Research Ethics

Researchers are professionals hence, research ethics as a branch of applied ethics has well established rules and guidelines that defines their conduct. Research ethics is important in our daily life research endeavours and requires that researchers should protect the dignity of their subjects and publish well the information that is researched (Fouka & Mantzorou, 2011). There are two dominant philosophical approaches with regard to research ethics: teleology and deontology (Blumberg et al, 2005). The teleological view holds that the ends served by the research justify the means. This implies that the benefits of the research findings could be weighed against the costs of acting unethically.

But, this depends on the comparison made about the relative good over the evil produced (Frankena, 2001). While the deontological theories which are the opposite of teleological theories state that the ends served by the research can never justify the use of research which is unethical. They assert that there are considerations which make an action or rule right besides the goodness or badness of its consequences (Frankena, 2001). An action can be morally right even if it does not promote the greatest balance of good over evil. Hence, one cannot use deception to ensure validity and reliability of data. Having discussed the meaning of ethics and the two major standpoints that could be used in conceptualizing research ethics, it is vital to examine the origin of research ethics and the theories related to it in contemporary research.

Genesis of research ethics

The purpose of embracing research ethics is premised in the field of biomedical research which arose from the need to use human beings in research. This development dates back even before the 18th century although the need to develop appropriate attitudes towards the need to evolve great interest in human beings was seriously taken into consideration starting from 9th December 1946 when an American tribunal opened criminal proceedings against 23 leading German physicians and administrators who willingly participated in war crimes and crimes against humanity (Kour, 2014). .

The results of this trial led to the establishment of the Nuremberg code in 1948 because, human beings were being exploited in various cases. This then necessitated the introduction of professional codes and laws to prevent the abuse of human subjects and protection of human rights in research (Oddi &Cassidy, 1990; Fouka and Mantzorou, 2011). The Nuremberg code emphasized the need to observe informed voluntary consent, liberty of withdrawal from research, protection from physical and mental harm or suffering and death with particular emphasis on the risk-benefit balance (Burns, 2005).

There is a growing acceptance that experiential narrative provides a sound research tool that allows academics to explore social processes and relationships (e.g. Estrella & Gaventa, 1998; Estrella et al., 2000). Importantly, it also provides empowering professional development options (Cloke, 1994). Using experiential narrative, one of the mentors has both explored his own professional development (e.g. Boyd, 2011) and mentored early career academics seeking to engage research schoollarship more fully. In both situations, the work has also contributed to the scholarship of teaching and learning, providing new discipline-specific knowledge (e.g. Boyd et al., 2010, 2012; Boyd & Horta, 2011; Boyd & Newton, 2011).

The other mentor is well experienced in teaching and learning in higher education, and has studied the nature of supervisory relationships (Parry, 2007) and the changing nature of knowledge (Becher & Parry, 2005). Academics and scholars write. Writing is important. It contributes to how we conceptualise our intellectual develop-ment (Lea & Stierer, 2009). The primary, and often institutionally privileged, focus is on academics as writers for scholarly publication and for reflective professional development. However, in neither case is the writing itself viewed or valued as academic and professional practice in its own right (Lea & Stierer, 2009: 420); it is a usually just a mode of reportage.

The present study emerges from the ethical and intellectual value that even those academics who publish little, or who do not write reflectively to any great extent, have a core of their professional practice—Lea and Stierer’s “everyday writing”—that provides a springboard for any mentor to work with in supporting his or her peers or candidates. In drawing on this practice, the present study explicitly links pragmatic experience and narrative with a negotiated, broadly interpreted theoretical tradition. The present study harnesses the research team members’ personal reflective narratives about being mentored to learn the ethics and crossdisciplinary conventions they must meet in developing their ethics applications


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