Research & Ethics: One Size Fits All?


Compared to the Social Sciences, which focuses directly with human subjects, the humanities do not have a deep relationship with research ethics–as they are developed institutionally. (Gaertner, 2014)

Ethical: A Meaning

Pertaining to or dealing with morals or the principles of morality; pertaining to right and wrong in conduct.

Being in accordance with the rules or standards for right conduct orpractice, especially the

standards of a profession



Postcolonialism is the study of the aftermath of colonialism. This area of study examines and explores how our present day has been shaped by the historical events surrounding one colony invading, dominating, and controlling a weaker colony. Postcolonialism study includes examining the cultures and peoples that were colonized and the colonial powers. Studies may examine pre, and post colonization periods for all nations involved. Post-colonial study has existed and grown since the middle of the 20th century and can now be found in sciences concerning history, literature and politics.

As with any area of study, the topic is of sensitive nature. The knowledge we research and share with others can directly influence and direct actions and assumptions as we move forward. Postcolonialsm is a relatively young study; we need to ensure that there are standards and repercussions for unethical research and information sharing. If there were not, it might be too tempting to direct and share unreliable or untrue data to meet our own needs.

Research & Ethics: One size fits all?

Conducting research is such a delicate matter that various Institutions, agencies, associations and governing bodies have developed specific codes, rules and policies in relation to research ethics. An example of research ethics as they relate to an agency:

National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have ethics rules for funded researchers.

If you did not follow or respect the code of ethics as it applies to your area of study, you could easily manipulate damage, mislead, deceive and essentially hurt your subjects, those who study and follow your work, and your reputation. There are many things to consider in regards to ethics, but from an interesting article that I found – I have chosen the ones that may apply to the humanities (specifically Postcolonial research)

Things to consider as they may apply to Postcolonial research:


Because you want to represent and share your data and research with an unbiased and objective delivery, it is important to adhere to the code of honesty. This means that you must honestly report findings, methods, practises and results; you may not deceive, fabricate or mislead your test subjects, colleagues or the public in regards to your research.


In order to deliver honest and correct data it is essential to remove any personal assumptions, feelings or bias in relation to the area you are studying, researching, reviewing. It may be a challenge to remain objective, and it will be important to remain highly self-actualized and remain open with those around you in an attempt to be transparent.


This also reminds me of a professor that taught me to remain “congruent”. Do what you say, say what you do. Do not make it difficult for others to trust your actions.


This requires a system for checking, keeping and providing accurate and authentic work. You may apply the thought “measure twice and cut once” within this category.


I feel that it is so important to seek and be open to constructive feedback. Share data, results, ideas, tools, and resources as you will need to rely on the knowledge of others throughout your research.

Do not disclose information that you have gathered in good faith. If contracts are signed – honor the confidential nature of the document.
Social Responsibility

Strive to promote social good and prevent or mitigate social harms through research, public education, and advocacy.


Know and obey relevant laws and institutional and governmental policies.
* Adapted from Shamoo A and Resnik D. 2009. Responsible Conduct of Research, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press).


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