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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.