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  • Ethical Considerations in Research | Types & Examples

Ethical Considerations in Research | Types & Examples

Published on October 18, 2021 by Pritha Bhandari . Revised on June 22, 2023.

Ethical considerations in research are a set of principles that guide your research designs and practices. Scientists and researchers must always adhere to a certain code of conduct when collecting data from people.

The goals of human research often include understanding real-life phenomena, studying effective treatments, investigating behaviors, and improving lives in other ways. What you decide to research and how you conduct that research involve key ethical considerations.

These considerations work to

  • protect the rights of research participants
  • enhance research validity
  • maintain scientific or academic integrity

Table of contents

Why do research ethics matter, getting ethical approval for your study, types of ethical issues, voluntary participation, informed consent, confidentiality, potential for harm, results communication, examples of ethical failures, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about research ethics.

Research ethics matter for scientific integrity, human rights and dignity, and collaboration between science and society. These principles make sure that participation in studies is voluntary, informed, and safe for research subjects.

You’ll balance pursuing important research objectives with using ethical research methods and procedures. It’s always necessary to prevent permanent or excessive harm to participants, whether inadvertent or not.

Defying research ethics will also lower the credibility of your research because it’s hard for others to trust your data if your methods are morally questionable.

Even if a research idea is valuable to society, it doesn’t justify violating the human rights or dignity of your study participants.

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Before you start any study involving data collection with people, you’ll submit your research proposal to an institutional review board (IRB) .

An IRB is a committee that checks whether your research aims and research design are ethically acceptable and follow your institution’s code of conduct. They check that your research materials and procedures are up to code.

If successful, you’ll receive IRB approval, and you can begin collecting data according to the approved procedures. If you want to make any changes to your procedures or materials, you’ll need to submit a modification application to the IRB for approval.

If unsuccessful, you may be asked to re-submit with modifications or your research proposal may receive a rejection. To get IRB approval, it’s important to explicitly note how you’ll tackle each of the ethical issues that may arise in your study.

There are several ethical issues you should always pay attention to in your research design, and these issues can overlap with each other.

You’ll usually outline ways you’ll deal with each issue in your research proposal if you plan to collect data from participants.

Voluntary participation means that all research subjects are free to choose to participate without any pressure or coercion.

All participants are able to withdraw from, or leave, the study at any point without feeling an obligation to continue. Your participants don’t need to provide a reason for leaving the study.

It’s important to make it clear to participants that there are no negative consequences or repercussions to their refusal to participate. After all, they’re taking the time to help you in the research process , so you should respect their decisions without trying to change their minds.

Voluntary participation is an ethical principle protected by international law and many scientific codes of conduct.

Take special care to ensure there’s no pressure on participants when you’re working with vulnerable groups of people who may find it hard to stop the study even when they want to.

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Informed consent refers to a situation in which all potential participants receive and understand all the information they need to decide whether they want to participate. This includes information about the study’s benefits, risks, funding, and institutional approval.

You make sure to provide all potential participants with all the relevant information about

  • what the study is about
  • the risks and benefits of taking part
  • how long the study will take
  • your supervisor’s contact information and the institution’s approval number

Usually, you’ll provide participants with a text for them to read and ask them if they have any questions. If they agree to participate, they can sign or initial the consent form. Note that this may not be sufficient for informed consent when you work with particularly vulnerable groups of people.

If you’re collecting data from people with low literacy, make sure to verbally explain the consent form to them before they agree to participate.

For participants with very limited English proficiency, you should always translate the study materials or work with an interpreter so they have all the information in their first language.

In research with children, you’ll often need informed permission for their participation from their parents or guardians. Although children cannot give informed consent, it’s best to also ask for their assent (agreement) to participate, depending on their age and maturity level.

Anonymity means that you don’t know who the participants are and you can’t link any individual participant to their data.

You can only guarantee anonymity by not collecting any personally identifying information—for example, names, phone numbers, email addresses, IP addresses, physical characteristics, photos, and videos.

In many cases, it may be impossible to truly anonymize data collection . For example, data collected in person or by phone cannot be considered fully anonymous because some personal identifiers (demographic information or phone numbers) are impossible to hide.

You’ll also need to collect some identifying information if you give your participants the option to withdraw their data at a later stage.

Data pseudonymization is an alternative method where you replace identifying information about participants with pseudonymous, or fake, identifiers. The data can still be linked to participants but it’s harder to do so because you separate personal information from the study data.

Confidentiality means that you know who the participants are, but you remove all identifying information from your report.

All participants have a right to privacy, so you should protect their personal data for as long as you store or use it. Even when you can’t collect data anonymously, you should secure confidentiality whenever you can.

Some research designs aren’t conducive to confidentiality, but it’s important to make all attempts and inform participants of the risks involved.

As a researcher, you have to consider all possible sources of harm to participants. Harm can come in many different forms.

  • Psychological harm: Sensitive questions or tasks may trigger negative emotions such as shame or anxiety.
  • Social harm: Participation can involve social risks, public embarrassment, or stigma.
  • Physical harm: Pain or injury can result from the study procedures.
  • Legal harm: Reporting sensitive data could lead to legal risks or a breach of privacy.

It’s best to consider every possible source of harm in your study as well as concrete ways to mitigate them. Involve your supervisor to discuss steps for harm reduction.

Make sure to disclose all possible risks of harm to participants before the study to get informed consent. If there is a risk of harm, prepare to provide participants with resources or counseling or medical services if needed.

Some of these questions may bring up negative emotions, so you inform participants about the sensitive nature of the survey and assure them that their responses will be confidential.

The way you communicate your research results can sometimes involve ethical issues. Good science communication is honest, reliable, and credible. It’s best to make your results as transparent as possible.

Take steps to actively avoid plagiarism and research misconduct wherever possible.

Plagiarism means submitting others’ works as your own. Although it can be unintentional, copying someone else’s work without proper credit amounts to stealing. It’s an ethical problem in research communication because you may benefit by harming other researchers.

Self-plagiarism is when you republish or re-submit parts of your own papers or reports without properly citing your original work.

This is problematic because you may benefit from presenting your ideas as new and original even though they’ve already been published elsewhere in the past. You may also be infringing on your previous publisher’s copyright, violating an ethical code, or wasting time and resources by doing so.

In extreme cases of self-plagiarism, entire datasets or papers are sometimes duplicated. These are major ethical violations because they can skew research findings if taken as original data.

You notice that two published studies have similar characteristics even though they are from different years. Their sample sizes, locations, treatments, and results are highly similar, and the studies share one author in common.

Research misconduct

Research misconduct means making up or falsifying data, manipulating data analyses, or misrepresenting results in research reports. It’s a form of academic fraud.

These actions are committed intentionally and can have serious consequences; research misconduct is not a simple mistake or a point of disagreement about data analyses.

Research misconduct is a serious ethical issue because it can undermine academic integrity and institutional credibility. It leads to a waste of funding and resources that could have been used for alternative research.

Later investigations revealed that they fabricated and manipulated their data to show a nonexistent link between vaccines and autism. Wakefield also neglected to disclose important conflicts of interest, and his medical license was taken away.

This fraudulent work sparked vaccine hesitancy among parents and caregivers. The rate of MMR vaccinations in children fell sharply, and measles outbreaks became more common due to a lack of herd immunity.

Research scandals with ethical failures are littered throughout history, but some took place not that long ago.

Some scientists in positions of power have historically mistreated or even abused research participants to investigate research problems at any cost. These participants were prisoners, under their care, or otherwise trusted them to treat them with dignity.

To demonstrate the importance of research ethics, we’ll briefly review two research studies that violated human rights in modern history.

These experiments were inhumane and resulted in trauma, permanent disabilities, or death in many cases.

After some Nazi doctors were put on trial for their crimes, the Nuremberg Code of research ethics for human experimentation was developed in 1947 to establish a new standard for human experimentation in medical research.

In reality, the actual goal was to study the effects of the disease when left untreated, and the researchers never informed participants about their diagnoses or the research aims.

Although participants experienced severe health problems, including blindness and other complications, the researchers only pretended to provide medical care.

When treatment became possible in 1943, 11 years after the study began, none of the participants were offered it, despite their health conditions and high risk of death.

