A Pint of Ethics

A Pint of Ethics ONLINE

“This wasn’t an issue that had been covered in my CUREC application. I wondered whether I was being an ethical researcher”

 

We have all had moments like that during our research – where unexpected situations make us question the limits of responsible and ethical research. Often, the events that make us question our ethics are relatively innocuous daily occurrences. Examples of these “ethical instances” could include:

  • Being invited to the home of a fieldwork participant for a social event
  • Receiving gifts from fieldwork participants or host institutions
  • Being asked to raise awareness about a political situation in your fieldwork country

 
While researchers make commitments to protecting their research participants and the data they gather in the CUREC forms, how these daily issues fit into these broad commitments is far from clear. Researchers must often trust their own judgement in navigating these “ethical instances”. This can place unnecessary stress on the researcher, as they wonder whether they have selected the right course of action.
 
What is needed is an uncritical space in which to discuss “ethical instances” and seek advice from our peers. This space is Pint of Ethics, a fortnightly online meet-up hosted by the Social Sciences division. 
 
What is A Pint of Ethics, and how can I get involved?
A Pint of Ethics is a voluntary online meet-up every second Wednesday of the month. Join to discuss “ethical instances”, raise queries and get advice. Topics can be submitted anonymously HERE, or raised in discussion. The events will be chaired by an early career researcher, but discussion is intended to crowdsource experiences and expertise to learn from. All discussions will be conducted under Chatham House rules to protect the privacy of discussants and fieldwork participants. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Open Science is becoming a central feature of modern research. Key movements within Open Science – such as Open Access publication, Open Data and data sharing, and Open Educational Resources – are becoming integral features of our understanding of responsible research practices.  Despite widespread individual, institutional and national support for Open Science, it is widely recognized that achieving openness in research requires personal, financial and institutional commitment. Indeed, there is no “one size that fits all” when it comes to being an open researcher.

The challenges of achieving openness in research are particularly pronounced in relation to data sharing. The variability of research data formats, methods of collection and modes of dissemination and re-use necessitate that individual researchers develop research/context-appropriate methods for sharing their data. In this Pint of Ethics session we discuss issues of data sharing in detail. In particular, we consider questions such as:

  • Personal concerns around sharing data
  • Balancing commitments to study participants, collaborators and institutions with a commitment to data sharing
  • Knowing where, when and how to share data
  • Ensuring that the data that are shared are accessible to all stakeholders who could re-use it

This is not a technical session about research data management, but rather an opportunity to discuss the sharing of research data, air concerns about Open Data/data sharing and hear about the experiences of others who have engaged in these Open Science practices.

 

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As academics we are used to critically evaluating the work of our peers and those within our discipline. This is what we are trained to do, and what we (usually) do well. Even when we are evaluating research outside of our disciplines, we often feel confident that our understanding of the methodologies and the theoretical backgrounds allows us to critically comment on the research being done.
 
Nonetheless, such issues are not always clear-cut. The current COVID-19 pandemic is giving rise to a plethora of “rapid response” and engagement activities that have dual objectives of research and impact. From a social science perspective, some of these projects may raise concerns to us as social science/humanities – both in terms of short and long-term impact.
 
As early career researchers it can be difficult to raise such concerns to researchers who may be more established, based at different institutions and working in different fields. In this Pint of Ethics session we discuss this issue in more detail, examining how we might raise such concerns, where our responsibility lies and who we should involve.

 

 

As we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic many of us have been invited to participate in “rapid response” projects to deal with the fall-out of virus and the mitigation strategies. In addition, as the world’s focus turns to the COVID-19 it seems that our research – both present and future – needs to address some aspect of the current crisis in order to remain pertinent and topical. These issues can place researchers in difficult positions and raise some important ethical considerations.

These could include:

  • Should one allow the “urgent” (rapid response initiatives) to drive out the “important” (continuing research projects)? If so, is there a limit on the time one should be committing to such activities?
  • Should one attempt to make research topical by linking it to the COVID-19 situation?
  • How do we frame our research – for academic audiences, the public and funders – as we emerge out of lockdown? Are there compromises that we need to make?

 

Such issues are only starting to emerge, and indeed there are no clear-cut answers to the questions above. In this Pint of Ethics session we will start discussions on these topics and hopefully learn from the experiences and opinions of others. Please come along to discuss these important issues, and to raise the concerns that might have been starting appear.