Research Ethics

Prepared by Dr Yeo Hwee Joo

From 2008, all students who undertake project work will be required to adhere to research ethics for the conduct of their projects. Students would need to agree to the terms and conditions as outlined in the Ethics Agreement prior to commencement of their research.
Should concerns or ethical issues arise which need further clarification, the project group will be called upon for a meeting by the Project Mentor, together with the Project Manager.

What are Research Ethics?
Ethics are norms for conduct that should be observed in research. Ethical norms serve the aims or goals of research and apply to people who conduct scientific research or other scholarly or creative activities.

Why are ethical norms in research important?
1. These norms promote the aims of research in seeking knowledge and truth. They act against researchers falsifying, fabricating, or misrepresenting research data, thereby promoting the truth of the research.
2. As research involves teamwork, these ethical standards seek to promote the values necessary for collaborative work, such as trust, accountability, mutual respect, and fairness. Credit will be given to authentic research work for their contributions. Original and creative ideas put forth by any research group will be promoted and not stolen or disclosed prematurely.
3. Research norms also help to promote moral and social values like social responsibility and animal welfare, etc. Otherwise, ethical lapses in research can significantly cause harm to your peers or animals.

The following principles seek to provide the codes of conduct to help students maintain integrity in their research work. In the course of pursuing your passion in research, you should adhere to the principles and not deviate from them. Any violation would constitute research misconduct which could include fabrication, falsification while reporting your research results.
These principles are relevant for all fields of research, scientific as well as social and behavioral sciences that involve collection and interpretation of data.

1. Informed Consent
When doing a research, it’s the responsibility of the researcher to seek informed consent from the participants. The researcher needs to provide information (such as purpose and nature of the research project) to the participants. There should be no coercion for participants to be involved in the research. Participants must have the freedom to decide whether to agree to participate in the research.

2. Handling / Mishandling of Research Data
All research data and results must be honestly reported. Do not fabricate or make a false statement or misrepresent any data that you have gathered. All research report should be based on accurately recorded data or observations. It is considered a breach of research integrity to fail to report data that contradict or merely fail to support the reported conclusions.
Withholding or distorting data, or intentional removal of or interference with research data is not allowed.
Anticipated research results that had not yet been observed at the time of submission of the report must not be reported.

3. Acknowledgement of Source(s)
Respect and honor copyright issues and other forms of intellectual property.
Acknowledge the source and give credit where credit is due. The work of others should be cited or credited, even if the work is in the form of an oral presentation.

Students who present the words, data, or ideas of others with the implication that they are their own, without acknowledging the source, either in written or oral presentation, are guilty of plagiarism.
When you need to copy word-for-word beyond a short phrase from someone else's work, you would need to enclose in quotation marks or indented and reference it to the source of this phrase.

For internal competitions (e.g. school projects competition), acknowledge the source of information.
For external competitions, ensure that you have sought permission to use photographs or other forms of information in your research report. Supporting documents will need to be produced, if required.

4. Stealing Ideas of work by other project groups
Do not take the original ideas / versions of work done by another project group or from any other source. In such a case, the plagiarism is a serious matter of theft of intellectual property as it deprives the source of appropriate credit by citation.

5. Using Animals in Lab Research
Show proper respect and care for animals when using them in research. Do not conduct unnecessary or poorly designed animal experiments. Students who are doing experimental research and who need to use laboratory animals are obliged to follow humane procedures so as to minimize animal pain, suffering, and distress and to use no more animals than absolutely necessary.

Wherever possible, alternative protocols which do not require the use of animals should be considered. Written approval must be obtained from the Director (Studies) or Senior Consultant (Biology/Research) prior to the initiation of any research or teaching that requires the use of animals.

6. Obligation to Report
Reporting suspected research misconduct is a shared and serious responsibility of all students. Any person who suspects research misconduct has an obligation to report the allegation to the Deputy Principal (Studies) or Director (Studies). Allegations will be handled at the school level.
All reports are treated confidentially to the extent possible, and no adverse action will be taken, either directly or indirectly, against a person who makes such an allegation in good faith.

7. Ownership Of and Access to Data
Research data obtained in studies performed at HCI are not the property of the researcher who generated or observed them.
Reasonable access to data, however, should normally not be denied to any member of the research group in which the data were collected. If there is any possibility that a copyright or patent application might emerge from the group project, a written agreement within the group should specify the rights, if any, of each member of the group to the intellectual property.

8. Risk to Researchers
Research projects must be designed in such a way to minimise risk to the researcher as well as to the participant. Due regard should be given to any possible health and safety considerations when designing the research project.


1. What is Ethics in Research & Why is It Important?
by David B. Resnik, J.D., Ph.D.

2. Guidelines for Responsible Conduct of Research

3. Codes of Practice