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Research Methods – Research Ethics

  • About this Course

About this Course


In this course, Professor John Oates (The Open University) explores the ever-evolving field of research ethics. He begins by walking through research ethics as a specific practice within more general ethical frameworks, drawing on principles of moral philosophy. This first lecture goes on to establish both the function and origin of research ethics, contextualising its principles within the British Psychological Society’s ethics framework. The second lecture delves into an area of particular importance in the field – the ethics of research with children. One of the primary discussion points within this topic is the idea of consent and what constitutes valid/informed consent. This leads into lecture three, which broadens the conversation around consent to ways in which we might ascertain it as researchers. Lecture four tackles what happens when unexpected events arise in research, outlining the examples of incidental findings, participant disclosure, and adverse events. This lecture also addresses one of the more difficult aspects of research – deciding when to break a confidentiality agreement. The fifth and final lecture brings research ethics into the modern age by exploring both the facilitated opportunities and ethical dilemmas brought about by the three main types of internet-based research: participant active, participant passive, and observation.


John Oates is an emeritus professor of developmental psychology at the Open University. His special field of research is child development, specifically perinatal mental health, and early child development. Professor Oates is the lead for the British Psychological Society code of human research ethics and has a position in Brussels working for the European Research Council reviewing research bids.