Research Ethics Lecture By Dr. Ghazala Ali KhanResearch Ethics Lecture By Dr. Ghazala Ali Khan

“Derived from the Greek ethos, meaning character, custom, or usage, or morality (from the Latin synonym meaning manner, custom or habit)

▶“Research ethics resolves practical problems in the conduct of research.

Ethics are moral principles and values that guide human behavior and decision-making, shaping how we treat ourselves, others, and the world around us.

Ethics can apply to various aspects of life, such as:

-Medical ethics (e.g., patient confidentiality)

– Business ethics (e.g., fair trade practices)

– Environmental ethics (e.g., sustainability)

– Personal ethics (e.g., honesty, integrity)

-Professional ethics (e.g., codes of conduct)

Unethical behavior (Incorrect or unacceptable) / Social behavior shapes some of our ethical standards.

Ethics and Success :

“Ethics are not a choice, but a foundation that success might overlook or compromise.” Or, in even simpler terms: “Success can sometimes lead to neglecting ethical principles.

▶Why some professors/seniors don’t teach ethics??

▶They are not aware or well-qualified

▶By the time students go to college their character is already shaped

▶High expectations:

-We teach Mathematics but don’t’ expect students to be   Mathematicians.

-We teach ethics to inform and not to make students ethicists

▶Students don’t understand how to cite references properly
and that leads them to plagiarize.

▶Teachers don’t gossip and obey the rules.

▶Running an experiment and using 96% of results. What do we do with the remaining 4%

▶How much work must be quoted without citation to plagiarize?

▶Forgot to include a source or simply negligence.

▶Policies and standards of the University or the institution should be taught to the students.

▶Make sure that policies and standards are followed properly

•Before it used to be monitoring, but now it is not enough since labs are growing and more money and deadlines are involved

▶Telling students where to go with ethical concerns and which dean/faculty to talk to if he needs that.

▶I must get this grant

▶I need to get published

▶I must meet this deadline

Getting some thing done might seem more important than how to get it done.

▶Talk about the outcome of forging data and future consequences

  Forging data is the same as data fabrication and is related to data falsification.

▶Patience and immediate result problem

Teach students to talk to teachers:

▶Protest the load of work

▶Designed experiment is not working and that is leading to this data. Change the design.

▶Ask for help when they need it and help them when they ask.

▶When things are not clear any more, step back and think objectively.

▶Reduce the load of work

▶Always think that there is an acceptable and ethical outcome

▶Teach students to think under stress

What to do when you see some one behaving unethically?

▶Relationship with that person will change the way you deal with the situation

A fellow faculty or a competitor.

▶Students make mistakes, you need to tell them that it is wrong to do it that way and direct them to the right way

Witnessing misconduct

▶Make sure that there is abuse by documenting misconduct and try to get witnesses and facts

▶Prepare a solid foundation

▶Approaching the situation the right way

▶Can you explain those anomalies to me?   OR   How long have you been forging data?

If the person denies misconduct you need to go to higher level.

Students must be taught to:

▶Blow the whistle and report misconduct

▶Which dean/faculty to talk to?

▶What are the policies and regulations?

▶What is an approved procedure for reporting misconduct?

Moral Sensitivity:

▶“ The ability to recognize an issue or a problem as a moral problem”

 (Penslar,1995 ).

▶Identifying actions or ranges of actions that might define some actions that are ethical and some actions that are unethical like the use of animals in research.

Moral reasoning:

▶“Is the process of thinking about proper course of action when faced with an ethical challenge” (Penslar, 1995 ).

▶Not different from scientific reasoning but practice is a good idea.

Moral commitment:

▶“Is what takes to choose a ethically sound course of action over an unethical course of action” (Penslar, 1995 ).

What is the primary commitment



▶Successful research

Drawing the line between good research and ethical research is not always clear.

▶“Good research is concerned with the integrity and the soundness of data, where as research ethics is concerned with the means the data was collected” (Penslar, 1995 ).

Research ethics is concerned with the well-being of others( Society, other people, animals) while Good research does not necessarily do that.

Issues in research ethics:

▶Conduct of individuals

▶Research fraud

▶Mistreatment of lab animals

▶Accuracy and honesty in reporting results


▶Violation of intellectual property rights

▶Conflict of interests ( researchers among each other or researchers and universities)

▶Check if a research is harmful to the society or to individuals. How universities should resolve their conflicts among them selves.

▶Helpful resources:

▶Professional codes

▶Statement of moral norms by members of a profession

▶Government regulations

▶More like laws

▶Use of humans as subjects of experiments


▶Cultural customs

▶Ethical theories:

▶Consequential ethics

▶Mandatory ethics

▶Casuistical ethics

▶Virtue ethics

▶What are the possible harms that might result of an erroneous publication?

▶What response from me knowing that the results are wrong will result in more harm than good?

▶What harm might be done if the research results are not corrected?

▶What harm might I cause that person if I bring the subject out?

▶What are the benefits of talking to that person first?

▶What if that person used my approach to cover his/her track.

▶How each action will affect that person if he is innocent?

What is my duty if I discover errors in some research?

What is the right thing to do in this case?

Were those errors caused deliberately or negligently?

If negligently, what is the best way to reverse the effect of the misinterpreted information?

If deliberately then I must report this situation or get an investigation started.

Some acts are right or wrong regardless of the consequences

We decide if an act is right or wrong by following rules that are supported or justified by principles.


“Don’t deliberately distort your data by eliminating outliers” is a rule, but truthfulness is a principle.

▶Is this a case of intentional wrong doing, where the researcher deliberately published false information for personal gain?

This is clearly unethical

▶Is this a case of negligent oversight, where the researcher did not the check the results before submitting them to publication?

▶You may need to find more information about the motives before making any decision.

▶What is the person’s moral character?

▶Is this the first time that this happens with this person?

▶How likely is he to deal with this issue honestly?

▶Is he going to take use of my good will approach to uncover the errors?

▶Would uncovering the errors damage his reputation and character as a researcher?

▶What are my motives behind uncovering those errors?

▶Do I hold a grudge against this person and I want to see him suffer even if his mistakes were not intentional?

Basic ethical principles

Respect for persons:

▶The person should be treated as autonomous.

▶The person with diminished autonomy is entitled to protection.

(controlled by others or incapable of deliberating or acting on the basis of his or her desires and plans.)

Who is an autonomous person:

▶Can think and discuss his personal goals and act under those goals.

▶Protect those who cannot make their own self-determination or are not eligible for doing so.


▶Not only respect their decisions and protect them from harm but also make an effort to secure their well being.

▶Think of this as an obligation and not a charity.

▶Do not harm,  and maximize possible benefits and minimize possible harms.


▶The right to be treated equally.

▶Some one is denied benefits for no obvious reason.

▶The principle of fairness in distribution.

Also read: DATA Collection And DATA Analysis Methods Lecture By Dr. Ghazala Ali Khan


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