Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Download this course

Share this free course

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.

1 Becoming an ethical researcher

Described image
Figure 2 Research should shed light and offer insights in ways that are respectful

How do you become an ethical researcher? Are there guidelines? Is it obvious, or are there more nuanced issues to take into account?

This course will help you think through why ethics always matter, whatever level of research you are considering.

Most professional researchers seek ethical clearance formally from a university ethics board. If you are researching independently, you still have a duty to plan ahead, comply with safety guidelines, discuss any problems with stakeholders in the research context and, ideally, a supervisor or interested peer. You also need to be alert to changing contexts and their implications for your research.

Activity 1 What constitutes ethical decision-making?

Timing: Allow approximately 10 minutes

Watch the following 1 minute 52 second video clip and consider the prompts below.

Channel 4: The Secret Life of Kids: 5 Year Olds [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] (open the video in a new tab or window by holding down Ctrl [or Cmd on a Mac] when you click on the link).

Think about:

  • What is motivating the children?
  • What is influencing the children?
  • How are the children going about the process of decision-making?
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).


Just like the children shown in the experiment in the video clip, deciding what to do is not just about following someone else’s rules, but about developing a strong ethical sense, so that you can judge ethics in context.