Importance of ethical considerations in a research

By Priya Chetty on September 29, 2016

Ethical considerations forms a major element in a research. The researcher needs to adhere to promote the aims of the research imparting authentic knowledge, truth and prevention of error. Furthermore, following  ethics enables scholars to deal collaborative approach towards their study with the assistance of their peers, mentors and other contributors to the study.

This requires values alike accountability, trust, mutual respect and fairness among all the parties involved in a study. This in turn depends on protection of intellectual property rights of all the contributors, established through implementation of ethical considerations. Other ethical considerations in a research refers to accountability towards general public by protecting the human or animal subjects used in the study. Similarly appropriate usage of public funds and gaining of public support is also important.

Examples of ethical considerations

The importance of ethical considerations in a research has been presented with examples in the table below:



Promote authentic, original and true knowledge by avoiding error. Falsifying, fabrication and misrepresentation of data which can alter a real scenario such as the degree of economic development of a nation.
To promote values of collaborative work. Maintaining intellectual property rights of fellow researchers, mentors and other scholars. This can be achieved by bestowing proper credentials to their contribution in the research.
Public accountability. Maintaining governmental and university policies on human subject protection and animal care. This will guarantee the researcher’s accountability towards public.

The researcher can gain public support for funding his/her study (e.g. on genes or rare medicine), which otherwise requires huge finances and time.

Maintenance of quality & integrity along with moral and social values like, social responsibility, human rights, legal compliance, animal welfare, public health & safety, etc. Researchers put lives at risk when they fabricate data in the study of medicine. Furthermore, if a researcher discloses  information of their AIDS subjects without their discrete can lead to mental or physical stress. 

Source: Resnik (2011); Smith (2003)

Elements of ethical considerations in a research

Therefore, to maintain ethical considerations in a study, researcher need to maintain the certain elements, as stated by various scholars such as:

  • Kumar 2014;
  • Stern & Elliott 1997;
  • Bryman, A. and Bell 2011;
  • Miller et al. 2012;
  • Elliott & Stern 1997;
  • Penslar 1995;
  • Barbour 2000;
  • Smith 2003;
  • Knoppers & Joly 2006;
  • Flewitt 2005;
  • Dickert & Sugarman 2005).

Planning a research

A research should be planned to avoid misleading results and meet acceptability while the questions regarding ethical procedure should also be resolved. Furthermore, the researcher should ensure welfare and dignity of the subjects.

Safeguarding collected information

Researcher should collect responses from participants related to the study. Thus, the researcher should avoid the use of faulty equipments to ensure accuracy. Furthermore, the researcher must follow disciplinary standards and practices to safeguard the responses of the subjects.

Responsibility of protecting the respondents

The researcher should take care of their subjects from any discomfort arising due to their involvement in the research process. In addition to, the researcher should adhere inform the subjects about any risks, benefits and purpose of the study.

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Maintaining privacy and confidentiality

The researcher should maintain the confidentiality of the responses of the subjects involved in the study. Furthermore the researcher must ensure privacy of the participants. Researcher should maintain a trustworthy relationship with the respondents, so that their responses will not be divulged to others. The researcher can also use codes in order to record the data to encrypt personal information.

Following guidelines and avoid plagiarism

It is crucial for the researcher to follow guidelines laid down by the authority before initiating a study. If the researcher finds the data to be erroneous then it is the responsibility of the researcher to correct the data.


  • Barbour, R.S., 2000. The role of qualitative research in broadening the “evidence base” for clinical practice. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, 6(2), pp.155–163.
  • Bryman, A. and Bell, E., 2011. Business Research Methods 3e, Oxford University Press.
  • Dickert, N. & Sugarman, J., 2005. Ethical Goals of Community Consultation in Research. American Journal of Public Health, 95(7), pp.1123–1127.
  • Elliott, D. & Stern, J.E., 1997. Research ethics: A reader., UPNE.
  • Flewitt, R., 2005. Conducting research with young children: some ethical considerations. Early Child Development and Care, 175(6).
  • Knoppers, B.M. & Joly, Y., 2006. The emergence of an ethical duty to disclose genetic research results: international perspectives. European Journal of Human Genetics, 14, pp.1170–1178.
  • Kumar, R., 2014. Research Methodology: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners (Google eBook) 4th Ed., London: SAGE.
  • Miller, T. et al., 2012. Ethics in qualitative research.
  • Penslar, R.L., 1995. Research Ethics: Cases and Materials, Indiana University Press.
  • Resnik, D., 2011. What is Ethics in Research & Why is it Important? National Institute of Environmental health sciences.
  • Smith, D., 2003. Five principles for research ethics. Monitor on Psychology, 34(1), p.56. Available at: [Accessed January 7, 2016].
  • Stern, J. & Elliott, D., 1997. The Ethics of Scientific Research, Hanover: University Press of New England. Available at: [Accessed May 27, 2015].
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