Ethical failures like these resulted in severe harm to participants, wasted resources, and lower trust in science and scientists. This is why all research institutions have strict ethical guidelines for performing research.

If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Normal distribution
  • Measures of central tendency
  • Chi square tests
  • Confidence interval
  • Quartiles & Quantiles
  • Cluster sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Thematic analysis
  • Cohort study
  • Peer review
  • Ethnography

Research bias

  • Implicit bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Conformity bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Availability heuristic
  • Attrition bias
  • Social desirability bias

Ethical considerations in research are a set of principles that guide your research designs and practices. These principles include voluntary participation, informed consent, anonymity, confidentiality, potential for harm, and results communication.

Scientists and researchers must always adhere to a certain code of conduct when collecting data from others .

These considerations protect the rights of research participants, enhance research validity , and maintain scientific integrity.

Research ethics matter for scientific integrity, human rights and dignity, and collaboration between science and society. These principles make sure that participation in studies is voluntary, informed, and safe.

Anonymity means you don’t know who the participants are, while confidentiality means you know who they are but remove identifying information from your research report. Both are important ethical considerations .

You can only guarantee anonymity by not collecting any personally identifying information—for example, names, phone numbers, email addresses, IP addresses, physical characteristics, photos, or videos.

You can keep data confidential by using aggregate information in your research report, so that you only refer to groups of participants rather than individuals.

These actions are committed intentionally and can have serious consequences; research misconduct is not a simple mistake or a point of disagreement but a serious ethical failure.

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  • J Indian Assoc Pediatr Surg
  • v.25(6); Nov-Dec 2020

Ethics in Research and Publication

Pradyumna pan.

Ashish Hospital and Research Centre, Pediatric Surgery Unit, Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, India

Published articles in scientific journals are a key method for knowledge-sharing. Researchers can face the pressures to publish and this can sometimes lead to a breach of ethical values, whether consciously or unconsciously. The prevention of such practices is achieved by the application of strict ethical guidelines applicable to experiments involving human subjects or biological tissues. Editors too are faced with ethical problems, including how best to handle peer-review bias, and find reviewers with experience, probity, and professionalism. This article emphasizes that authors and their sponsoring organizations need to be informed of the importance of upholding the guidelines in research and ethical rules when disclosing scientific work.


Accurate reporting of results of research depends on the integrity of the authors, their application of and compliance with guidelines relating to the assurance of an ethical approach throughout and also on robust institutional research governance protocols ensuring that study design, conduct, and analysis of research and the publishing process all comply to an ethical framework. There is a growing concern that research misconduct over the past two decades has become more common.[ 1 ] It is challenging to determine whether this apparent increase is a true increase in the number of misconducts committed or detection has increased during this period.[ 2 ]


It is important that persons involved in the research must be compliant with the ethical framework in which they should function. The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) published guidelines on Good Publication Practice in 1999[ 3 ] and continues to update these regularly.[ 4 ]

Study design

The design of the study is a collection of methods and procedures used to gather and analyze the data on variables defined in a research. A poorly designed study can never be recovered, whereas an inadequately analyzed study can be re-analyzed to reach a meaningful conclusion.[ 5 ] The study design should be clearly expressed in a written protocol. In clinical studies, the number of participants to be included in the analysis should be sufficiently large to give a definitive result. Local ethical research committees should hold back approval until the deficiencies in the design of the study have been corrected. All investigators should agree on the final protocol, and their contributions should be clearly defined.

Ethical approval

For all studies involving individuals or medical records, approval from a duly appointed research ethics committee is necessary. The research protocol should adhere strictly to the international standards such as those of the Council for International Medical Science Organizations.[ 6 ]

When human tissues or body fluids have been collected for one project for which ethical authorization and consent has been obtained, these preserved specimens cannot be used again without further permission. It should be presumed that no author can publish research of humans or animals that do not follow the ethical standards of the country where the article is published.[ 2 ]

Data analysis

The data analysis methodology should be clearly stated in the protocol. The variations such as post hoc analysis or data omission should be agreed upon and reported in the paper by all investigators.[ 7 ] The capacity for manipulating data electronically now is enormous. Original images should always be retained and any alteration should be revealed.

The International Committee of Medical Editors (the Vancouver Group) has developed authorship guidelines that allow each writer to make a substantial contribution throughout the process.[ 8 ] In the past honorary authorship had been employed widely. However, the concept that the professor or department head should inevitably find his/her way to a paper is no longer acceptable. Each contributor should be able to mention clearly how they took part in the study. Each author must take public responsibility for the work published in the journal, and it is desirable to have one senior author, to serve as a guarantor. Participation in fundraising, data collection, or general supervision of the research is insufficient for authorship. Authorship acknowledgment should be based on substantial contributions to: (1) concept and design, (2) interpretation of data, (3) drafts and critical revisions of intellectual content, and (4) final approval of the version to be published.[ 2 ]

There is a possible conflict of interest when an investigator, writer, publisher, or reviewer has a financial, personal interest, or opinion that may impair their objectivity, or improperly influence their behavior. Financial ties are the most visible competing interests. As a result of personal relationships, academic rivalry, and intellectual zeal, competing interests can also exist. Competing interests are not unethical as long as they are revealed. They should be disclosed to the ethics committee and to the editor of the journal to which a article is submitted.


Peer review is the method used to evaluate the quality of articles submitted to a journal. COPE has developed ethical guidelines for peer reviewers.[ 9 ] The affiliation between the author, the editor, and the peer reviewer is a confidential collaboration. It is only with the editor's permission the manuscript should be passed on to a colleague or other individuals. A reviewer or editor should not use the information contained in the paper for their benefit.[ 2 ] Journals should have clearly defined and communicated policies on the type of peer review used, for example, single-blinded, double-blinded, open, or postpublication.[ 10 ] Peer reviewers can play a vital function in figuring out data fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, image manipulation, unethical research, biased reporting, authorship abuse, redundant or duplicate publication, and undeclared conflicts of interest.[ 11 ]


Editors are the wardens of the scientific literature and are responsible for maintaining high research and publishing ethics standards. There may be competing interests among participants, and it is the responsibility of the editor to ensure that they do not affect the journal. They should not be hesitant to publish work that challenges previously published studies in their journal, and they should not reject studies with negative results.[ 2 ] Editors must act promptly if a published paper is found to have publication misconduct.[ 12 ]


Research misconduct represents a spectrum ranging from the errors of judgment (mistakes made in good faith) to deliberate fraud, usually categorized as fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism.[ 13 ]

Falsification is the changing or omission of research results (data) or manipulation of images or representations in a manner that distorts the data to support claims or hypotheses.[ 13 ]

Fabrication is the construction or addition of data, observations, or characterizations that never occurred in the gathering of data or running of experiments.[ 13 ]

Plagiarism is the use of another individual or group's published work or unpublished ideas, language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions and makes the representation of them as one's original work.[ 14 ] The advent of digital material and its ease of accessibility have accelerated the use of plagiarism.[ 15 ] In some instances, plagiarism is used as a tool to cover up language problems for those whom English is not their first language. Where language is a problem, the authors should always be encouraged to obtain help in preparing their manuscript and not resort to using other people's words. It is unacceptable to republish a paper with minor changes, without referring to the primary publication, and to present it to the readership as a new source.[ 16 ]


Redundant publication (sometimes referred to as duplicate or triplicate publication) is the term used when two or more papers that overlap in a significant way are published in different journals without cross-reference.[ 17 ] It is not uncommon for two or more papers involving the same or similar patient database to be published in sequence. The authors should disclose this to the editor and make a cross-reference to previous papers. It is permissible to publish a paper in another language as long as this is disclosed.

