Becoming an ethical researcher
Becoming an ethical researcher

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

3.2 Safeguarding

Described image
Figure 6 Can we keep everything we are told confidential?

Offering confidentiality has already been mentioned as important for showing respect. If you are a professional and know the professional code to which you are beholden, then you will be aware of the limits to confidentiality professionals can offer. Professionals have legal responsibilities related to safeguarding and protection of both children and vulnerable adults to help protect their rights under the Care Act (HM Government, 2014) and the Children Act (HM Government, 2004). In terms of their protection, this means that there is a collective responsibility to share information about criminal activity or circumstances which appear to threaten a minor or vulnerable adult’s safety or wellbeing, if this is disclosed. This legal obligation affects us all as we work as researchers collecting data from human participants; for example, as encapsulated in the UK government advice for children:

16. Everyone who works with children has a responsibility for keeping them safe. No single practitioner can have a full picture of a child’s needs and circumstances and, if children and families are to receive the right help at the right time, everyone who comes into contact with them has a role to play in identifying concerns, sharing information and taking prompt action. (HM Government, 2018, p. 10).

Activity 6 Maintaining confidentiality

Timing: Allow approximately 20 minutes
Guest users do not have permission to interact with embedded questions.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

As will be covered more fully in Session 6, when looking at reporting and disseminating research, confidentiality (and associated anonymity) is sometimes found to be in tension with copyright laws and the rights others have for their original work to be acknowledged. This mainly affects published work, which researchers draw on and want to cite. A summary of these rights can be found at the University of Nottingham’s copyright basics webpage [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] and the implications for researchers, especially aimed at doctoral researchers, can be found at the University of Nottingham’s copyright and research webpage. (Open the links in a new tab or window by holding down Ctrl [or Cmd on a Mac] when you click on the link.)

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371