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Principles and Review Procedures of Research Ethics in the Social and Economic Sciences

This is a translated version of the executive summary of the RatSWD Output 9 (5) „Forschungsethische Grundsätze und Prüfverfahren in den Sozial- und Wirtschaftswissenschaften“.

Publication details

Publication Date:
9 (5)

Executive Summary
There is a need to act with regard to research ethics in the social and economic sciences in Germany. More recently, this realisation has led to a rise in ethics commissions at German social science and economics faculties, although this has been the result of individual and non-consolidated efforts. The following report is a first step towards a more comprehensive, interdisciplinary understanding of the principles of research ethics and review procedures in German social and economic research.

The German Data Forum’s recommendations are aimed at initiating the emergence of a new infrastructure comprised of local ethics commissions, which are embedded into a harmonised comprehensive concept for ethical reflexivity in research and build on existing structures, codes and international developments.

The following document gives an introductory overview of the relevant dimensions of research ethics. As a basis for the following recommendations, the first part outlines central research ethical principles, which include (1) scientific quality and integrity of researchers; (2) avoidance of harm to research subjects and researchers, and (3) informed consent. These principles are a summation of existing ethics codes of academic organisations in social and economic research, other relevant guidelines (e.g. „Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice“) and legal regulations (e.g. data protection). Moreover, they incorporate insights taken from the academic and professional discourse on a national as well as international level.