Academy Adopts Five Ethical Principles for Social Science Research


In March 2015 the Academy’s Council formally adopted five guiding ethics principles for social science research and commended them to its member Learned Societies and the community of social science researchers. Download a pdf flyer with the principles here

The Five Principles are:

1. Social science is fundamental to a democratic society and should be inclusive of different interests, values, funders, methods and perspectives.

2. All social science should respect the privacy, autonomy, diversity, values, and dignity of individuals, groups and communities.

3. All social science should be conducted with integrity throughout, employing the most appropriate methods for the research purpose.

4. All social scientists should act with regard to their social responsibilities in conducting and disseminating their research.

5. All social science should aim to maximise benefit and minimise harm.

These principles were first set out in our position paper ‘Towards Common Principles‘ which grew out of a series of discussions at symposia, a conference and various other meetings that have been taking place since 2013, led by the Academy’s Research Ethics Group. Participants in these discussions have included individuals from the various member Learned Societies and representatives from the ESRC and UKRIO as well as those involved with research governance in the UK and beyond.

The five principles have evolved during the course of the Academy’s Ethics Project. It is not envisaged that they would be adopted by Learned Societies without further consideration and, where appropriate, adaptation, reiteration and revision. They are presented here as a stimulus to conversations among Learned Societies and, potentially, as the foundation for the development of a common framework for research ethics across the social sciences.