We present here a draft statement of principles that lie behind seeking/using ethical evidence from non-medical research to inform policy. In talking about ethical evidence, we are both tackling the principle of evidence per se and the way this evidence is built throughout the whole research process from inception through to application or use. The short, clear, succinct and actionable statement we present here is designated the ‘Accord’. This is the baseline that we intend the further consultation process to be built on. Neither its title nor content is ‘fixed’ at this point. We aim to explore its potential with the appropriate constituencies and across the range of stakeholders. These includethe producers of research, disseminators and intermediaries, influencers, policy advisers, decision-makers and implementers.The section following the Accord statement draws out the elements of the brief Accord statement in terms of slightly more detailed principles together with a rationale for this approach. The draft Accord is based on the work accomplished by the first phase of the PRO-RES Project and based on declared foundational assumptions about the values, principles and standards involved in ethical research conducted with integrity. The Accord will be presented on the PRO-RES website and linked to a ‘Toolbox’ to aid stakeholders in assessing the ethics and integrity of research evidence and supportive resources to help produce such evidence across the range of non-medical research activities.
We are aiming to develop a culture of ethical research based oncontinuous discursive engagement. By that we mean:
- There needs to be an ethical discourseto be sure that researchers are aware of, and sensitive to, the ethical dimensions of their work. That awareness depends on engagement in ethical discourse as an integral aspect of engagement in research
- To bring about a cultural change in research activity, there has to be engagementof everyone responsible for the process, including researchers, stakeholders, peers and the users of research.
- This engagement needs to be continuous. Ethical issues can arise at every stage of research: conception, development, proposal, process, conclusion. Dissemination and use. Ethical consideration cannot be a single-stage process.