Research Ethics Issues/Resources

(Last updated 11 March 2003 )

Links to an assortment of social science ethics codes. Also included is the federal government's Tri-Council Policy Statement on ethics in research involving humans.

The development of this "policy statement" (AKA, code of ethics) by Canada's  three federal granting agencies is probably one of the most significant events ever to affect the research enterprise in Canada.  To see some writings in relation to earlier drafts of what eventually became the Tri-Council Policy Statement, click on the title above.

This presentation, prepared by John Mueller of the University of Calgary for a presentation to the U of C Research Unit for Socio-Legal Studies asks some probing questions about the impact on the social science research enterprise of the highly centralized and bureaucratically heavy ethics industry created by the Tri-Council Policy Statement

Russel Ogden is the only researcher in Canada ever to be subpoenaed and threatened with contempt of court if he did not divulge confidential research information in a legal proceeding (Coroner's Court). The good side of the story is Ogden's principled stand in keeping with the highest ethical standards of the academy to resist that challenge, asserting "researcher-participant privilege" via the Wigmore  criteria, and winning recognition for that privilege. The downside was what a Provincial court judge reviewing the case called his university's initial "hollow and timid" response and abandonment of Ogden in the face of that challenge, and the prolonged controversy that arose regarding the right of researchers to follow an ethical path. 

Simon Fraser University's response to the Ogden subpoena (see above) was two-pronged: (1) effectively to abandon Russel Ogden; and (2) to avoid any future "Ogdens" by ensuring that researchers could never again offer an unlimited guarantee of confidentiality to their participants. This link deals with the fight at SFU for researchers'  right to choose ethics over law if the two were ever in conflict.

A comprehensive web site for ethics issues, albeit a bit heavily weighted in the bio-ethics domain. But what else is new in the world of ethics?