All research should be conducted according to sound ethical principles. The Faculty has produced guidance notes to help you to carry out a review of the ethical issues that might be raised by the research project you are about to undertake.

In general terms the main requirement of research in ethical terms is that it should, as far as possible, do good without doing harm. It should have the potential to produce benefits of some kind without imposing negative consequences either on the participants (researchers, respondents and subjects) or on the environment.

This general idea can be translated into a number of ethical principles that can be used to assess the ethical status of a research proposal. There are six key ethical principles that should be born in mind in designing and carrying out research:

1. Participants must be properly informed about the purposes, methods and intended possible uses of the research.

2. Participants should give their consent: they should participate in a voluntary way, free from any coercion.

3. Harm to participants, and to the wider environment, must be avoided.

4. The confidentiality of information supplied by research subjects, and the anonymity of respondents, must be respected.

5. The independence of research must be maintained, and any potential sources of conflict of interest or partiality must be made explicit.

6. Research must be designed and carried out to the best possible standards of quality, honesty and integrity.

It is important that ethical issues are considered at the outset, and taken into account in the design of the research, when there is time to do any necessary preparatory work, and perhaps to modify the design to deal with possible problems.

Source: University of the West of England