Importance Of Ethics In Research

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The central theme underscoring the essay, “What is Ethics in Research & Why is it Important?” is educating budding researchers and research community on the importance of ‘responsible conduct of research (RCR).’ The author D.B. Resnik deftly engages the readers and takes them through a journey that introduces the concept of basic ethical norms that act as guidelines for desirable behaviour in personal context. He gradually expands the scope and discusses the applicability of ethical norms across various professional domains and varying research contexts. Through his cases, he gives a flavour of various forms of ethical issues i.e. research misconduct, ethical deviations and ethical dilemmas.

Ethics are driven by moral values, and are broader
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Due to this inherent challenge associated with ethical issues, each profession i.e. medicine, law, engineering and business, has arrived at their own ethical standards that govern conduct. Hence, the author defines ethics, ‘as a method, procedure, or perspective for deciding how to act and for analysing complex problems and issues.’

As a specialised discipline, ‘Research Ethics’ has also formulated a set of principles, policies and procedures that guide conduct for researchers. These principles focus on honestly reporting data and analysis, ensuring objectivity in design, implementation and evaluation of research projects, upholding integrity and confidentiality for research subjects, and ensuring that benefits and burdens are shared evenly across relevant stakeholders.

These ethical norms in research are extremely important because
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agency policies, team’s intellectual property interests, possibility of drawing up an agreement
• List different options
• Evaluate how ethical codes and legal rules apply to these options
• Seek advice from research experts
• Evaluate and identify the option that offers the best outcomes for science and society
• Identify the option that could further withstand public scrutiny and publicity
• Choose the option that a wise person would go for
• Choose an option that is just, fair or responsible

If rationalising based on the above does not suffice, the decision maker can choose to trust his intuition or resort to seemingly irrational channels to firm up the choice. This does not imply that human reasoning is fallible, but limitations pertaining to human ability to resolve ethical dilemmas in a speedy manner needs to be acknowledged in such challenging contexts.

In the final part of the essay, the author acknowledges that though research misconduct is minimal, it has a huge impact on the credibility placed on researchers and affects the future of research in science. The underlying causes of misconduct could be morally weak, ignorant people, driven by unrealistic external pressures, engaging in wrong
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