Research ethics play an important role in any scientific enquiry as they guide researchers to conduct and report the findings of their investigations responsibly and credibly. The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) states that “good research should be well adjusted, well-planned, appropriately designed, and ethically approved.”1 According to the committee, a study which does not meet established standards might constitute misconduct.2 In this context, researchers must carry out their investigations ethically and responsibly. This essay examines the role of Christian ethics in developing and carrying out morally sound research.
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General Ethical Concerns in Research
Several ethical concerns are considered when conducting research involving human subjects. These issues include voluntary participation and informed consent, respect for anonymity, privacy and confidentiality of participants and their information, risk of harm (physical and psychological), and vulnerable groups of people.3 Researchers must pay special attention to these basic requirements to carry out the investigation responsibly. Therefore, failure to adhere to these ethical principles would be considered research misconduct.
Christian’s Ethical Foundation
Christian ethicists have a more significant ethical role in research than their secular counterparts because they have broader responsibilities. Most importantly, they act as stewards implying that they prioritize the care and well-being of others.4 Furthermore, they believe that undertaking research consistent with ethical standards constitutes good conduct. These beliefs elevate the role of Christians in developing and critiquing research.
Christian’s Ethical Foundation
Christian ethics rely on the Scripture when defining virtuous and wrong behavior. The foundation of this philosophy in life is God’s revelation in the Scriptures (Holmes & Lindsay, 2018). According to the Word of God, loving God and the neighbor is the greatest ethical responsibility of the individual.5 The bible says that “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:3). In light of this verse, all living things are indebted to and owe their life to Him alone. Besides, ethicists who subscribe to this perspective consider tradition, human reason, and experience as sources for upholding ethics and they refer to these elements when they encounter moral issues.6 They apply these principles to develop and critique ethical norms, theories, and vocational action.
The ethical foundation impacts these ethicists’ research and occupational practice in terms of their moral responsibility. They hold the belief that God is their ultimate authority and standard. Consequently, they have a moral responsibility and have to fulfil this duty in both research and practice. When conducting a study, for example, Christians content that research objects should be selected in a manner which is consistent with their morality. For instance, they treat all subjects equally, respect their rights, and engage with them with an attitude of causing no harm to others.7 Therefore, the biblical revelation serves a as reference for their conduct when undertaking studies and doing their job. Besides, the Scripture articulates that God is the ultimate authority and standard for ethics and that the greatest ethical responsibility is to love the Almighty wholly and their neighbor as themselves. They are obligated to fulfil these moral duties by obeying the Law of Christ strictly and submitting to God’s teachings. Therefore, the Scripture serves as the reference for personal and professional behavior.
One major lesson from this module is that ethical (and legal) considerations are an essential part of contemporary research, related to both researchers and subjects. Failure to adhere to existing ethical principles and standards may lead to moral misconduct. Second, ethical behavior is context-specific meaning that moral norms which dictate right and wrong conduct vary from one school of thought or culture to another. Third, ethical perspectives remain vital as they provider investigators and practitioners with a basis for thinking through their beliefs, attitudes, and behavior. Finally, researchers must conduct their studies appropriately and demonstrate accountability and responsibility for their actions to gain public confidence. Therefore, researchers and practitioners should hinge their actions and conduct on ethics to remain credible.
In conclusion, philosophers, scholars, researchers, and practitioners in various disciplines have different ethical systems. Different people, cultures, and societies have distinct ways of determining what is ethical, and they make significantly varied conclusions about acceptable behaviors and conduct which should be censured. The Christian ethics provide a unique view and perspective of ethics which guide research and vocational action.
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Fouka, Georgia, and Marianna Mantzorou. “What are the major ethical issues in conducting research? Is there a conflict between the research ethics and the nature of nursing?.” Health science journal 5, no. 1 (2011): 3.
Holmes, Colin, and David Lindsay. “In Search of Christian Theological Research Methodology.” SAGE Open 8, no. 4 (2018): 2158244018809214.
Mogra, Imran. “Strengthening Ethics: A Faith Perspective on Educational Research.” Journal of Academic Ethics 15, no. 4 (2017): 365-376.
Sengupta, Sabyasachi, and Santosh G. Honavar. “Publication ethics.” Indian journal of ophthalmology 65, no. 6 (2017): 429.
- Sengupta, Sabyasachi, and Santosh G. Honavar. “Publication ethics.” Indian journal of ophthalmology 65, no. 6 (2017): 429.
- Sengupta and Honavar. “Publication ethics, 429.
- Fouka, Georgia, and Marianna Mantzorou. “What are the major ethical issues in conducting research? Is there a conflict between the research ethics and the nature of nursing?.” Health science journal 5, no. 1 (2011): 3.
- Mogra, Imran. “Strengthening Ethics: A Faith Perspective on Educational Research.” Journal of Academic Ethics 15, no. 4 (2017): 365-376.
- Mogra, Strengthening Ethics, 367.
- Holmes, Colin, and David Lindsay. “In Search of Christian Theological Research Methodology.” SAGE Open 8, no. 4 (2018).
- Homes and Homes, In Search of Christian, 1.