If we consider data collection and its reporting to make up research, then we will all have been exposed to being participants in some form of social research. Data collection from people in society is now part of everyday life. Ethical research demands that respect is afforded to the rights and dignity of human participants. Studies need to be designed to be worthwhile and any potential harm anticipated and minimised. Ethical research requires thinking carefully about what constitutes participation in research and the responsibilities of researchers not only to participants, but also to all those affected by a study.
On this free online course you will be supported in reflecting on the value of ethical thinking for research and discover an ethical appraisal framework that you can apply to empirical research projects in social science, arts, education and the humanities. The course is designed to offer insights for both researchers and potential participants.
The course starts by exploring what ethics is and why it is important to research through a consideration of examples of studies which can be challenged in terms of their ethicality. In weeks 2-4 we will use an ethical appraisal framework to illustrate ways of thinking about the ethical implications of designing a study and recruiting participants, taking into consideration different stakeholder perspectives. In week 5 you will be able to apply the insights gained to a draft research proposal through a role play activity. To conclude, in week 6, we will reflect on how it is important to show integrity as a researcher whilst conducting and reporting studies. This will include thinking about what might go wrong in a study and how these issues might be anticipated.
This course has been developed by members of the University of Leicester College of Social Science, Arts and Humanities and is supported by an extensive set of resources for researchers on a website entitled Doing Ethical Research.
How a MOOC works
MOOCs are flexible courses which allow you to participate at your own pace. Once a course has started you can study the week's material at a time that suits you. You do not need to be online at the same time as the other students. There is no requirement to visit Leicester - although you would always be very welcome if you want to come and have a look around campus.
If you want to leave your course at any point you may do so, whether or not it has already begun. You can sign up for the same course when it runs again if you want to have another go at it. There is no limit on the number of MOOCs you can take: if you think you have the time to do several simultaneously, that's fine.