Welcome to Becoming an Ethical Researcher. This course explores the ethical challenges faced by researchers during their Master's degree and/or Ph.D. It will help you reflect on your ethical approach in a research context through contemporary case studies and multidisciplinary scenarios.
Topics covered by the course include approaches to ethical decision-making, the values that underpin ethical research and the ethical concerns that are associated with different forms of research. A companion course, Research Ethics in Practice, builds on the theories established in Becoming an Ethical Researcher and invites you to consider their practical application when working with human participants, applying for research ethics approval, and working in a global environment or in challenging circumstances.
This module is designed to show that different research methods may raise different ethical concerns that require different types of responses.
If this is the first time you have accessed the Becoming an Ethical Researcher course, or if you need a brief reminder, here is some information on how the screens are organised, and some of the tools and features that are used throughout:
We aim to make our courses as accessible as possible. However, in case you find any of our interactive activities difficult to operate via mouse, keyboard or any other means, we provide a 'text only version' for every screen, which will present the content in a simplified, text-based format. This includes transcripts for video and audio files, and increased font sizes for greater readability.
Look out for the descriptionText/print version button, located at the top right of any screen in the course, to toggle this feature.
You may also use this feature to activate a print-friendly version of any screen, in case you would like to print and keep the content for your notes.
Throughout this course, you will find additional information in 'pods'. Exploring these pods will enrich your learning experience, as they contain extra content to expand on key points from the main screen, as well as links to useful external resources:
The poll questions are designed to help you think about your own situation and attitudes, and to compare your responses to those of others taking the programme. Consider talking to an academic advisor about your responses.
At the very end of each module, you have the opportunity to test your learning further with a multiple-choice quiz. This consists of five questions and can be taken more than once (a new set of questions will appear).
The Becoming an Ethical Researcher course is designed to gradually build up your understanding and skills. We recommend that you complete the modules in the order given, but they have been designed so you can access each of them independently according to your own requirements and those of your institution.
If you require technical support with using the course, please refer to the help_outlineTechnical support button, located at the top right of any screen in the course.
Becoming an Ethical Researcher primarily uses Euro-Western philosophy as the foundation for introducing and exploring research ethics. As the purpose of the course is to help you become an ethical researcher rather than a philosopher, the philosophy content is necessarily brief. However, the authors wish to acknowledge that Euro-Western philosophy is just one of several philosophical traditions, and where space permits, the course will point to other approaches.
It should also be acknowledged that historical figures, even eminent philosophers such as Aristotle and Kant, have expressed sexist or racist views in their writings that were common in their times but do not fit with modern perspectives. Reference to their work in this course does not indicate endorsement of the unequal treatment of anyone based on gender, race, religion or any other protected characteristics. You can find more background to the philosophers discussed in the course, along with some alternative views to explore, in the 'Learn more' pods.
Doris Schroeder was educated in Germany and the UK at postgraduate level in economics / management and philosophy / politics. Her first career was as a budget planner for Time Warner. She is Professor of Moral Philosophy and Director at the Centre for Professional Ethics in Preston, UK, and Professor in the School of Law at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) Cyprus. Previous employers include the University of Melbourne (Professorial Fellow) and the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. Her specialist expertise is in global ethics, research ethics, international justice and responsible research and innovation. She has given invited presentations about her research in 27 countries and on all continents.
Kate Chatfield is the Deputy Director of the Centre for Professional Ethics at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). With a background in philosophy, holistic healthcare and bioethics, she has worked and published on a broad spectrum of ethical matters, including ethics dumping, research collaborations in low- and middle-income countries, animal experimentation, traditional medicines, environmental ethics, responsible research and innovation, and challenges for research ethics committees.
Kate was at the forefront of developments in online education at UCLan; she has developed and delivered a range of e-learning modules at postgraduate level including critical thinking, research methods and research ethics.
Hazel Partington is a Senior Research Fellow in Ethics and Health working in the Centre for Professional Ethics at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and a supervisor of doctoral students. Hazel is currently involved in three ethics-based research projects: the PREPARED project is working towards developing a framework to preserve standards in research ethics and integrity during times of crisis; the LENS project is exploring the meaning of vulnerability in populations who might be described as vulnerable and developing appropriate research methods to involve community researchers from vulnerable populations; and the irecs project aims to develop understanding of the ethics issues likely to arise in new technologies and to produce training materials to prepare researchers and ethics committee members to deal with these issues.
Fiona Denney is Professor of Business Education at Brunel Business School, Brunel University London, where she is based in the Division of Organisations and People. From 2014 to 2020 she was the Director of the Brunel Educational Excellence Centre, supporting learning and teaching enhancement for both staff and students. Previously, she worked in researcher development at King's College London. Fiona is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA). She has served as a member of the Executive Committee of the UK Council for Graduate Education and led the Vitae London Hub between 2007 and 2014. Fiona has held academic posts in marketing and management studies and her research interests are in academic leadership and hybrid management.
Douglas Halliday is a Co-Director of Durham Energy Institute and the Director of the Multidisciplinary Centre for Doctoral Training in Energy, which trains doctoral candidates across science and social sciences in a multidisciplinary training environment, helping doctoral candidates to understand the breadth and complexity of the whole energy system. Douglas is the Director of Durham University Global Challenges Centre for Doctoral Training, supporting a cohort of international students to undertake research exploring solutions for the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Previously, he was Dean of Durham's Graduate School from 2005 to 2010 and a recipient of a 2009 THE Award for Outstanding Support for Early Career Researchers. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics and the Energy Institute, and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Douglas was Chair of the UK Council for Graduate Education until July 2021.
Wilma Alexander is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, with Master's degrees in Human–Computer Interaction, Linguistics and Information Science. She has over 15 years of experience as a manager with the online learning team at the University of Edinburgh, where she specialised in usable and accessible digital practice, tutored on the groundbreaking Master's degree in Digital Education and developed online staff training on accessible e-learning and online tutoring skills. Since retiring from the university at the end of 2015, Wilma has provided consultancy services on all aspects of online learning, with a special focus on accessibility and usability issues.
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