VALUES and VIRTUES: Throughout most existing codes and guidelines there appears a commonly held understanding that the virtuous researcher/scientist holds to certain values. These include a concern to be honest in all the work they do, to cooperate with other scientists in a supportive manner and to show respect for the dignity and diversity of their subjects. They should demonstrate qualities of care, kindness and compassion and take responsibility for all their actions. That includes a responsibility to think through what the consequences of their work might be for society, communities, individuals and even specific groups. At the same time as allowing researchers a reasonable degree of freedom to explore as their discipline dictates, research subjects, participants or respondents and others affected by the research must equally be allowed the freedom not to be harmed by research activities. The freedom to conduct scientific research must be matched by enabling those affected by the research the freedom not to be obliged to be party to it. Nonetheless, engaging in certain research acts and situations requires considerable courage on the part of researchers, this too is considered a virtue of responsible scientific practice. There may sometimes also be an obligation to carry out research in order to determine whether the benefits of an innovation exceed the risks or whether claims of an emerging risk are well-founded. These values and virtues need to be supported by the cultures and structures of the institutions in which the researchers work.
Many values exist in tension or even in direct conflict with each other. Thus ‘honesty’ and/or ‘transparency’ could offer a challenge to recognition of the ‘dignity and diversity’ of participants. Equally one person’s freedom to act might curtail another’s freedom to act differently. There is no intention in the above values/vices statement to put an inappropriate block, say, on research conducted in public places where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy. Similarly, individuals seeking the freedom to opt out from administrative datasets should be reminded of their accountability to civil society; that is, those receiving some benefit from their membership in a society should not expect to opt out of being accountable for what they do with that benefit.
A somewhat formalised distinction between ‘research ethics’ and ‘research integrity’ has taken hold in many spheres. Our view is that ‘research ethics’ stands as the umbrella term for ‘ethical practices in research’ such that ‘research integrity’ ought to be subsumed within that. We formulated a broader notion for a ‘lack of integrity’ which is in direct opposition to the values and virtues that we see as fairly established – these are termed research ‘vices’. These too need to be clarified as follows: