Research Ethics Principles
MeCCSA does not publish a detailed code of research practice, in view of the wide diversity of disciplinary orientation, methodological approach, and conceptual foundation of research in our field. MeCCSA believes that where research in our field has certain special characteristics, for example in its frequent commitment to the concerns and needs of the vulnerable or less powerful, that should inform its research practice. However, this view states a position on the politics rather than the conduct of research. We distinguish between a code designed to provide ethical guidelines for the conduct of empirical research, and one which addresses wider issues of the purpose, social implications, or policy application of research in our field.
Below we promote a brief set of broad principles that state why research in our field is important, and that it will always seek to comply with research codes relevant to its focus of interest. The broad principles that MeCCSA supports are as follows:
- Research undertaken by higher education staff and students in media, communication and cultural studies should adhere to the highest possible standards of research practice and ethics, and in doing so should have regard to the guidelines on research practice and ethics published by the subject association or body of most direct relevance to the particular research project.
- Research results, data and conclusions should be made available in the public domain wherever and to the greatest extent possible.
- Wherever possible, policy-making in fields relevant to our research competence should be informed by such research, and researchers should seek to ensure that relevant research is available to and informs the practice of policy makers.
- The conceptualisation, design, formulation and conduct of research should be guided by the theoretical or applied concerns of the researchers rather than by the immediate or pragmatic needs of commissioners or funders of research, and should be independent of and unimpeded by those needs.
- The interpretation of research findings should be undertaken by the researchers, who should ensure, and be allowed to ensure, that their analysis and explanation of research findings should be available to anyone with access to or using the research.
- Research should always seek to develop new knowledge and understanding through original investigation, regardless of prevailing orthodoxies, assumptions, or authoritative social and cultural views uninformed by such research.
- Where researchers feel unable to adhere to these principles or to appropriate research practice guidelines they should feel able to address their concerns, in confidence if need be, to the Association, which will investigate and address the matter on their behalf as appropriate.
Members might also find it useful to consult the following sets of research practice guidelines from various associations, which may be of value in the conduct of research. It may also be helpful to consult the chapter on research ethics in D. Deacon et. al. Researching Communications (third edition, Bloomsbury, 2021).
- The International Communication Association Code of Ethics (2019)
- Association of Internet Researchers ethics guide version 3.0 (2019)
- UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) statement on research integrity
- The Economic and Social Research Council publishes a framework for ethical research
- British Sociological Association Guidelines on Ethical Research
- British Psychological Society Code of Human Research Ethics
- The Social Policy Association Guidelines on Research Ethics
- The Social Research Association Research Ethics Guidelines (2021)
- The Respect Project Code of Practice
- For a commercial research industry perspective, see the Market Research Society ethics guide
- For a European dimension to the market research view see the ICC ESOMAR Code