Social ethics

What is social ethics approval and why is it important?

Ethics is important in all research, but particularly so if humans are involved as subjects of the research or as sources of data. There are also specific ethical concerns for projects working with marginalised groups, children under the age of 18, or Māori communities. A social ethics review process is where researchers review their colleagues research to identify any ethical concerns

Reviewing the social ethics of projects is important to ensure that research is compliant the code of ethics developed by the New Zealand Association of Social Science Researchers, as well as the Te Ara Tika guidelines for research with Māori communities developed by the Health Research Council.

Also, if you wish to publish the results of your research in international scientific journals, it is increasingly important you illustrate the research has passed through a peer-reviewed social ethics process.

How do I know if my research needs social ethics approval?

Here at Manaaki Whenua, we use two questions to help you identify if your research project needs to go through a social ethics process. The first question asks: Does your research involve people? If you answer is no, you do not need to apply for social ethics approval.

If you answered yes to the first question, contemplate the second question: Does your research involve the use, collection, or disclosure of information from human subjects? If you answered no to this second question, you do not need to apply for social ethics approval. If you answered yes to both questions you are recommended to seek social ethics approval for your work.

If you’re still unsure as to whether your project requires social ethics approval, review two scenarios of hypothetical projects contemplating the above questions [links to uploaded powerpoint presentation].

How do I apply for social ethics approval?

Check out your own organisations internal processes to see if they have an ethics approval process.

Further information

This presentation describes the social ethics process, when to apply, and how to complete a social ethics application (PowerPoint file).


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