Defining Research Ethics Legally: Liaison between International and National Documents. The Case of Safety of the Researcher as a Research Ethics Issue

By Aurelija Novelskaitė, Raminta Pučėtaitė and Anna Lipnevič.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

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The paper focuses on safety of the researcher as an ethical issue from the perspective of a liaison between international and national, i.e. Lithuanian documents. Review of the academic literature on the topic suggests that its topicality is controversial both from a theoretical and an empirical viewpoint. Notwithstanding, review of the scarce resources suggests that two forms of risks (i.e. psychological and physical) for researchers and three types of coping strategies (i.e. based on individual researcher’s responsibility, organization’s responsibility and a combination of individual researcher’s and organization’s responsibility) can be identified. The fact that the topic of the researcher’s safety can be found as a separate issue related to research ethics among the EU legal documents indicates the reaction of the EU bodies to the prevalent concern in research. However, content analysis of the selected EU documents (i.e. directives) demonstrates that direct references to scientific activities are very scarce in these documents and their relation to scientific research can be found either in range of a very specific research and/ or equating the researcher to any worker. Moreover, the fields of research are limited to natural and medical sciences and the above mentioned forms of risks (which are more usual in research of social sciences) are not noticed in the documents, despite all the above mentioned strategies of coping with the risks can be identified in the documents. Analysis of Lithuanian laws directly related to the EU documents provides rather similar results: the references to scientific activities are scarce; the documents cover just very specific fields of science, and organizations and institutional bodies are denoted as responsible for coping with the issue.

Keywords: Research Ethics, Researcher’s Safety, European Legislation on Research Ethics, Lithuanian Legislation on Research Ethics

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp.219-234. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 776.812KB).

Aurelija Novelskaitė

Senior Researcher, Institute of Sociology, Lithuanian Social Research Center, Vilnius, Lithuania

Dr. Aurelija Novelskaitė is a senior researcher at the Lithuanian Social Research Center (Vilnius, Lithuania) and a lecturer of sociology and social research methods at Vilnius University Kaunas Faculty of Humanities. A. Novelskaitė’s research interests encompass qualitative and quantitative social research methodology and scientific research ethics, gender-related issues in professional activities such as science and medicine. Individually and in collaboration with other researchers, she has published about 30 papers in national and international volumes, she is a co-editor of collective monograph Woman in Physical and Technological Sciences: A Female Pupil, a Female Student, a Female Scientist (2011). In 2010-2011 A. Novelskaitė acts as the leader of research project “Scientific Research Ethics in Lithuania: Status Analysis.”

Raminta Pučėtaitė

Assistan professor, Lithuanian Social Research Center, Vilnius, Lithuania

Dr. Raminta Pučėtaitė is an associate professor at the University of Vilnius in Lithuania. She lectures on business ethics and corporate social responsibility. Since 1999 she has been researching ethical issues in human resource management in Lithuanian organizations. She is also interested in socially responsible organizational practices, trust building and value management as well as peculiarities of their implementation in post-socialist societies. She also works as a project manager in the Faculty, coordinating projects on integrating ethical and environmental issues into the Faculty’s curricula. In 2010 R. Pučėtaitė was temporally employed as a senior researcher at Lithuanian Social Research Center for accomplishing research project “Scientific Research Ethics in Lithuania: Status Analysis.”

Anna Lipnevič

Lithuanian Social Research Center, Vilnius, Lithuania

Anna Lipnevič is a junior researcher at Lithuanian Social Research Center and a lector of economical theory at M. Riomeris University (Vilnius, Lithuania). Since 2010 A. Lipnevič is a PhD student at Lithuanian Social Research Center. In 2010-2011 she is a member of research team accomplishing research project “Scientific Research Ethics in Lithuania: Status Analysis.”