To know clearly the definition of ethics, the concept of morality must be understood. This is because ethics is anchored on moral standards that must be followed. Morality is a set of unwritten rules that guides individuals on the things that they should or should not do in order to attain harmony and orderliness in any undertaking. With this, ethics can be defined as the process of applying moral standards and principles in any undertaking.
In the context of research, ethics may be defined as a methodology or perspective in making sound and right decisions pertaining to actions to be taken, and the analysis of intricate problems and issues. For instance, in a complicated project like building an electric power plant in the ancestral domains of an indigenous tribe, a research considering the ecological, political, economic, and ethical issues must be undertaken. This is to ensure that the indigenous people will not be harmed, let alone be exploited. Through this, the culture and tradition of the said tribe, as well as their rights, will be protected and preserved.
Why should ethics be considered in conducting research?
Ethics keeps the researcher from committing misconduct while seeking knowledge and truth, and respecting and protecting the rights of the respondents—humans or animals. Ethics promotes essential values that help researchers to have a common understanding and work on a topic harmoniously. Since some research studies may involve several experts coming from different fields of expertise, ethics binds them together in the spirit of important values such as accountability, cooperation, coordination, mutual respect, and fairness, among others.
Consideration of ethical principles also draws out public trust. Many research-funding sources or institutions choose to support research studies that have high regard for moral and social values. In fact, these agencies compel research proponents to submit an ethics board’s approval before considering a project for financial support or even in the publication of research write-ups.