Five Dimensions of Research Ethics: A Stakeholder Framework for Creating a Climate of Research Integrity

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Abstract

The authors explore five dimensions of research ethics: (1) normative ethics, which includes meta-ethical questions; (2) compliance with regulations, statutes, and institutional policies; (3) the rigor and reproducibility of science; (4) social value; and (5) workplace relationships. Each of the five dimensions is important not only because it addresses an aspect of good research done in a good manner but also because it addresses the concerns of key stakeholders in the research enterprise. The five-dimension framework can guide institutions as they answer three questions central to any research ethics program: (1) Who should champion research ethics? (2) What should interventions look like? and (3) Who should participate in the interventions? The framework is valuable because the answers to these three questions are radically different depending on the dimension under consideration. An expanded vision of research ethics does not entail that institutions should require additional online training or approvals from institutional review boards. However, without acknowledging all five dimensions, programs risk missing an important aspect of research ethics or ignoring the interests of important stakeholders.

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