Motives for misconduct

The motives why investigators fabricate records are not understood. Improving understanding of why researchers commit misconduct and detrimental research practices (DRPs) is essential. A range of possible reasons are: (1) career and funding pressures, (2) institutional failures of oversight, (3) commercial conflicts of interest, (4) inadequate training, (5) erosion of standards of mentoring, and (6) part of a larger pattern of social deviance.[ 18 ]

Prevention of misconduct

The widespread nature of research and publication misconduct indicates that existing control measures are inadequate. Enhanced methods for detecting misconduct are required. Even if research policing were made more effective, the fundamental question of why certain individuals violate their duties as a scientist or medical researcher intentionally or unintentionally would not be addressed. Clear guidance on ethics should be emphasized during research training in all institutions actively involved in research.[ 19 ] Training is a crucial step in avoiding publication misconduct. All researchers should be presented with organizational guidance and publishing ethics when they join a new organization. Misconduct in the study may be more common when investigators are alone with an inadequate review of data by a project supervisor. Research integrity depends on excellent communication between contributors, with frequent discussion of project progress and openness to any difficulties in adhering to the research protocol. Everyone should agree with the changes to the protocol. Maintaining documents must be of the highest quality. The law requires data and photographic record of experimental results to be maintained for 15 years. The records of laboratory experiments should be held in the department where the study is carried out and should be available for review for at least 15 years.

Strategies to support research integrity

  • Ensure policies governing academic research not only are in place but are followed
  • Enforce expectations for process rigor
  • Communicate expectations for accurate accounting of time spent on research activities
  • Evaluate the grant accounting function
  • Establish an office of research integrity.[ 20 ]


Accurate and ethical reporting is crucial to the quality of scientific research that is published. Unethical practices such as falsification of data and plagiarism cause long-term damage to the dependability of published literature. Whilst such practices do still exist, these can be prevented by having robust institutional ethical processes in place, regular training, and editorial vigilance.

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Conflicts of interest.

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Understanding Scientific and Research Ethics

research ethics research paper

How to pass journal ethics checks to ensure a smooth submission and publication process

Reputable journals screen for ethics at submission—and inability to pass ethics checks is one of the most common reasons for rejection. Unfortunately, once a study has begun, it’s often too late to secure the requisite ethical reviews and clearances. Learn how to prepare for publication success by ensuring your study meets all ethical requirements before work begins.

The underlying principles of scientific and research ethics

Scientific and research ethics exist to safeguard human rights, ensure that we treat animals respectfully and humanely, and protect the natural environment.

The specific details may vary widely depending on the type of research you’re conducting, but there are clear themes running through all research and reporting ethical requirements:

Documented 3rd party oversight

  • Consent and anonymity
  • Full transparency

If you fulfill each of these broad requirements, your manuscript should sail through any journal’s ethics check.

research ethics research paper

If your research is 100% theoretical, you might be able to skip this one. But if you work with living organisms in any capacity—whether you’re administering a survey, collecting data from medical records, culturing cells, working with zebrafish, or counting plant species in a ring—oversight and approval by an ethics committee is a prerequisite for publication. This oversight can take many different forms:

For human studies and studies using human tissue or cells, obtain approval from your institutional review board (IRB). Register clinical trials with the World Health Organization (WHO) or International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). For animal research consult with your institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC). Note that there may be special requirements for non-human primates, cephalopods, and other specific species, as well as for wild animals. For field studies , anthropology and paleontology , the type of permission required will depend on many factors, like the location of the study, whether the site is publicly or privately owned, possible impacts on endangered or protected species, and local permit requirements. 

TIP: You’re not exempt until your committee tells you so

Even if you think your study probably doesn’t require approval, submit it to the review board anyway. Many journals won’t consider retrospective approvals. Obtaining formal approval or an exemption up front is worth it to ensure your research is eligible for publication in the future.

TIP: Keep your committee records close

Clearly label your IRB/IACUC paperwork, permit numbers, and any participant permission forms (including blank copies), and keep them in a safe place. You will need them when you submit to a journal. Providing these details proactively as part of your initial submission can minimize delays and get your manuscript through journal checks and into the hands of reviewers sooner.

Consent & anonymity

Obtaining consent from human subjects.

You may not conduct research on human beings unless the subjects understand what you are doing and agree to be a part of your study. If you work with human subjects, you must obtain informed written consent from the participants or their legal guardians. 

There are many circumstances where extra care may be required in order to obtain consent. The more vulnerable the population you are working with the stricter these guidelines will be. For example, your IRB may have special requirements for working with minors, the elderly, or developmentally delayed participants. Remember that these rules may vary from country to country. Providing a link to the relevant legal reference in your area can help speed the screening and approval process.

TIP: What if you are working with a population where reading and writing aren’t common?

Alternatives to written consent (such as verbal consent or a thumbprint) are acceptable in some cases, but consent still has to be clearly documented. To ensure eligibility for publication, be sure to:

  • Get IRB approval for obtaining verbal rather than written consent
  • Be prepared to explain why written consent could not be obtained
  • Keep a copy of the script you used to obtain this consent, and record when consent was obtained for your own records

Consent and reporting for human tissue and cell lines

Consent from the participant or their next-of-kin is also required for the use of human tissue and cell lines. This includes discarded tissue, for example the by-products of surgery.  

When working with cell lines transparency and good record keeping are essential. Here are some basic guidelines to bear in mind:

  • When working with established cell lines , cite the published article where the cell line was first described.
  • If you’re using repository or commercial cell lines ,  explain exactly which ones, and provide the catalog or repository number. 
  • If you received a cell line from a colleague , rather than directly from a repository or company, be sure to mention it. Explain who gifted the cells and when.
  • For a new cell line obtained from a colleague there may not be a published article to cite yet, but the work to generate the cell line must meet the usual requirements of consent—even if it was carried out by another research group. You’ll need to provide a copy of your colleagues’ IRB approval and details about the consent procedures in order to publish the work.

Finally, you’re obliged to keep your human subjects anonymous and to protect any identifying information in photos and raw data. Remove all names, birth dates, detailed addresses, or job information from files you plan to share. Blur faces and tattoos in any images. Details such as geography (city/country), gender, age, or profession may be shared at a generalized level and in aggregate. Read more about standards for de-identifying datasets in The BMJ .

TIP: Anonymity can be important in field work too

Be careful about revealing geographic data in fieldwork. You don’t want to tip poachers off to the location of the endangered elephant population you studied, or expose petroglyphs to vandalism.

Full Transparency

No matter the discipline, transparent reporting of methods, results, data, software and code is essential to ethical research practice. Transparency is also key to the future reproducibility of your work.

When you submit your study to a journal, you’ll be asked to provide a variety of statements certifying that you’ve obtained the appropriate permissions and clearances, and explaining how you conducted the work. You may also be asked to provide supporting documentation, including field records and raw data. Provide as much detail as you can at this stage. Clear and complete disclosure statements will minimize back-and-forth with the journal, helping your submission to clear ethics checks and move on to the assessment stage sooner.

TIP: Save that data

As you work, be sure to clearly label and organize your data files in a way that will make sense to you later. As close as you are to the work as you conduct your study, remember that two years could easily pass between capturing your data and publishing an article reporting the results. You don’t want to be stuck piecing together confusing records in order to create figures and data files for repositories.

Read our full guide to preparing data for submission .

Keep in mind that scientific and research ethics are always evolving. As laws change and as we learn more about influence, implicit bias and animal sentience, the scientific community continues to strive to elevate our research practice.

A checklist to ensure you’re ethics-check ready

Before you begin your research

Obtain approval from your IRB, IACUC or other approving body

Obtain written informed consent from human participants, guardians or next-of-kin

Obtain permits or permission from property owners, or confirm that permits are not required

Label and save all of records

As you work

Adhere strictly to the protocols approved by your committee

Clearly label your data, and store it in a way that will make sense to your future self

As you write, submit and deposit your results

Be ready to cite specific approval organizations, permit numbers, cell lines, and other details in your ethics statement and in the methods section of your manuscript

Anonymize all participant data (including human and in some cases animal or geographic data)

If a figure does include identifying information (e.g. a participant’s face) obtain special consent

The contents of the Peer Review Center are also available as a live, interactive training session, complete with slides, talking points, and activities. …

The contents of the Writing Center are also available as a live, interactive training session, complete with slides, talking points, and activities. …

There’s a lot to consider when deciding where to submit your work. Learn how to choose a journal that will help your study reach its audience, while reflecting your values as a researcher…

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Introduction: What is Research Ethics?

Research Ethics is defined here to be the ethics of the planning, conduct, and reporting of research. This introduction covers what research ethics is, its ethical distinctions, approaches to teaching research ethics, and other resources on this topic.

