Ethics – Integral part of a research process
Ethics is an integral part of research from the beginning to the end. It is only by getting the ethics right that research excellence can be achieved. Scientific integrity and ethical codes of conduct for science and research and their technical applications. Member States should establish suitable means to address the ethics of science and research integrity, through developing education and training regarding the ethical dimensions of science, establishing and supporting science ethics policies and committees, and stimulating the professional ethics of researchers including their intellectual integrity, sensitivity to conflict of interest and vigilance as to the potential consequences of their research and development activities, including their technical applications. In addition to this text, we are reporting the recommendations that were given by the UNESCO on the importance of Ethics in Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) process.
Recommendations for Member States
As this article follows, we are going to present you some of the most important recommendations that UNESCO has prepared for their member states, which varies from lending support to educational initiatives up to developing policies for the protection and preservation of research objects, scientific infrastructure and scientific archives, including in instances of conflict. For the purpose of this article, we have taken only the parts which are related to Ethics in the Responsible Research and Innovation process, and they are following;
- Establishing suitable means to address the ethics of science and of the use of scientific knowledge and its applications, specifically through establishing, promoting and supporting independent, multidisciplinary and pluralist ethics committees in order to assess the relevant ethical, legal, scientific and social issues related to research projects involving human beings, to provide ethical advice on ethical questions in research and development, to assess scientific and technological developments and to foster debate, education and public awareness and engagement of ethics related to research and development;
- So far as is compatible with the necessary and proper independence of educators and educational institutions, Member States should lend their support to all educational initiatives designed to:
(a) Incorporate or develop in each domain’s curricula and courses the ethical dimensions of science and of research;
(b) the scientific method;
(c) intellectual integrity, sensitivity to conflict of interest, respect for ethical principles pertaining to research;
(d) the ability to review a problem or situation in perspective and in proportion, with all its human implications;
(e) skill in isolating the civic and ethical implications, in issues involving the search for new knowledge and which may, at first sight, seem to be of a technical nature only;
(f) vigilance as to the probable and possible social and ecological consequences of research and development activities;
(g) willingness to communicate with others not only in scientific and technological circles but also outside those circles, which implies a willingness to work in a team and in a multi-occupational context.
- Member States should encourage conditions that can deliver high-quality science in a responsible manner in line with paragraph. For this purpose, Member States should establish mechanisms and take all appropriate measures aimed to ensure the fullest exercise, respect, protection and promotion of the rights and responsibilities of scientific researchers and others concerned by this Recommendation. For this purpose, the following are the recommended responsibilities and rights of scientific researchers:
(a) to work in a spirit of intellectual freedom to pursue, expound and defend the scientific truth as they see it, an intellectual freedom which should include protection from undue influences on their independent judgement; Ocean Discovery Institute/National Science Foundation Mentoring at every level peer to peer, scientist to student, etc. helps to ensure students become the next-generation leaders in ocean science.
(b) to contribute to the definition of the aims and objectives of the programmes in which they are engaged and to the determination of the methods to be adopted which should be humanely, scientifically, socially and ecologically responsible; in particular, researchers should seek to minimize impacts on living subjects of research and on the natural environment and should be aware of the need to manage resources efficiently and sustainably;
(c) to express themselves freely and openly on the ethical, human, scientific, social or ecological value of certain projects, and in those instances where the development of science and technology undermine human welfare, dignity and human rights or is “dual use”, they have the right to withdraw from those projects if their conscience so dictates and the right and responsibility to express themselves freely on and to report these concerns;
(d) to contribute constructively to the fabric of science, culture and education, and the promotion of science and innovation in their own country, as well as to the achievement of national goals, the enhancement of their fellow citizens’ well-being, the protection of the environment, and the furtherance of the international ideals and objectives;
(e) to promote access to research results and engage in the sharing of scientific data between researchers, and to policy-makers, and to the public wherever possible, while being mindful of existing rights
(f) to disclose both perceived and actual conflicts of interest according to a recognized code of ethics that promotes the objectives of scientific research and development;
(g) to integrate in their research and development work in an ongoing manner: disclosures to each human research subjects so as to inform their consent, controls to minimize harm to each living subject of research and to the environment, and consultations with communities where the conduct of research may affect community members
- Member States should recognize the international dimensions of research and development and, in this regard, should do everything possible to help scientific researchers, and that includes:
(a) ensuring equal access to science and the knowledge derived from it as not only a social and ethical requirement for human development, but also as essential for realizing the full potential of scientific communities worldwide
(b) in the context of their intellectual property regime, ensuring that contributions to scientific knowledge are appropriately credited, and balancing between protection of intellectual property rights and the open access and sharing of knowledge, as well as ensuring the protection of sources and products of traditional knowledge
(c) taking measures against bio-piracy; illicit trafficking of organs, tissues, samples, genetic resources, and genetic-related materials; as well as ensuring the protection of the human rights, fundamental freedoms and dignity of the human person, and the confidentiality of personal data
- Member States should endeavor to ensure that research and development undertaken, funded, or otherwise pursued in whole or in part in different States, is consistent with principles of conducting research in a responsible manner that respects human rights. In particular, for transnational research involving human subjects which includes appropriate ethical review that should be undertaken both in the host state(s) in which the donor is located, based on internationally agreed ethical frameworks
- Member States should develop policies for the protection and preservation of research objects, scientific infrastructure and scientific archives, including in instances of conflict.
- Member States should ensure that scientific researchers may:
(a) receive without hindrance the questions, criticisms and suggestions addressed to them by their colleagues throughout the world, as well as the intellectual stimulus afforded by such communications and the exchanges to which they give rise;
enjoy in tranquility international acclaim warranted by their scientific merit.
For more recommendations that are proposed by the UNESCO to the Member States follow this link
Find out more on The Recommendation on Science and Scientific Researchers.