How To Apply Ethics to Your Research

February 2021 by


Applying ethics to your research is super important! It’s how you show the readers that you’ve researched morality and your participants in mind rather than going against important rules or regulations. There are many different principles you should follow to make sure your research is ethical and they’re all as equally important. Without applying ethics to your research, you could find yourself in trouble. So, if you want to find out exactly what ethics is and how to apply it to your work, keep reading!

What is research ethics?

The research ethics definition is to follow moral and professional codes throughout any research conducted, which can be in the collection of the research, the publication of the research, interviews, analysis and more. To break it down, it basically means being moral and professional throughout any research that you do. It helps to protect both yourself and your participants from harm, so it’s super important to make sure you utilise ethics to ensure you’re working in the right way.

One important thing to note is that research ethics can actually differ with the university that you attend. That’s why you must check out your universities website to find out exactly what their rules and regulations are.

So, what should you do?

  • Make sure you have consent

    Before you start any of your research, you must get consent from your participants. Without consent, you could find yourself in trouble for sharing anything that they say. You should outline to them the process they will undertake, alongside explaining to them what the research will be informing and what it will be used for. Then it’s important to get clearly written or recorded consent whilst offering them the right to withdraw at any time. This leaves no surprises for the participant and evidences their willingness to participate. If they ever wish to withdraw consent, you must delete the data they provided!

  • Keep anonymity

    To keep the data you’ve collected private, you should state to the participant that it will be kept anonymous. This basically just means you need to remove their name and any specifically identifiable information to uphold their privacy. They will likely feel more comfortable talking and sharing things with you as they know there are no direct links to themselves, and the information you collect will still be just as credible.

  • Keep confidentiality

    Much like anonymity, confidentiality is extremely important, and you need to stick by it. Any personal information or records shouldn’t be shared or accessible to anyone else. You also might find your participant wants to speak about something confidentially during your interview, and in that situation, it’s on you not to publish it and respect their wishes. A lot of research is about having a good relationship with those who contribute, so make sure to uphold this!

  • Maintain integrity

    Integrity is a quality you’ll find everywhere when talking about research ethics. It’s about being truthful and honourable in your research process. It means you should be 100% honest with everything you write, such as your findings, your outcomes and the process, even if there are a change of plans. If you’re dishonest, then your research is going to be inaccurate and no institution is going to let that slide! Research doesn’t always go the way you expect, but that isn’t always a bad thing. A lot of lecturers like you to reflect on your research, the rights and the wrongs. In some ways, unexpected research gives you more to talk about and usually some interesting new insights too, so make the most of it.

  • Respect the views of others

    As with any topic, you probably have an opinion of your own. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s important that when you’re interviewing participants, you respect their opinion whatever that may be. You’re allowed to disagree with people, but you don’t need to vocalise it; after all, research is all about hearing from other people. Not everybody will share your thoughts and it will make for a great perspective when it comes to writing up your research.

  • Avoid causing any harm

    Something extremely crucial is making sure that the participants don’t come to any harm during the research process. It won’t come as any surprise that this another principle regularly featured on universities websites. It’s your responsibility that no harm is caused and that can be anything like psychological harm, emotional harm to even physical harm. You need to know from the outset that your research is safe to conduct for everyone involved.

    These are just some of the most important ways to apply research ethics to your work. If you want to know more check out your university website to see what they recommend for you specifically. If you find you need help, check out our primary research services and we will be sure to assist you in the process! Good luck with your research!



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