What is Research Ethics

Why Teach Research Ethics

Animal Subjects



Conflicts of Interest

Data Management

Human Subjects

Peer Review


Research Misconduct

Social Responsibility

Stem Cell Research


Descriptions of educational settings , including in the classroom, and in research contexts.

Case Studies

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Information about the history and authors of the Resources for Research Ethics Collection

What is 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:

  • Protections of human and animal subjects

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:

  • Collection, use, and interpretation of research data
  • Methods for reporting and reviewing research plans or findings
  • Relationships among researchers with one another
  • Relationships between researchers and those that will be affected by their research
  • Means for responding to misunderstandings, disputes, or misconduct
  • Options for promoting ethical conduct in research

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.

  • It is important not to confuse moral claims about how people ought to behave with descriptive claims about how they in fact do behave. From the fact that gift authorship or signing off on un-reviewed data may be "common practice" in some contexts, it doesn't follow that they are morally or professionally justified. Nor is morality to be confused with the moral beliefs or ethical codes that a given group or society holds (how some group thinks people should live). A belief in segregation is not morally justified simply because it is widely held by a group of people or given society. Philosophers term this distinction between prescriptive and descriptive claims the 'is-ought distinction.'  
  • A second important distinction is that between morality and the law. The law may or may not conform to the demands of ethics (Kagan, 1998). To take a contemporary example: many believe that the law prohibiting federally funded stem cell research is objectionable on moral (as well as scientific) grounds, i.e., that such research can save lives and prevent much human misery. History is full of examples of bad laws, that is laws now regarded as morally unjustifiable, e.g., the laws of apartheid, laws prohibiting women from voting or inter-racial couples from marrying.  
  • It is also helpful to distinguish between two different levels of discussion (or two different kinds of ethical questions): first-order or "ground-level" questions and second-order questions.  
  • First-order moral questions concern what we should do. Such questions may be very general or quite specific. One might ask whether the tradition of 'senior' authorship should be defended and preserved or, more generally, what are the principles that should go into deciding the issue of 'senior' authorship. Such questions and the substantive proposals regarding how to answer them belong to the domain of what moral philosophers call 'normative ethics.'  
  • Second-order moral questions concern the nature and purpose of morality itself. When someone claims that falsifying data is wrong, what exactly is the standing of this claim? What exactly does the word 'wrong' mean in the conduct of scientific research? And what are we doing when we make claims about right and wrong, scientific integrity and research misconduct? These second-order questions are quite different from the ground-level questions about how to conduct one's private or professional life raised above. They concern the nature of morality rather than its content, i.e., what acts are required, permitted or prohibited. This is the domain of what moral philosophers call 'metaethics' (Kagan, 1998).

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.

  • One of the most influential and familiar approaches to ethics is deontological ethics, associated with Immanuel Kant (1742-1804). Deontological ethics hold certain acts as right or wrong in themselves, e.g., promise breaking or lying. So, for example, in the context of research, fraud, plagiarism and misrepresentation are regarded as morally wrong in themselves, not simply because they (tend to) have bad consequences. The deontological approach is generally grounded in a single fundamental principle: Act as you would wish others to act towards you OR always treat persons as an end, never as a means to an end.  
  • From such central principles are derived rules or guidelines for what is permitted, required and prohibited. Objections to principle-based or deontological ethics include the difficulty of applying highly general principles to specific cases, e.g.: Does treating persons as ends rule out physician-assisted suicide, or require it? Deontological ethics is generally contrasted to consequentialist ethics (Honderich, 1995).  
  • According to consequentialist approaches, the rightness or wrongness of an action depends solely on its consequences. One should act in such a way as to bring about the best state of affairs, where the best state of affairs may be understood in various ways, e.g., as the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people, maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain or maximizing the satisfaction of preferences. A theory such as Utilitarianism (with its roots in the work of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill) is generally taken as the paradigm example of consequentialism. Objections to consequentialist ethics tend to focus on its willingness to regard individual rights and values as "negotiable." So, for example, most people would regard murder as wrong independently of the fact that killing one person might allow several others to be saved (the infamous sacrifice of an ailing patient to provide organs for several other needy patients). Similarly, widespread moral opinion holds certain values important (integrity, justice) not only because they generally lead to good outcomes, but in and of themselves.
  • Virtue ethics focuses on moral character rather than action and behavior considered in isolation. Central to this approach is the question what ought we (as individuals, as scientists, as physicians) to be rather than simply what we ought to do. The emphasis here is on inner states, that is, moral dispositions and habits such as courage or a developed sense of personal integrity. Virtue ethics can be a useful approach in the context of RCR and professional ethics, emphasizing the importance of moral virtues such as compassion, honesty, and respect. This approach has also a great deal to offer in discussions of bioethical issues where a traditional emphasis on rights and abstract principles frequently results in polarized, stalled discussions (e.g., abortion debates contrasting the rights of the mother against the rights of the fetus).  
  • The term 'an ethics of care' grows out of the work of Carol Gilligan, whose empirical work in moral psychology claimed to discover a "different voice," a mode of moral thinking distinct from principle-based moral thinking (e.g., the theories of Kant and Mill). An ethics of care stresses compassion and empathetic understanding, virtues Gilligan associated with traditional care-giving roles, especially those of women.  
  • This approach differs from traditional moral theories in two important ways. First, it assumes that it is the connections between persons, e.g., lab teams, colleagues, parents and children, student and mentor, not merely the rights and obligations of discrete individuals that matter. The moral world, on this view, is best seen not as the interaction of discrete individuals, each with his or her own interests and rights, but as an interrelated web of obligations and commitment. We interact, much of the time, not as private individuals, but as members of families, couples, institutions, research groups, a given profession and so on. Second, these human relationships, including relationships of dependency, play a crucial role on this account in determining what our moral obligations and responsibilities are. So, for example, individuals have special responsibilities to care for their children, students, patients, and research subjects.  
  • An ethics of care is thus particularly useful in discussing human and animal subjects research, issues of informed consent, and the treatment of vulnerable populations such as children, the infirm or the ill.  
  • The case study approach begins from real or hypothetical cases. Its objective is to identify the intuitively plausible principles that should be taken into account in resolving the issues at hand. The case study approach then proceeds to critically evaluate those principles. In discussing whistle-blowing, for example, a good starting point is with recent cases of research misconduct, seeking to identify and evaluate principles such as a commitment to the integrity of science, protecting privacy, or avoiding false or unsubstantiated charges. In the context of RCR instruction, case studies provide one of the most interesting and effective approaches to developing sensitivity to ethical issues and to honing ethical decision-making skills.  
  • Strictly speaking, casuistry is more properly understood as a method for doing ethics rather than as itself an ethical theory. However, casuistry is not wholly unconnected to ethical theory. The need for a basis upon which to evaluate competing principles, e.g., the importance of the well-being of an individual patient vs. a concern for just allocation of scarce medical resources, makes ethical theory relevant even with case study approaches.  
  • Applied ethics is a branch of normative ethics. It deals with practical questions particularly in relation to the professions. Perhaps the best known area of applied ethics is bioethics, which deals with ethical questions arising in medicine and the biological sciences, e.g., questions concerning the application of new areas of technology (stem cells, cloning, genetic screening, nanotechnology, etc.), end of life issues, organ transplants, and just distribution of healthcare. Training in responsible conduct of research or "research ethics" is merely one among various forms of professional ethics that have come to prominence since the 1960s. Worth noting, however, is that concern with professional ethics is not new, as ancient codes such as the Hippocratic Oath and guild standards attest (Singer, 1986).
  • Adams D, Pimple KD (2005): Research Misconduct and Crime: Lessons from Criminal Science on Preventing Misconduct and Promoting Integrity. Accountability in Research 12(3):225-240.
  • Anderson MS, Horn AS, Risbey KR, Ronning EA, De Vries R, Martinson BC (2007): What Do Mentoring and Training in the Responsible Conduct of Research Have To Do with Scientists' Misbehavior? Findings from a National Survey of NIH-Funded Scientists . Academic Medicine 82(9):853-860.
  • Bulger RE, Heitman E (2007): Expanding Responsible Conduct of Research Instruction across the University. Academic Medicine. 82(9):876-878.
  • Kalichman MW (2006): Ethics and Science: A 0.1% solution. Issues in Science and Technology 23:34-36.
  • Kalichman MW (2007): Responding to Challenges in Educating for the Responsible Conduct of Research, Academic Medicine. 82(9):870-875.
  • Kalichman MW, Plemmons DK (2007): Reported Goals for Responsible Conduct of Research Courses. Academic Medicine. 82(9):846-852.
  • Kalichman MW (2009): Evidence-based research ethics. The American Journal of Bioethics 9(6&7): 85-87.
  • Pimple KD (2002): Six Domains of Research Ethics: A Heuristic Framework for the Responsible Conduct of Research. Science and Engineering Ethics 8(2):191-205.
  • Steneck NH (2006): Fostering Integrity in Research: Definitions, Current Knowledge, and Future Directions. Science and Engineering Ethics 12:53-74.
  • Steneck NH, Bulger RE (2007): The History, Purpose, and Future of Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research. Academic Medicine. 82(9):829-834.
  • Vasgird DR (2007): Prevention over Cure: The Administrative Rationale for Education in the Responsible Conduct of Research. Academic Medicine. 82(9):835-837.
  • Aristotle. The Nichomachean Ethics.
  • Beauchamp RL, Childress JF (2001): Principles of Biomedical Ethics, 5th edition, NY: Oxford University Press.
  • Bentham, J (1781): An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation.
  • Gilligan C (1993): In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Glover, Jonathan (1977): Penguin Books.
  • Honderich T, ed. (1995): The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Kagan S (1998): Normative Ethics. Westview Press.
  • Kant I (1785): Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals.
  • Kant I (1788): Critique of Practical Reason.
  • Kant I (1797): The Metaphysics of Morals.
  • Kant I (1797): On a Supposed right to Lie from Benevolent Motives.
  • Kuhse H, Singer P (1999): Bioethics: An Anthology. Blackwell Publishers.
  • Mill JS (1861): Utilitarianism.
  • Rachels J (1999): The Elements of Moral Philosophy, 3rd edition, Boston: McGraw-Hill.
  • Regan T (1993): Matters of Life and Death: New Introductory Essays in Moral Philosophy, 3rd edition. New York: McGraw-Hill. The history of ethics.
  • Singer P (1993): Practical Ethics, 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press.

The Resources for Research Ethics Education site was originally developed and maintained by Dr. Michael Kalichman, Director of the Research Ethics Program at the University of California San Diego. The site was transferred to the Online Ethics Center in 2021 with the permission of the author.

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Award No. 2055332. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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Title: human participants in ai research: ethics and transparency in practice.

Abstract: In recent years, research involving human participants has been critical to advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), particularly in the areas of conversational, human-compatible, and cooperative AI. For example, around 12% and 6% of publications at recent AAAI and NeurIPS conferences indicate the collection of original human data, respectively. Yet AI and ML researchers lack guidelines for ethical, transparent research practices with human participants. Fewer than one out of every four of these AAAI and NeurIPS papers provide details of ethical review, the collection of informed consent, or participant compensation. This paper aims to bridge this gap by exploring normative similarities and differences between AI research and related fields that involve human participants. Though psychology, human-computer interaction, and other adjacent fields offer historic lessons and helpful insights, AI research raises several specific concerns$\unicode{x2014}$namely, participatory design, crowdsourced dataset development, and an expansive role of corporations$\unicode{x2014}$that necessitate a contextual ethics framework. To address these concerns, this paper outlines a set of guidelines for ethical and transparent practice with human participants in AI and ML research. These guidelines can be found in Section 4 on pp. 4$\unicode{x2013}$7.

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Ethical Research Practices For Research with Human Subjects

Ethical Research Practices For Research with Human Subjects

Research that involves human subjects can be a delicate and complex matter that requires meticulous attention to ethical research practices. However, this wasn’t always the case; a few decades ago, researchers were not required to take consent from human subjects. This changed in 1947, when the Nuremburg Code laid the blueprint that ensured the rights of subjects in medical research. This was followed by the Belmont Report and the Declaration of Helsinki that emphasised the need for the protection of human subjects and the importance of following ethical research practices. Today, conducting bio-medical and scientific research with human subjects involves adhering to prescribed ethical research principles set by individual countries and their regulatory bodies. In this article, we will explore the importance of ethical research practices, and what researchers should keep in mind to meet global standards when conducting research with human participants.

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Upholding human dignity, ensuring unbiased selection, safeguarding participant welfare, guaranteeing the validity of research, building public trust, 9 ethical research practices for researchers, importance of ethical research practices.

Ethical research methods ensure that researchers do not exploit the vulnerability of their subjects, and that all necessary precautions are taken to prevent harm. Following ethical research practices is also essential to protect the reputation and credibility of researchers and their institutions.

The basic ethical research principle is the preservation of human dignity. It demands that researchers treat each participant with respect, acknowledging their autonomy and individuality. While it can be easy to treat them impersonally as subjects for your experiments, be mindful that they are humans and must be treated with respect, including ensuring consent, confidentiality, and the right to withdraw.

Research ethics extends beyond individual interactions to address systemic issues of fairness and justice. Researchers are expected to consider potential biases and ensure inclusivity in their participant selection. Ethical research practices demands there be no discrimination based on gender, race, or any other characteristic.

Ethical research methods prioritize the welfare of human subjects and researchers are obligated to minimize potential harm and maximize benefits. Here, rigorous risk assessment and risk-reduction strategies are crucial components. For instance, if a medical study involves experimental treatments, careful monitoring and ethical oversight are mandatory to safeguard participants’ health.

Ethical research practices are not just about ethics; they are also about the quality and validity of research outcomes. When ethical principles are upheld, it enhances the credibility of the research, which is then more likely to be trusted and accepted by the scientific community and society at large.

Amid rampant skepticism and misinformation, demonstrating a commitment to ethical research practices can help researchers gain the trust of the public, funding agencies, and regulatory bodies. This trust is essential for the continued advancement of scientific knowledge.

It is crucial for researchers to adhere to ethical research practices to ensure that their work is not only scientifically valid but also socially responsible. The ultimate driving factor should be to ensure the well-being and rights of participants and this can be achieved with proper planning. Here are some key professional, institutional, and global standards that researchers must keep in mind and follow while conducting ethical research with human participants.

  • Understand ethical research guidelines: Researchers must know and follow the ethical research principles set by organizations, such as the American Psychological Association (APA) or the World Medical Association (WMA). Researchers must also get the required approvals from Institutional Review Boards, which assess the ethical aspects of the research, ensuring that participants are adequately protected.
  • Lay down participant criteria: The criteria for selecting participants must be very specific and clearly laid out and researchers should strictly follow these without any dilution. This ethical research practice ensures that there is no deviation or bias in the selection of volunteers, which could impact the outcome of the research.
  • Clarify recruitment and participant criteria: During the recruitment of participants, researchers must clearly mention that the research process is experimental. One should avoid making undue promises of positive outcomes of an experiment. Researchers must ensure that participants have a clear understanding of the nature and purpose of the research, as well as the risks and benefits of participation. Participants must be free to make an informed decision to participate in the research voluntarily.
  • Ensure informed consent: One of the most important things that researchers need to ensure when conducting experiments involving human subjects is to take their consent without deception or coercion. A formal consent form examined and approved by an Ethics Committee or Institutional Review Board must be completed by the volunteer before they can participate in any study. This is to ensure that the research teams and the participants’ needs are in agreement. These consent forms also have information on rights of withdrawal and how volunteers should be paid for their participation in the research experiment.
  • Avoid deceptive practices: There may be instances where the researcher may not be in a position to reveal the exact nature of the experiments being conducted or where the volunteers are not aware of the purpose of the research. This happens mostly in cases where such acts will result in altering the phenomena under study. In these cases, an ethical research practice is to mention this in advance and justify the same.
  • Take necessary precautions: Sometimes experiments may involve an element of risk, which can involve physical or psychological distress and discomfort, and an intrusion into volunteer privacy. However, when conducting experiments using ethical research methods, researchers must take all precautions and strive to mitigate any potential harm to participants.
  • Monitor experiments: While you may have taken the necessary precautions, it is critical that the participants’ status be monitored during the course of the experiment. Along with looking at the progress of the experiment, the focus here is to see if the participants are facing any harm or discomfort and to act to mitigate these risks at the earliest possible instance.
  • Maintain confidentiality: Ensuring the volunteer’s confidentiality and anonymity is an important ethical research practice. Researchers must safeguard the privacy of volunteers and ensure that their personal details are not disclosed without their consent. This can be done by storing data securely to prevent unauthorized access and by using pseudonyms or codes to protect participants’ identities.
  • Acknowledge their right to leave: Researchers should be aware that experiments involving human subjects entail an important condition, that is, the right to withdraw. This important ethical research principle gives volunteers the right to walk out at any stage in the research process. If volunteers choose to walk away from the study, researchers must know that they cannot be enforced or pressurized to participate under any condition.

