'The British Educational Research Association believes that all educational research should be conducted within an ethic of respect for the person, knowledge, democratic values, quality of educational research and academic freedom' (BERA Ethical Guidelines, 2011). Researchers have responsibilities linked to the research profession, participants, public, funding agencies, publication, relationships with host institution and so on. All research therefore faces ethical issues, and a past BERA president (and TLRP researcher) Anne Edwards discussed ways of being a researcher in her presidential address: 'Responsible Research: Ways of being a researcher' at the BERA Annual Conference, Leeds 2001. She argues:
Being an educational researcher is not an easy option. We are practitioners in an engaged social science which makes particular demands on us. These include responsibility to our field of study. In this address I argue that close-to-the-field research, that can do justice to the meaning making that occurs there, is an important part of the responsibility of the educational research community. Research of this kind, sometimes called interpretative or transformative research, calls for a form of engagement with the field which could be termed responsible agency. Because examinations of individual agency and responsibility must take into account contexts, their values and opportunities, I also examine how BERA as a Learned Society can sustain the identities of engaged researchers and how their revelations from the field can inform educational policy and the methodologies which shape educational enquiry.
Resources - codes of ethics:
The linked documents below are other sets of ethical guidelines produced by various professional and government bodies:
Doing the Right Thing – outlining the Department for Work and Pensions' approach to ethical and legal issues in social research, Bacon J and Olsen, K, DWP working Paper 11 (2003). The work on ethics is concerned with giving clarity about the duty beholden on researcher to undertake investigations sensitively, ethically and legally. They have produced a draft document, which includes a whole chapter on ethical issues and research methodology.
The British Psychological Society have also produced a Code of Ethics and Conduct (2009), which includes a section on research ethics.
The British Sociological Association too have produced a statement of ethical practice (2002) with reference to research issues.
The Government Social Research Unit has developed guidance for the ethical assurance of government social research (Ethical assurance for social research) and produced an interesting report on Ethics in social research: the view of research participants.
Guides to some of the issues arising in a consideration of ethics and research have been produced as part of a suite of resources on this topic for TLRP. These guides include: Ethics and Educational Research by Martyn Hammersley and Anna Traianou and Ethics and educational research: philosophical perspectives by David Bridges and colleagues.