Free course

Becoming an ethical researcher

Free statement of participation on completion
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Becoming an ethical researcher

Note:This course will be closed on the 11th July 2022 and is due to be updated and refreshed. We are looking to release this agin on the 25th July 2022.

This free course, Becoming an ethical researcher, explores the ethics of planning, carrying out and reporting research which involves human participants. It will sensitise you to issues that a researcher should consider to support ethical and well-justified decision-making.

A wide variety of research scenarios are used to stimulate individual reflection and discussion on the course forum, participation in which, together with successful completion of quizzes, will contribute to gaining a digital badge.


Enrolling on the course will give you the opportunity to earn an Open University digital badge. Badges are not accredited by The Open University but they're a great way to demonstrate your interest in the subject and commitment to your career, and to provide evidence of continuing professional development.

Once you are signed in, you can manage your digital badges online from My OpenLearn. In addition, you can download and print your OpenLearn statement of participation – which also displays your Open University badge.

The Open University would really appreciate a few minutes of your time to tell us about yourself and your expectations for the course before you begin, in our start-of-course survey 6666. Once you complete the course we would also value your feedback and suggestions for future improvement, in our end-of-course survey 6767. Participation will be completely confidential and we will not pass on your details to others. 

This course is endorsed by the CPD Standards Office .  It can be used to provide evidence of continuing professional development but is not accredited learning. We are unable to provide formal learner verification services for participation in our open online courses, which are provided freely by The Open University as self-directed CPD.  

Anyone wishing to provide evidence of their enrolment on this course is able to do so by sharing their Activity Record on their OpenLearn Profile, which is available before completion of the course and earning of the Statement of Participation.

Becoming an ethical researcher

Earn this free Open University digital badge if you complete this course! The badge can be displayed, shared and downloaded as a marker of your achievement. The badge is awarded for completing the course and passing the quizzes.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • anticipate ethical issues in research with humans which need a researcher’s attention
  • think through options available to a researcher from an ethical perspective
  • offer an ethical rationale for decisions made as a researcher
  • feel confident in dealing with unanticipated issues as they arise during research
  • act ethically when planning, conducting and reporting research with humans.

First Published: 01/10/2020

Updated: 01/10/2020

You can start this course right now without signing-up. Click on any of the course content sections below to start at any point in this course.
If you want to be able to track your progress, earn a free Statement of Participation, and access all course quizzes and activities, sign-up.

Course content

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