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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Ethical Challenges and Some Solutions for Field Experiments (Papers: Scott Desposato | November 2014)0

Posted by Admin in on April 13, 2018

The recent controversy over a field experiment conducted in Montana during an election has many political scientists debating the ethics of interventions in “the real world”. Much of this discussion focuses on the fact that the experiment may have violated electoral law and may not have had all required IRB reviews. However, absent some technical shortcomings, the study is identical to dozens of others that have been run all over the world. The bigger questions here are whether we can ethically run experiments that could affect millions of subjects and bystanders without their consent. I discuss some of the features that distinguish political science from other fields and over some suggestions for best practices in field experiments.

Desposato, S. (2014) ‘Ethical Challenges and some Solutions for Field Experiments’. Accessed 13 April 2018

3 Strategies for Accountable, Ethical Online Behavior Research – Medium (J. Nathan Matias | November 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on April 13, 2018

Help CivilServant develop ways to inform people about their participation in online research and hold us accountable

In 2014, after researchers worked with Facebook to test the effect of newsfeed adjustments on the emotional tone of people’s future posts, academics took a closer look at the ethics of online behavioral research, in the midst of a wider public debate over the power of online platforms in society.

A very interesting (made even more topical by the Facebook/Cambridge/Kogan media storm) discussion about consent, privacy and ethical review for social media and other web2.o research. We’ve included links to a trove of other resource items. These topics have huge impacts far beyond a news cycle and the human research ethics sphere.

Two ideas were central to these conversations: consent and debriefing. In consent-based models of research, people are asked in advance if they are willing to participate in the study. Individual consent often works best under controlled, lab-style studies or surveys and interviews, where it’s easy to decide which people are part of a study and which people aren’t. Debriefing is a process where people are told after the study. Debriefing is also a way to identify any unexpected, harmful effects that the researchers weren’t looking out for, so the harms can be addressed.
In field research, which tests ideas out in the world, individual consent and debriefing can be hard to acquire. For example, consider this study that tested the effect of lawn signs on voter participation rates. It wouldn’t be possible to obtain the advance consent of every single driver who passed by the signs; it would be impossible to predict exactly who would drive by. Even if you could obtain consent, you wouldn’t be able to show or hide the sign for people who hadn’t consented to the study. Likewise with debriefing: a researcher might be able to place a camera next to every sign in order to figure out the license plate, identity, and address of everyone who passed by, but in the effort to contact everyone in the study about ethics, the ethics procedure might become more risky and intrusive than the original study.

Read the rest of this guidance piece

Dealing with Un(Expected) Ethical Dilemma: Experience from the Field (Papers: Zaleha Othman and Fathilatul Zakimi Hamid | 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on April 10, 2018

Despite the growing interest in qualitative research and discussion of ethics, there has been little focus in the literature on the specific ethical dilemmas faced by researchers. In this paper, we share our fieldwork experiences regarding the ethical dilemmas that we encountered while doing research on a sensitive topic. Specifically, we share some of the ethical dilemmas, that is, concerning confidentiality, anonymity, legitimacy, controversial data, interpretation and off -the-record data, which emerged from the research. Most importantly, this paper shares ideas concerning how researchers might deal with ethical issues while preserving their integrity in the research process. Overall, this paper suggests approaches that qualitative researchers can adopt when doing research on sensitive topics. the paper contributes towards closing an existing gap in the literature, making visible the challenges frequently faced by qualitative researchers, that is, the vulnerability of researchers while preserving research integrity. Finally, this paper concludes with the suggestion that ethical dilemmas are part of the research process in doing qualitative research. However, it is suggested that future research should focus on ethical issues from the perspective of the researchers as well as the respondents.

Ethical Dilemma, Research, Sensitive, Qualitative Research, Con dential, Anonymity

Othman Z. & Abdul Hamid, F. (2018). Dealing with Un(Expected) Ethical Dilemma: Experience from the Field. The Qualitative Report, 23(4), 733-741. Retrieved from
Publisher (Creative Commons):

(Norway) Guidelines for Research Ethics in the Social Sciences, Humanities, Law and Theology – NESH (Guidelines | 2016)0

Posted by Admin in on April 3, 2018

The three National Research Ethics Committees (NEM, NENT and NESH) were established in 1990, based on the Proposition to the Storting No. 28 (1988–1989) Om forskning. In 2007, the Research Ethics Act provided a legal mandate for the three committees and also for the establishment of a National Commission for the Investigation of Research Misconduct. With effect from 1 January 2013, the Norwegian National Research Ethics Committees (FEK) was established as an independent administrative agency under the Ministry of Education and Research. The three committees and the commission are part of the admin- istrative agency, and they all have a central role promoting research ethics in the national research system.

The National Committee for Research Ethics in the Social Sciences and the Humanities (NESH) is an impartial advisory body established to provide guidelines for research ethics and to promote good and responsible research.

The first version of NESH’s guidelines was adopted in 1993 and later amended in 1999 and 2006. The present round of revision has been discussed in NESH since 2013, and a new version was sent on national consultation in May 2015. This is the fourth edition of NESH’s Guidelines for Research Ethics in the Social Sciences, Humanities, Law and Theology.1…


Research ethics
Ethical guidelines and legislation
Other institutions and authorities

A) Research, society and ethics
1 Norms and values of research
2 Freedom of research
3 Responsibility of research
4 Responsibility of institutions

B) Respect for individuals
5 Human dignity
6 Privacy
7 Duty to inform
8 Consent and obligation to notify
9 Confidentiality
10 Limited re-use
11 Storage of personal data
12 Responsibility for avoiding harm
13 Respect for third parties
14 Protection of children
15 Respect for privacy and family life
16 Respect for the values and motives of others
17 Respect for posthumous reputations
18 Defining roles and responsibilities

C) Respect for groups and institutions
19 Respect for private interests
20 Respect for public administration
21 Respect for vulnerable groups
22 Preservation of cultural monuments and remains
23 Research on other cultures
24 Limits on cultural recognition

D) The research community
25 Co-authorship
26 Good citation practice
27 Plagiarism
28 Scientific integrity
29 Data sharing
30 Impartiality
31 Relations with colleagues
32 The student-supervisor relationship 32 33 Responsibilities of supervisors and project managers 33

E) Commissioned research
34 Different types of research
35 Commissioned research
36 The responsibility of researchers in large projects
37 Independence and conflict of interests
38 Transparency in research funding
39 Presentation and use of results
40 Right and duty to publish

F) Dissemination of research
41 Dissemination as an academic responsibility
42 Requirements for individuals and institutions
43 Interdisciplinary discourse and public deliberation
44 Participation in public debate
45 Accountability in dissemination
46 Reporting results to participants

Norwegian National Research Ethics Committees (2016) Guidelines for Research Ethics in the Social Sciences, Humanities, Law and Theology.