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Research Ethics for Students in the Social Sciences

This Open Access text is a useful introduction to ethical issues for students in the social sciences. It can form the basis of a comprehensive undergraduate course as it contains discussion of the issues along with some practical examples of how the issues can be addressed ‘in context’.

The Open Science training handbook

High-quality trainings are fundamental when aiming at a cultural change towards the implementation of Open Science principles. Teaching resources provide great support for Open Science instructors and trainers. The Open Science training handbook will be a key resource and a first step towards developing Open Access and Open Science curricula and andragogies. Supporting and connecting an emerging Open Science community that wishes to pass on their knowledge as multipliers, the handbook will enrich training activities and unlock the community’s full potential.

The Ark of Enquiry Project

The Ark of Enquiry Project aims to encourage students’ interest in science and science-related subjects. School science teaching needs to be more engaging, apply inquiry-based and problem solving methods and meet the interests of young people. Inquiry-based learning is a method which enables to pick up different kinds of subject matter knowledge through inquiry experience. Inquiry-based science education (IBSE) can increase pupils’ interest in science and also motivates teachers. Europe needs responsible, innovative scientists. To achieve this, learners should be encouraged to acquire inquiry skills at an early age. The Ark of Inquiry Project will target pupils 7 to 18 years of age. Through experiencing different inquiry-based activities, reading thought-provoking scientific publications and actively communicating on science-related topics at an early age, young people could develop a desire to choose a future career in science. The Ark of Inquiry project aims to engage young people in science and responsible research topics as well as to let them acquire inquiry skills and experience the science process first-hand through various activities:

• reading scientific publications;
• formulating problems, inquiry questions or hypotheses;
• planning and conducting observations or experiments;
• analysing collected data;
• making conclusions or generalisations.

EU Textbook on Ethics in Research

This syllabus is the second output of the project “EU Textbook on Ethics in Research”, funded by the European Commission and delivered by members of the Centre for Professional Ethics at Keele University, UK. As an accompaniment to the textbook itself, this syllabus provides an overview of the content of the textbook and is designed to be used as a basis for training courses in research ethics aimed at researchers and/or research ethics committee members and officers. The textbook itself contains the same case studies as the syllabus, but with more detailed discussion of the ethical issues arising from them. Although the syllabus can be used in conjunction with the textbook, it may also be used independently, in which case the guides to further reading provided at the end of each unit will be of particular importance.

These two courses take a Euro-Western approach to research ethics. They come from the ‘Global Health Training Centre’ and so are geared towards health researchers and focus heavily on participant wellbeing. Both have been through peer review and other quality assurance processes, and both offer certificates to students who complete the course successfully with a score of 80% or more.
The ‘Research Ethics Online Training’ course is based on a package originally produced by the World Health Organisation. Each of its 14 individual modules should take 15-30 minutes to complete. There are other resources such as a glossary, a bibliography, case studies, sample ethics guidelines, videos, and links to other ethics websites.
The ‘Essential Elements of Ethics’ course is adapted from an ethics tool kit created to support researchers at Harvard University, USA. This course contains 11 modules. There are also resources including a workbook and checklist of points to consider, and a discussion forum – although this does not appear to be very active.

Free research ethics modules with a wider perspective are offered by Duke University in the USA. These cover topics such as cultural awareness and humility, ethical photography, power and privilege, and working with children, and are delivered through videos with transcripts also made available.

TED Talks

There are many TED Talks available on youtube that have relevance and can be considered ‘educative’ about research ethics. This one is mainly focused on industry-funded effect biases. Garry Gray reports on his extensive research across a range of disciplines. He interviewed scientists in terms of their everyday research life and the kinds of ethical dilemmas they face which were dependent upon funding sources. He shows how institutional structures can corrupt knowledge production and how cumulative minor ethical lapses can lead to the distortion of evidence: self-censorship is all too easily accomplished and neutralizes any sense of guilt a research might be exposed to.

The Gender Equality Academy (GE Academy) Project

The Gender Equality Academy (GE Academy) Project, supported by the EU under Horizon 2020, develops and implements a coherent and high-quality capacity building programme on gender equality in Research and Innovation (R&I) field, based on state-of-the-art knowledge. The project seeks to provide tailor-made training material in diverse formats, such as train-the-trainers, in-person trainings and interactive workshops, summer schools, webinars and online distributed open collaborative courses. Comprising a cross-national consortium of research organisations, institutions and academia, the programme’s ambitious goal is to produce and distribute training material in a minimum of 15 countries.

ENERI – A network of networks

The “European Network of Research Ethics and Research Integrity” (ENERI) is a project that aims to improve the exchange between experts in the fields of research ethics and research integrity. To this end the ENERI e-Community is established as a permanent platform that enables better communication and cooperation. As well for practical guidance recommendations and tools for researchers, research ethics committees and research integrity offices are developed, in particular the RI Handbook, the RE&RI manual and the decision tree. On top of that online training options are available in the ENERI classroom.

TRREE provides training and resources that are relevant to the work of all those who must ensure the protection of the interests and well-being of humans who participate in research as well as the promotion of the highest ethical standards. While some modules may focus on more specific training needs of research ethics committee members, or research teams including investigators, nurses, or study coordinators, the training is open to all and may be of interest to health authorities, funding agencies and universities, as well as to political authorities, patients and the media. Variations between systems in different countries is outlined.

Ethics in epidemics, emergencies and disasters: research, surveillance and patient care: Training manual

Epidemics, emergencies and disasters raise many ethical issues for the people involved, including first responders, public health specialists and policy‑makers. This training manual is a practical resource, designed to help organize and run training days and courses. Issues are organized into competencies, with introductions to the topics, background readings, case studies, discussion questions and PowerPoint slides. Specific instructional strategies are included, along with recommended timings for various components of the training sessions. This manual provides material on ethical issues in research, surveillance and patient care in these difficult contexts, as well as ways to reduce risks before, during and after events. The manual originated from a WHO technical consultation on Research ethics in international epidemic response (World Health Organization, 2010). The experts took positions on three main issues: “the principles and values embodied in international and national ethics guidelines, as well as human rights instruments, must be upheld” in the conduct of research in epidemic response; they expressed reluctance to ground the need for ethical oversight on the classical distinction between health practice and research recognizing that such a distinction easily becomes blurred during emergencies: the experts considered a number of adaptations of ethical oversight and processes, focusing on the deliberations of research ethics committees. The technical consultation reaffirmed the importance of addressing the conflicts among various ethical considerations during research, surveillance and patient care in emergencies, including access to standards of care, confidentiality, the duty to care, fairness, informed consent, liberty, moral relativism and privacy.