deception. Disclose personal or financial interests that may affect research.

Research ethics are very important in the field of science. When conducting research on human subjects, minimising harms and risks and maximising benefits; respect human dignity, privacy, and autonomy; special precautions should be taken with vulnerable populations; and should strive to distribute the benefits and burdens of research fairly.

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