Wikiversity:Research ethics

These guidelines are under development and should be read in conjunction with Wikiversity:Original research, Wikiversity:Scholarly ethics, and Wikiversity:Research process.

The ethical guidelines for scientific research in the developed world are well established by governmental agencies, professional societies, universities, and journal publishers.

Research ethics try to answer what actions are good, and what actions are bad. The key issues for research published on Wikiversity are:

  • Verifiability - Research projects must fully document the methods, original motivations, and hypotheses. Research in progress must be clearly labeled as such.
  • Honesty - Research results are always honestly reported and without omissions, even if the results are undesirable, don't fit predetermined beliefs, or proposed hypotheses. Don't lead participants into drawing specific conclusions.
  • Transparency - Research reports must clearly explain everything done in the course of the research in a open and transparent manner so that other participants can draw their own independent conclusions.
  • Objectivity - Strive to conduct and report research in a way that allows experts to independently test, verify and confirm the validity of the research.
  • Subjectivity - You are free to express your views and opinions, but they should be clearly identified as such.
  • Disclosures - Any biases or potential conflicts of interest must be declared at the start of research projects. This fosters trust, and helps the community to understand your point of view.
  • Sources - When sources of previous knowledge, data or other information is relied on cite your sources. This allows examination of those works too. Be clear to distinguish previous knowledge from new knowledge.
  • Safety - Research must be conducted in a safe and lawful manner. Do no harm.
  • Review process - The peer-review process contributes to quality control and is an essential step to ascertain the standing and originality of a research project.

Institutional review boards

The ethics of research have partly been institutionalized in the United States and some other countries. If you wish to do research involving humans, you are often required to get research approval from an institutional review board (IRB) or institutional ethics committee (IEC). If research hasn't gone through an IRB, you can't get funding, and most co-authors and journals won't touch the research. Research involving the use of animals typically goes through another board review called an institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC).

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