Finally, it’s critical to understand that ethical research practices are not optional. Researchers must ensure their research design and methodology are sound, that any potential conflicts of interest are identified and managed appropriately, and that the study is conducted in an unbiased and transparent manner. By embracing ethical research methods and principles, researchers contribute to the advancement of knowledge while safeguarding the rights and well-being of those who participate in their studies.

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Professional Ethics Research Paper Topics

This page provides a comprehensive list of professional ethics research paper topics , offering students studying ethics a valuable resource for their academic endeavors. Delve into the diverse world of professional ethics, explore its significance, and discover a wide array of research paper topics that can enrich your studies. Whether you seek to understand the ethical dimensions of various professions or wish to analyze ethical challenges in professional settings, this page is your gateway to a wealth of knowledge in the field of professional ethics. Additionally, learn about the writing services offered by iResearchNet, which can help you excel in your research paper assignments. Explore this page and take the first step toward crafting a compelling research paper on professional ethics.

100 Professional Ethics Research Paper Topics

Professional ethics stands as a cornerstone in the realm of ethical studies, guiding individuals and organizations toward responsible and morally sound conduct within their respective fields. It is through the lens of professional ethics that we scrutinize the behavior, values, and dilemmas that arise within various professions. This page provides an invaluable resource for students delving into the intricate world of professional ethics. By exploring the extensive list of research paper topics curated here, you will gain insights into the ethical dimensions of diverse professions and the challenges they face. Through in-depth analysis and critical examination, you can contribute to the ongoing discourse on professional ethics. Dive into this comprehensive collection, and discover the myriad topics awaiting exploration in this vital field.

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Healthcare Professions

  • Ethical considerations in organ transplantation.
  • The role of confidentiality in healthcare ethics.
  • Medical malpractice and professional responsibility.
  • Bioethical dilemmas in end-of-life care.
  • Ethical implications of pharmaceutical marketing.
  • Mental health professionals’ duty to protect confidentiality.
  • Patient autonomy and decision-making in medical ethics.
  • Ethical challenges in clinical trials and research.
  • Ethics of healthcare resource allocation.
  • Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide debates.

Legal and Judicial Professions

  • Legal ethics and attorney-client privilege.
  • Judicial impartiality and the rule of law.
  • Ethical dilemmas in criminal defense.
  • Professional ethics in corporate law.
  • Judges’ recusal and conflicts of interest.
  • Prosecutorial misconduct and accountability.
  • The role of ethics in alternative dispute resolution.
  • Legal ethics in the age of technology.
  • The death penalty and ethical considerations.
  • Ethical issues in international human rights law.

Business and Corporate Ethics

  • Corporate social responsibility and ethical business practices.
  • Workplace ethics and employee rights.
  • Ethical dimensions of business advertising.
  • The role of whistleblowers in corporate ethics.
  • Environmental ethics in business and sustainability.
  • Ethics in international business negotiations.
  • Leadership ethics and the impact on organizational culture.
  • Ethical considerations in outsourcing and globalization.
  • Corporate governance and ethical decision-making.
  • Business ethics in the digital age.

Journalism and Media Ethics

  • Ethical challenges in reporting on sensitive topics.
  • Journalistic objectivity and the pursuit of truth.
  • The role of ethics in photojournalism and image manipulation.
  • Media ownership and its implications for journalistic ethics.
  • The impact of social media on ethical journalism.
  • Whistleblowing in the media industry.
  • Ethical considerations in celebrity reporting.
  • Censorship, freedom of the press, and ethical dilemmas.
  • Conflict of interest in journalism.
  • Privacy issues in the digital media era.

Education and Academic Ethics

  • Plagiarism and academic integrity.
  • Ethical issues in student-teacher relationships.
  • The role of ethics in academic publishing.
  • Educational equity and ethical considerations.
  • Ethical dilemmas in standardized testing.
  • Academic freedom and its ethical boundaries.
  • The ethics of diversity and inclusion in education.
  • Ethics in research involving human subjects.
  • Student rights and educational ethics.
  • The ethics of technology in the classroom.

Engineering and Technology Ethics

  • Ethical considerations in artificial intelligence development.
  • Privacy concerns in the digital age.
  • The impact of automation on job ethics.
  • Environmental ethics in engineering and technology.
  • Ethical dilemmas in genetic engineering.
  • Cybersecurity and ethical responsibilities.
  • Ethical dimensions of autonomous vehicles.
  • Intellectual property and technology ethics.
  • Ethical issues in biotechnology research.
  • The role of ethics in software development.

Social Work and Counseling Ethics

  • Ethical principles in counseling and psychotherapy.
  • Confidentiality and informed consent in counseling.
  • Ethical challenges in child welfare services.
  • The intersection of spirituality and counseling ethics.
  • Cultural competence and ethical practice in social work.
  • Ethical considerations in addiction counseling.
  • Dual relationships in therapeutic settings.
  • The ethics of mental health advocacy.
  • Social justice and ethical social work practice.
  • Ethical issues in gerontology and elder care.

Environmental Ethics

  • Conservation ethics and wildlife protection.
  • Climate change ethics and global responsibility.
  • Environmental justice and ethics.
  • Ethical dimensions of sustainable agriculture.
  • The ethics of natural resource management.
  • Biodiversity preservation and ethical considerations.
  • Pollution control and environmental ethics.
  • Eco-friendly technology and ethical innovation.
  • Corporate responsibility for environmental ethics.
  • Ethical considerations in eco-tourism.

Military and Defense Ethics

  • The ethics of military intervention and just war theory.
  • Soldiers’ moral responsibilities in combat.
  • Ethical dilemmas in intelligence operations.
  • The use of drones and unmanned warfare ethics.
  • Cyber warfare and its ethical implications.
  • Military leadership ethics and responsibility.
  • Ethical considerations in nuclear deterrence.
  • War crimes, accountability, and international law.
  • The ethics of humanitarian assistance in conflict zones.
  • Military ethics in the digital age.

Public Service and Government Ethics

  • Public officials’ duty to uphold the law and ethical conduct.
  • Corruption, transparency, and government ethics.
  • Whistleblowing and ethics in public service.
  • Ethical dimensions of public health policy.
  • Ethical challenges in international diplomacy.
  • Accountability and ethical governance.
  • The role of ethics in disaster management.
  • Ethical considerations in intelligence agencies.
  • Lobbying, special interests, and government ethics.
  • Ethical issues in public-private partnerships.

The compilation above represents merely a fraction of the vast landscape of research paper topics within professional ethics. As you delve into these categories, you’ll find that professional ethics transcends specific vocations, touching on fundamental principles of responsibility, integrity, and accountability. By exploring these topics, students can gain a deeper understanding of the ethical considerations that underpin various professions and industries. From healthcare to journalism, from business to environmental preservation, professional ethics plays a pivotal role in shaping our society.

The Range of Professional Ethics Research Paper Topics


Professional ethics is a cornerstone of ethical studies, offering a compass to navigate the complex terrain of our working lives. As students delve into the world of ethical research, they encounter the multifaceted domain of professional ethics. This page serves as a gateway to exploring the ethical considerations that underpin various vocations and industries, providing a rich tapestry of research paper topics to explore.

Exploring Professional Ethics

Professional ethics, nestled within the larger field of applied ethics, plays a pivotal role in guiding the moral conduct of individuals and organizations in diverse professions. At its core, it seeks to bridge the gap between theoretical ethical principles and the practical realities encountered in professional life.

In various fields, ethical considerations are woven into the fabric of daily practice. For instance, healthcare professionals grapple with dilemmas related to patient autonomy, confidentiality, and end-of-life decisions. Journalists strive to balance the pursuit of truth with concerns regarding privacy and sensitivity. Business leaders navigate the intricate interplay of corporate social responsibility and profit margins.

Research in professional ethics extends beyond academia, impacting real-world practices. By examining the ethical dimensions of specific professions, scholars and practitioners can contribute to the development of ethical guidelines, policies, and practices. Such research aids in addressing ethical challenges, fostering responsible conduct, and safeguarding the integrity of professions.

Range of Research Paper Topics

Professional ethics offers a diverse array of research paper topics that span different vocations and industries, each with its unique ethical considerations. These topics shed light on the moral dimensions of professions and are integral to ethical studies:

Within the expansive realm of professional ethics, students can explore topics ranging from the ethical dilemmas in organ transplantation to legal ethics and the attorney-client privilege. They can delve into corporate social responsibility in business ethics or investigate ethical challenges in reporting sensitive topics in journalism ethics.

Ethical dimensions are not confined to traditional professions. In the ever-evolving world of technology, the ethics of artificial intelligence development and privacy concerns in the digital age are pressing topics. Additionally, questions about conservation ethics and wildlife protection resonate in environmental ethics.

These are but a few examples of the vast landscape of professional ethics research paper topics. Whether you are drawn to the complexities of healthcare, the legal arena, business ethics, or any other profession, the study of professional ethics offers a captivating journey into the moral dimensions of our working lives.

In conclusion, professional ethics is an essential facet of ethical studies, guiding individuals and organizations to uphold principles of responsibility, integrity, and accountability within their respective professions. As students embark on their exploration of professional ethics research paper topics, they enter a realm where ethical principles are put to the test in real-world scenarios.

The breadth of topics within professional ethics mirrors the diversity of professions themselves. Each field presents unique ethical challenges and dilemmas, providing a fertile ground for ethical inquiry. Through rigorous research and thoughtful analysis, students and scholars have the opportunity to contribute to ethical frameworks that shape our society and professions.

We encourage you to delve into the ethical considerations of your chosen profession, for it is within this exploration that you will uncover insights, perspectives, and solutions that can lead to a more ethical and responsible world of work. Embrace the journey, and let your research on professional ethics illuminate the path toward ethical excellence in your chosen field.

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Ethical Research Paper Topics & Ideas 2023

Published 14 July 2021

Ethical Research Paper Topics & Ideas

Students are sometimes asked to write various types of research papers on ethics by professors. If you are also given such an assignment then free research topics on ethics are given below to solve your problem of writing these papers. Writing a good research paper does not require a good research paper hook in the first place but a unique and relevant research topic.

So forget about anything else about your paper and first focus on finding a good topic for research . The following list is going to be suitable for your purpose as all the topics are written after long research by experienced writers. The research material is also easily available on these topics for the graduates and thus thesis statements and other things can be written with ease.

Looking For Custom Research Topics & Ideas

Free list of ethical research paper topics for college and university students.

Here is a list of unique research paper ideas on ethics prepared for college and university students by the My Research Topics professionals. Just read it to the end and you will find a topic of your interest for sure.

  • Why it is important to follow ethics in every sphere of life?
  • What business ethics should be known to businesses before embarking upon a business?
  • What types of work ethics are crucial in different arenas and why follow them?
  • Role of ethics in medical science and how ethics affects the life of a surgeon.
  • What ethical issues are associated with the test tube baby and the surrogate mother in society?
  • How we can see ethics and society in two parallel forms supporting each other?
  • Change in the meaning of ethics with the change in geography and region.
  • How we can trace the origin of ethics and their importance in society?
  • How we can see the connection between ethics and racism in different countries?
  • Aspects that change the meaning of good or bad for a person with his upbringing.
  • What should be the role of ethics in running the command of a nation for leaders?
  • Is it fall under good ethics to get your face changed with makeup?
  • How the definition of good ethics and bad ethics is given by society?
  • The way by which the Bible defines the ethics and the consequences of not following the ethics.
  • Role of ethics in friendship? Do ethics exist in friendship as well?
  • Should see the children with special needs with different spectacles?
  • How a teacher can follow good ethics by not doing prejudice the students?
  • Why ethics plays a significant importance in the life of a doctor where a patient relies upon him completely?
  • Can we say that negative emotions are also a part of bad ethics?
  • How envy, wrath, hatred, and such things are associated with the poor ethical values of an individual?
  • Expression of ethics in different spiritual books that falls under the vivid range of religion.
  • What is the significance of ethics in games and how players should be motivated with good ethics only?
  • There should be a female bishop in the church according to the ethics of equality.
  • How sometimes moral values of a person clash with ethical values?
  • Out of our duties and ethics which should be given more importance?
  • How do manufacturing units also need to follow some ethics to stop providing adulterated goods to the people?
  • Can there be legal action on the people who are not following good ethics in their life?
  • Drug addiction and lack of ethical values in a person. Can compare the two things with each other?
  • Why do the inculcations of ethical values in an individual depend upon the values of his parents?
  • Reflection of the ethical values of a person from his social behavior.

A heavy load of assignments may not allow you to complete your research paper on ethics in college. Interesting Research Ideas for College Students are available from the My Research Topics. The quality of work is very high and the cost of writing assignments is rational and genuine.

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Top 100 Hot Ethics Research Paper Topics For Your Success

ethics research paper topics

When it comes to writing term papers, the first step is coming up with an appropriate topic. But this has proven to be a major challenge for learners. For students in ethics classes, selecting a topic for their assignments is more challenging because the subject is very wide. But you should no longer be worried of the ideas to write about because we have the best ethics essay topics for you in every category.

Table of Contents

Business ethics topics, environmental ethics topics, biomedical ethics topics, ethics topics in nursing, ethical dilemma topics, philosophy and ethics paper topics, easy ethical research topics, interesting ethics topics, how to select the best ethics paper topics.

