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 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
Institutionalising Research Ethics – Recommendations of the German Data Forum (11.07.2017)
Forum Research Ethics at the 7|KSWD
A 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.
Articles in the RatSWD Working Paper Series on research ethics
- Der Stand der Dinge zur forschungsethischen Begutachtung in den Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaften
Strobel, A., Zeiler, A., & Schaar, K. (2022). RatSWD Working Paper 278
- Eine ‘Ethik der Politikberatung’ gehört zur Forschungsethik
Wagner, Gert G. (2019). RatSWD Working Paper 269
- Anmerkungen zu den vielfältigen Dimensionen einer Forschungsethik in den Sozial-, Verhaltens- und Sozialwissenschaften
Wagner, Gert G. (2017). RatSWD Working Paper 265
- Die informierte Einwilligung als Voraussetzung für die (Nach-)nutzung von Forschungsdaten
Schaar, Katrin (2017). RatSWD Working Paper 264
- Ethikbegutachtung in der sozial- und kulturwissenschaftlichen Forschung? Ein Debattenbeitrag aus soziologischer und ethnologischer Sicht
von Unger, Hella; Dilger, Hansjörg & Schönhuth, Michael (2017).
RatSWD Working Paper 259
- Risiken sozialwissenschaftlicher Forschung? Forschungsethik, Datenschutz und Schutz von Persönlichkeitsrechten in den Sozial- und Verhaltenswissenschaften
Kämper, Eckard (2016). RatSWD Working Paper 255
- Ethikkommissionen in den Sozialwissenschaften ‒ Historische Entwicklungen und internationale Kontroversen
von Unger, Hella & Simon, Dagmar (2016). RatSWD Working Paper 253
Press and news
- Press release 07.02.2023: New handout to disclosure of criminal offences: Researchers between the obligation of confidentiality and the duty of disclosure
- News 21.12.2022: WZB-Mitteilungen December 2022: Qualitätsfaktor Forschungsethik [German]
- Press release 29.06.2022: RatSWD launches “Best-Practice Research Ethics” portal
- News 02.03.2022: High demand for research ethics review and support services among researchers
- News 24.01.2022: Coffee Lecture on Research Ethics and QualidataNet [German]
- News 18.03.2021: Expanding research ethics: What support services are needed?
- Press release 18.02.2021: German Data Forum (RatSWD) calls for securing the confidentiality of research data