2.5 Open Research Ethics Summary

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So far we have looked at institutional processes governing research and ways in which the same principles might be applied outside of institutional requirements. We also considered the ethical implications of being open and the kinds of virtues we might expect open researchers to have.

It’s not enough to simply know about good research methods: it’s also important to practice them consistently.

The real point to take away from this part of the course is that open researchers need to be bound by the same ethical codes as traditional research. There is even a case for saying that open researchers need a stronger ethical code because they don’t have the same support as institutional researchers. So it’s crucial that as an open researcher you develop your own moral compass.

There’s lots more to be said about ethics. Activity 5 can take you to a MOOC where you can learn more about philosophical ethics and get a better understanding of how to make moral judgments.

Activity 9: Philosophical Ethics (optional, 2 hours)

Peter Singer is a moral philosopher who has contributed a MOOC on ethics to Coursera. If you have the time, consider taking (or reviewing) Peter Singer's MOOC on 'Practical Ethics' for a better understanding of ethical judgment. (The full course is 12 weeks long.)

Focus on the following weeks:

  • Week 1 ‘Objectivity in ethics’
  • Week 2 ‘The role of reasoning in ethics’
  • Week 10 ‘Why we should act ethically’

Use these materials to help you think about your own values and ethical decision-making processes. Do you act from judgement, or emotion? How do you account for the perspectives of others? Are your approaches to ethics consistent? Philosophical ethics can help us to arrive at answers to these questions.

Since every research project is different you may still have questions or things that you are unsure about. It’s important to keep thinking for yourself, making judgments about the ethics of research activity and the impact openness can have on research.

Here are some additional links to useful resources and further reading.


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