FEATURE17 November 2017

Reinforcing research ethics in the digital age

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The MRS is reviewing its Code of Conduct to ensure it’s up to date with the rapidly changing data collection environment. By Dr Michelle Goddard

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Research ethics underpin the profession, ensuring that care is always taken to protect individual participants and prevent harm as well as manage any risks, preserve their confidentiality and respect the process of informed consent. These objectives remain as compelling and valid today as they always have, but research ethics in a digital age raise a multiplicity of issues that challenge these objectives in both obvious and nuanced ways. 

reviewing the MRS Code 

Greater volumes of personal data are being collected and processed in ever more innovative ways. Growth is exponential, with more data created in the past two years than in the entire previous history of the human race. 

Researchers operating in this data-rich environment are often helped by technology such as wearable devices, connected devices, location-tracking sensors and artificial intelligence (AI) and by algorithms that analyse the vast amounts of data. All this is used to create and deliver richer, deeper insights. In this digital, ...