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ResourcesHuman Research EthicsEthics assessment in different fields: Social sciences (SATORI Deliverable 1.1)

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Ethics assessment in different fields: Social sciences (SATORI Deliverable 1.1)

 


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Excerpt: This report on ethical assessment of research and innovation in social sciences is a part of a comparative study across scientific fields and disciplines within a wider analysis of EU and
international practices of ethical assessment, made by the SATORI project. Ethical assessment in this analysis covers any kind of review or evaluation of research and innovation based on ethical principles. The report will focus on academic traditions of ethics assessment in the field, various types of (national and international) organisations involved in assessment and relevant legislation.

Social sciences are a group of academic disciplines that take human society as the object of their study, attempting to understand human behaviour, relationships and institutions within
society. Traditionally, the group includes sociology, psychology, anthropology, economics, law and political science, although there is no outright consensus on which disciplines should
be included. A large number of subfields have and keep emerging, including human geography, cultural studies, business studies, communication studies, development studies, criminology, etc.

A wide range of ethical issues is discussed in the social sciences. Informed consent, confidentiality, avoiding harm, doing good, relations to peers and research integrity are all part of standard ethical guidelines in many of its disciplines. Even though this list may seem similar to issues in other scientific fields, especially in biomedicine, it is important to acknowledge that the nature and methodologies of social science research imply different kinds of ethical risks, especially concerning research participants. Potential for harm resides less in health and injury risks and rather in psychological distress and the danger of stigmatisation if sensitive private information is disclosed. Social scientists often emphasise the need to reflect the proper nature of these risks in ethical assessment protocols.

Gurzawska, A., & R. Benčin, “Ethics assessment in different fields: Social sciences”, Annex 2.d, Ethical Assessment of Research and Innovation: A Comparative Analysis of Practices and Institutions in the EU and selected other countries, SATORI Deliverable 1.1, June 2015. http://satoriproject.eu/media/2.d-Social-Sciences.pdf



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