  • Weighing business decision making and moral practices.
  • What are the main causes of unethical behaviors in the workplace?
  • Exploring the psychological roots of company ethics.
  • Personal integrity and its relationship to business ethics.
  • Ethics at work: How to make the best decisions at your workplace.
  • Ethical misteps: Can they result in bankruptcy?
  • Discussing the workplace ethical dilemmas today.
  • Are ethics for employees and managers different?
  • What are the best methods of avoiding sexual harassments at workplace?
  • A closer look at trade associations ethical codes.
  • What are the implications of teaching business ethics in college?
  • Exploring different cross-cultural business concerns.
  • What are the best methods for following good business rules at work?
  • Maintaining the perfect balance between pragmatics and ethics in business management.
  • Evaluating the environmental ethics of the US administration?
  • Should businesses be responsible for environmental protection?
  • Environmental policy and business ethics: A closer look at the EU administration.
  • What are the main concerns about the environment in business ethics?
  • Ethics of putting up residential buildings in fragile ecosystems.
  • Recreational environmental ethics: A closer look at the impacts of hunting.
  • Ethical analysis of climate change mitigation efforts.
  • Ethical analysis of commercial whaling.
  • What are the rights of different ecological entities (mountains, rivers, etc.)?
  • Are pollution trade-off programs ethically justified?
  • Good ethics vs bad ethics: What are the societal views?
  • Electrical cars can be used to save the planet.
  • Reading eBooks vs reading paper books.
  • Global warming ethics: The impacts on flora and fauna.
  • What is medical ethics? Why is it important?
  • Medical ethics application: Are they similar everywhere?
  • Analyzing the need for global ethics in the medical field.
  • When is it okay to end a patient’s life?
  • Analyzing the best methods of monitoring ethics application in medical fields.
  • Practicing medicine abroad: What are the ethical challenges?
  • What should doctors do when medical ethics are non-existent?
  • Medical ethics in Asia and Europe: How do they differ?
  • Pregnancy ethics: When can a medical practitioner have a patient arrested?
  • A closer look at the nursing theories: Which ones are more ethical?
  • How do medical ethics confront religious beliefs?
  • Exploring ethical behavior problems in medicine.
  • Vitamin supplements: Do they do more harm than good?
  • Analyzing ethical issues in nursing.
  • A closer look at the code of ethics in nursing.
  • Assisted suicide: Is it ethical for nurses to be involved?
  • A deeper look at psychiatric patient ethics.
  • The ethics of data collection: A closer look at the primary health care in the US.
  • Analyzing the ethics of abortion.
  • Ethics and homeless people treatment.
  • The ethics of medical sales related promotions.
  • The government should execute violent offenders.
  • Prostitution should be made illegal.
  • It is moral to eat the flesh of animals because they are living organisms.
  • Developed countries have the responsibility of hosting refugees from other nations.
  • Humans should move with speed to colonize other galaxies.
  • Parents who allow kids to use fat foods should be considered abusers.
  • Smoking moms should be prosecuted for endangering the lives of unborn kids.
  • It is impossible for all people to live all the time happily.
  • Are people enslaved by moral values?
  • What is the relationship between ethics and a person’s education?
  • Can we justify mass surveillance?
  • Is it ethical to have circuses?
  • Are the current laws ample to protect people from discrimination?
  • Evaluating the ethics behind cryptocurrencies.
  • How should ageism be tackled?
  • Can we justify feminism? Has it achieved its goals?
  • Differentiating between a moral and immoral problem.
  • What is a morally right action?
  • Explaining the term “moral responsibility”.
  • Should people act morally towards incarcerated people?
  • Analyzing psychological egoism.
  • Religious beliefs and modern youths.
  • What is the ethical thing to do if you witness bullying?
  • What ethics should every presidential candidate observe?
  • Changing face using makeups: Is it ethical?
  • What is the relationship between ethics and philosophy?
  • Exploring the characters of friendship ethics.
  • Tracing the origin of ethics.
  • What is the best way to punish teachers for prejudice?
  • Bible and ethics.
  • Analyzing poor ethical values: A closer look at hatred and envy.
  • What are the ethical implications of plastic surgery on teens?
  • Impact of smoking during pregnancy.
  • Should men and women have equal rights?
  • Ethics and technology: The impacts of tech advancements on youth.
  • Editing children genomes: Is it ethical?
  • Unethical organizational leadership: Evaluating the impacts.
  • The applicant of ethical principles.
  • Ethics of social media.
  • Genetically modified foods: Are they fit for human consumption?
  • What are the reasons that make students cheat on exams?
  • Should the church be separated from politics?
  • Should newspapers only report the good things?
  • How does social background shape a person’s ethical norms?
  • Should all people use the same moral code?
  • Is there a time when not speaking the truth is okay?
  • What is the impact of ethics on education?
  • What are the best ways to overcome jealousy?
  • What is the relationship between morality and happiness?
  • What are the primary causes of racial conflicts?
  • Desperate times call for desperate measures: Is this statement justified?

Now that we have listed the best ethics essay topics, you might still be wondering, “How do I narrow down to the ideal one?” Well, whether you are interested in medical ethics topics or sports ethics topics, make sure to go for the ideas that are:

  • Interesting.
  • Informative.

Seek Professional Writing Help

Armed with the best ethics essay topic, you are now set to start working on your paper. Commence by researching it widely, gathering the main points, and developing a good ethics essay. Remember that even with great ethics debate topics, you must follow your teacher’s guidelines when writing the paper. For example, what writing and referencing style did the teacher say you follow? What is the length of the essay? What about the deadline?

Are the requirements for writing a great essay too much for you to follow, even after identifying the best title from the above ethics research paper topics? But there is no need to worry because you can use professional writing help with your assignment. This writing assistance for college students is offered by experienced writers who guarantee you the best paper. You can never go wrong with professionals!

ethics research paper topics

What are some good topics in ethics?

Here are some good ethics topics you can use when writing your essay: What is the concept of bioethics in society? Should vaccination be made compulsory for everyone? Can the use of electric cars help to save the planet? How does money spoil the fairness of sports?

What is an ethical topic for a research paper?

An ethical topic uses a set of principles to guide your research design and practices. The topic should discuss ethics that are needed to achieve a certain goal. The topic should have an ethical doctrine you believe people should know about.

What are some examples of ethical research?

Some example topics of ethical research are; should people be responsible for the past decision made by their fore-parents? Is it ethical to medically help someone against their will? Why does money ruin friendships? How does corruption affect governance and development?

business ethics research paper topics

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research ethics research paper

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Read our sample essays and get inspired for your own academic work

The following code of ethics is proposed for a fictional police department, and one operating within New York City. Both setting and organization are selected because each represents specific challenges in law enforcement conduct; as large urban areas typically have greater levels of crime, so too are the police departments...

What Did You Learn About Race, Class, And Gender This Semester? Societies across the globe grapple with the issue of socially constructed differences, and some of these differences are in the line of gender, race, and class. The issues are a constant source of societal debate because a person's race,...

We will write the topic for you if you can't find it among our "Ethics" samples.

George’s situation of finding maggots stuck in the pipes where the milkshake mix was being run is a tough situation to be in. Even though Paul is telling George that everything will be okay if they remove the pipe filters and allow the maggots to be ground up into the...

The importance and need to have an Internal Review Board cannot be overlooked. Successful research is very much dependent on the effectiveness of an IRB. Internal Review Boards are mainly set in order to guide the steps that are taken by researchers, especially in research that involves human subjects. Through...

Over the years, life expectancy has been experiencing steady increase in the United States. This is an achievement as far as addition in the length of life in which people live. This accomplishment has both positive and negative effects as far life is concerned (Andre & Velasquez, 2014). These demographic...

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    This paper describes the basic principles of Western research ethics - respect for persons, beneficence, and justice - and how the principles may be contextualized in different settings, by researchers of various backgrounds with different funding streams. Examples of lapses in ethical practice of research are used to highlight best practices.

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    Research Ethics is aimed at all readers and authors interested in ethical issues in the conduct of research, the regulation of research, the procedures and process of ethical review as well as broader ethical issues related to research such as scientific integrity and the end uses of research. ... Submit your paper to one of our Special ...

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    Ethics in Research and Publication - PMC. Journal List. J Indian Assoc Pediatr Surg. v.25 (6); Nov-Dec 2020. PMC7815037. As a library, NLM provides access to scientific literature. Inclusion in an NLM database does not imply endorsement of, or agreement with, the contents by NLM or the National Institutes of Health.

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    and you can visit the Ethics in Research & Publication website at ethics.elsevier. com and download the files mentioned in this Toolkit. Plus you will also find more tools including: webinars hosted by the experts, in-depth personal interviews, topical videos, white papers and timely articles on ethics, and an expanded

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    For instance, ethical standards govern conduct in medicine, law, engineering, and business. Ethical norms also serve the aims or goals of research and apply to people who conduct scientific research or other scholarly or creative activities. There is even a specialized discipline, research ethics, which studies these norms.

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    100 Questions (and Answers) About Research Ethics is an essential guide for graduate students and researchers in the social and behavioral sciences. It identifies ethical issues that individuals must consider when planning research studies as well as provides guidance on how to address ethical issues that might arise during research implementation.

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    the period of research and these will be dealt with through the local ethics board. This procedure includes doctoral studies supervised by any research team member. (3) The researcher and/or research team will always obtain informed consent from all parties involved in the research prior to implementing the research project.

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    This research paper outlines a range of topics and approaches employed in research on research ethics. Other articles herein on ethics provide detailed examples. 1. History. Prior to the 1960s, most scientists considered their work value free or inherently good. Some scientific societies developed codes of ethics that were quite general and ...

  22. Professional Ethics Research Paper Topics

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  25. Top 100 Ethical Research Paper Topics To Use in 2020

    Top 100 Hot Ethics Research Paper Topics For Your Success. When it comes to writing term papers, the first step is coming up with an appropriate topic. But this has proven to be a major challenge for learners. For students in ethics classes, selecting a topic for their assignments is more challenging because the subject is very wide. But you ...

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