1st Edition

Researching with Integrity The Ethics of Academic Enquiry

By Bruce Macfarlane Copyright 2009

    There is increased emphasis internationally on ethically sound research, and on good training for research supervisors. Researching with Integrity aims to identify what and how research can be undertaken ethically and with ‘virtue’ from initial conception of ideas through to dissemination. It outlines the context in which academics engage in research, considering the impact of discipline and institutional culture, the influence of government audit of research ‘quality’, the role of government and quangos, professional organisations and business sponsors, and examines the effects of the increasing power and influence of funding bodies, university ethics committees and codes of practice.

    Based on the notion of ‘virtue’ ethics, this book proposes an alternative approach to research, which focuses not only on ethical rules and protocol to avoid unethical research, but encourages academic, professional and character development and allows for the exercise of personal judgement.

    Themes considered include:

    Increased competitiveness between academics and concentration of funding in fewer universities

    Increasingly bureaucratic approval of processes focused on the treatment of human and animals in research

    Meeting the expectations of research sponsors

    ‘Taboo’ research topics and methods

    Exposing findings to the scrutiny of peers, taking credit for the work of others and self-citation

    Bullying of junior researchers and plagiarism

    Power and influence of institutional, discipline-based and professional organisations


    Illustrated throughout with short narratives detailing ethical issues and dilemmas from international academic researchers representing different disciplines, research cultures and national contexts, this books proposes a an alternative approach to research which provides all research professionals with the intellectual tools they need to cope with complex research.

    @contents:TABLE OF CONTENTS Pages

    Foreword by Stephen Rowland v-vi

    Preface vii

    Acknowledgements viii


    Part A: From principles to virtue

    1: The legacy of Nuremberg

    2: Challenging principles

    3: Developing integrity

    Part B: Living the virtues

    4: Courage

    5: Respectfulness

    6: Resoluteness

    7: Sincerity

    8: Humility

    9: Reflexivity

    Part C: Integrating integrity

    10: The performative culture

    11: Learning about virtue

    12: The good professor




    Narrative index Page

    4.1 Crossing the boundary 71

      1. The complexities of ‘confidentiality’
      2. Experimenting with the environment
      3. Interviewing the vulnerable
      4. Permissions and pressure
      5. The ethics of attraction

    6.1 Repeating the experiment

    6.2 Slow progress

      1. Trusting the proof
      2. Trimming the data

      1. A tempting citation
      2. Getting the order right
      3. Credit where credit is due

      1. Politics and personalities
      2. The agreeable interviewer


    Bruce Macfarlane is Professor of Higher Education at the University of Portsmouth (UK) where he is also Head of Academic Development. His previous books include Teaching with Integrity and The Academic Citizen. He is a Vice Chair of the Society for Research into Higher Education.

    "A good question, posed every year across the country, is: ‘Why do we have to complete these stupid IRB procedures?’. . .Bruce Macfarlane’s most recent monograph on research ethics provides a very concrete, historically accurate answer, at least to the overt question of ‘why.’. . .The text is clear, brief and well grounded in history, philosophy, and research methodologies."—Review of Higher Education