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Research ethics

Recommendations on observing ethical principles in empirical research.

Research may inflict harm on individuals (those being researched as well as the researchers themselves), groups, and even entire societies. Research ethical norms and regulations aim to guide research practices in a way that avoids harm while safeguarding the freedom of research. A central tenet of research ethics is reflexivity with regard to the principles and values that guide research practices and the researcher-researched relationship.

There is an increasing awareness of research ethical issues in the social and economic sciences, and researchers are often expected to present proof of ethical approval, for example, in order to obtain research funding or publish in journals on a European and international level. The German Data Forum (RatSWD) deals intensively with research ethics and their implementation in the scientific community, and has set up working groups for this purpose in the current 7th appointment period, and previously in the 5th appointment period.

Overview of the German Data Forum's activities, resources, and work results on the topic of research ethics:

Overview of local ethics commissions in Germany

A regularly updated list of the German local ethics commissions landscape [German] in the social and economic sciences

Recommendations of the German Data Forum (RatSWD)

Teaching and training materials for use in higher education
Fundamentals of research ethics in social and economic research [German]

RatSWD Output Paper 9 (5)
Principles and Review Procedures of Research Ethics in the Social and Economic Sciences

RatSWD Output Paper 6 (6)
Data collection using new information technology
Recommendations on data quality, data management, research ethics, and data protection

Principles and Review Procedures
Executive Summary of the German Data Forum’s recommendations on principles and review procedures of research ethics in the social and economic sciences

Press release
Institutionalising Research Ethics – Recommendations of the German Data Forum (11.07.2017)

Forum Research Ethics at the 7|KSWD

forum on research ethics at the 7th Conference for Social and Economic Data (7|KSWD) in February 2017 looked at research ethical principles and infrastructures. It was headed by Prof. Dr. Hella von Unger.

Working groups in the 7th and 5th appointment period

The Working Group (WG) Research Ethics of the German Data Forum (RatSWD) aims at fostering a common understanding of research ethical principles and reviews procedures in the social and economic sciences in Germany. To do so, working groups are developing recommendations to guide the emergence of a new infrastructure.

To the work programme of the current WG Research Ethics of the 7th appointment period (2020 – 2023)

Work results of the WG Research Ethics of the 5th appointment period (2014 – 2017)

Articles in the RatSWD Working Paper Series on research ethics

Working Paper #269/2019
Gert G. Wagner: “Eine ‘Ethik der Politikberatung’ gehört zur Forschungsethik”

Working Paper #265/2017
Gert G. Wagner: “Anmerkungen zu den vielfältigen Dimensionen einer Forschungsethik in den Sozial-, Verhaltens- und Sozialwissenschaften”

Working Paper #264/2017
Katrin Schaar: “Die informierte Einwilligung als Voraussetzung für die (Nach-)nutzung von Forschungsdaten”

Working Paper #259/2017
Hella von Unger, Hansjörg Dilger & Michael Schönhuth: “Ethikbegutachtung in der sozial- und kulturwissenschaftlichen Forschung? Ein Debattenbeitrag aus soziologischer und ethnologischer Sicht”

Working Paper #255/2016
Eckard Kämper: “Risiken sozialwissenschaftlicher Forschung? Forschungsethik, Datenschutz und Schutz von Persönlichkeitsrechten in den Sozial- und Verhaltenswissenschaften”

Working Paper #253/2016
Hella von Unger und Dagmar Simon: “Ethikkommissionen in den Sozialwissenschaften ‒ Historische Entwicklungen und internationale Kontroversen”