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Principles of Research Ethics

 Principles of Research Ethics



Ethics are the moral foundations and values that govern a person’s behavior while conducting an activity. They have an impact on how people lead their lives and their approach in making decisions. Principles of research ethics are the principles that should be used when conducting a research. They offer guidance when a research is being conducted and help to establish if something is right or wrong. Research ethics should be followed by researchers in their respective field of research.

According to Vanclay, Baines & Taylor (2013), respect for persons is one ethic that is very important when conducting a research. In terms of the interactions made, the person conducting the research should always interact with the highest level of respect. This includes the language used, making no judgments, no disapprovals, and considering every opinion of the participant. It is good to ensure that the participant is protected, including the people who are most vulnerable and those who are neglected. This means giving them the freedom to make a decision without any other influences. Respect for participants also ensures that the issues that will be spoken about are the ones that are confined in the research. Respecting people contributes to research ethics by allowing the participant feel valued therefore giving their opinions freely.

Non-maleficence means that no harm should be caused to the participant that may be resulted by their participation in the research. Vanclay, Baines & Taylor (2013) explain that participants should not be exposed to any harm of danger and there should be no detrimental repercussions as a result of their participation. The participant should be made aware of any possible risk and should be protected from any harm. Sometimes a research may cause a participant to reflect on their personal life and experiences and become emotional. The researcher should make sure that incase of any emotional distress that may have come up during the interaction, they should handle it and offer a resolution. They should also do a follow up on the participant and offer guidance and counselling to them. This contributes to ethics by taking care of the participant and of their well-being both psychologically and emotionally.

According to Al Tajir (2018), justice is a principle in research that is about the fair selection of research participants. It is the perfect distribution of benefits and risks of participation in a research. In order to distribute the benefits and risks equally, this concept makes it possible to determine the members of certain communities either well-off or vulnerable meets the qualifications and should participate in the research. All eligible participants should be given an opportunity to get involved and without being discriminated. Before a research begins, the research protocols must be submitted for review and approval by the research committee. In this principle, the interests and needs of the participant should always come before the purpose of the research. The ethics contribution by this principle is the equal and fair treatment of the participants.

Beneficence is a principle which its concerns are maximizing benefits of a research and minimizing the participant harm that is associated with a research. According to Al Tajir (2018), in this principle, each research study has to go through a benefit and risk scrutiny. In this analysis, benefits are weighed against the possible risks. Benefits are all the participants and risk involves all the types of possible harm that could affect the participant during or after the research. The types of harm that could be possibly experienced and should be considered include psychological, emotional, financial, social, reputational and physical among others. Risk reduction measures should be included when developing the study. Risk evaluation includes not only the existence and non-existence of harm but also the cause, how severe the harm was, and to what extent it escalated to. This principle contributes to ethics by putting measures that prevent and protect the participants against harm and also boost the benefits of the research.

Gelling (2015) expounds on the fidelity principle which concerned with developing trust relationships between the participant and the researcher. When a person agrees to participate in the research, they trust the researcher who has the mandate to protect them from any harm that may arise. It is important for researchers to be open, clear and honest about the possible risks and burdens that could possibly occur during the research as a way of creating trust with the participant. When participants are being given information, it is important for the researchers to provide all the information to enable the participant to make a well- informed decision.

 According to Gelling (2015), researchers have to inform the participants that they can withdraw from the research when they feel that they can no longer continue. This creates a trusting relationship between the two. Some of the researches conducted normally explore personal experiences and therefore the participants are supposed to be honest in the information they give concerning the experiences. Fidelity is a two way principle whereby the participants need to trust the researchers and the researchers too need to trust the participants. In case there is lack of trust relationships from the two parties, the consequences will be the lack of quality research. This contributes to trust relationships which are very vital for both the participant and the researcher and the research activity as well.

Academic freedom gives researchers the right to study and research on the topics they choose and to take whatever conclusions they find relevant with their research. The aim of academic freedom is to ensure that researchers are able to do their research and gives their opinions according to their area of expertise. According to Silverman, Suckow & Murthy, (2014), academic freedom allows researchers to study and discuss, and publish ideas with no constraints. Researchers should have the freedom to research, evaluate to be able to gain new knowledge and understanding. The ethical contribution is to freely conduct research, evaluate and give their opinions.

The principles collectively contribute towards making the research yield benefits and at the same time protect the participants from any harm. Vanclay, Baines & Taylor (2013), explains that they also help to guide the participant and make them understand the purposes of the research and how they are conducted. They contribute towards honesty, openness and truthfulness between the researcher and the participant. The researcher should be transparent enough to the participant so that they will know exactly what they are getting their selves into and also make an informed decision. As a result of this principles, equality is met in terms of choosing the participants.

According to Vanishree & Umashankar (2018), healthcare progress is established from a research that has to include human subjects in order to understand the causes and the impacts diseases have and improve the diagnostic methods and procedures. The proven treatments too have to be assessed from time to time through research to prove how effective, safe, efficient, their quality and how accessible they are. The principles make all this to be possible and help to work for the good of the patients. They enhance and ensure respect for all human participants and protect their health rights and keep them away from any possible harm. The principles help the physicians who are involved in the research protect the health, life, integrity, and keep the participants information private and confidential. The principles guide the healthcare researchers to conduct the research in a way that there is very minimal harm to the individuals and the environment.

In healthcare, the principles guide the researchers to give opportunities to the groups that are known to be underrepresented to participate. Vanishree & Umashankar (2018), states that in terms of risks and benefits, the principles guide in the research that involves human participants which should only be performed if the importance of the aim exceeds the risks of the participant. In no way possible should the participant be exposed to any harm. Measures to the possible risks should be developed and a follow up on the risks should be done. Researchers should not conduct a research if they are not sure that the possible risks can be evaluated and managed. In a case where the risks exceed the benefits, the researcher should decide whether to go ahead, modify or stop the research immediately. The principles make research with vulnerable groups and participants only be justified if the research is aware of their health needs and interests. The research should benefit the vulnerable participants through knowledge and information from the research.

            According to Vanishree & Umashankar (2018), the principles influence the research involving the human participant to be described and prove to be reasonable in a research protocol. A protocol contains the ethical considerations that are to be used in the research, information about funding, and incentives for the research. It also includes information about the services that will be offered to the participant in case of any harm. The protocol must be submitted to the ethical committee for evaluation and consideration. The principles influence transparency for every concerned party in the research. This includes the committee members, the researchers and the participants.

            Al Tajir (2018) states that autonomy in healthcare is respecting a patient’s decision on their own body. In healthcare research, the researcher should respect the participant’s wishes and decisions regarding their body. Informed consent is the full disclosure of the research to the participant and it means that a participant will knowingly and willingly give their consent. It is a way by which the autonomy of a patient is respected and protected. Privacy means that the participant should be protected from being observed without permission or being intruded. Confidentiality means protecting information that has been given by a participant during the research. Precautions should be taken to protect the privacy of a participant and their information should be kept confidential.


Principles of research ethics makes the participants and the researchers get the knowledge of how it should be conducted and what should and not should be done. They makes both parties have a relationship which is important in terms of trusting one another and feeling free to share information. They ensure that a participant’s information is protected and their rights have been adhered to and their needs and wishes have been provided. They ensure that a participant voluntarily gets involved in the research.













Al Tajir G. K. (2018) Ethical treatment of participants in public health research: Journal of Public Health and Emergency, 2 (1) Gelling L. (2015) Fidelity: the third ethical principle: Retrieved from, fidelity/

Vanishree K. & Umashankar K. (2018). Understanding the principles of ethics in health care: a systematic analysis of qualitative information. International Journal of Community Medicine and Public Health. 5. 822.

 Silverman J., Suckow A.M., Murthy S. (2014). The IACUC Handbook, Third Edition: CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group New York

Vanclay F., Baines J. T & Taylor N. C. (2013). Principles for ethical research involving humans:

ethical professional practice in impact assessment Part I, Impact Assessment and Project

Appraisal, 31 (4), 243-253


1848 Words  6 Pages
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