Research Methods: Considering Ethics in your research

Eira Patterson | View as single page | Feedback/Impact

Identifying potential ethical issues when planning your research

It is important to consider the possible ethical issues that may arise at each stage of your research when you are developing your research plan. It is important to consider both the potential impact on research participants and the context in which the research is taking place:

  • during the process of gaining consent;

  • at an early stage in the implementation of the research during which methods are being trialled and when your research questions are likely to develop and change;

  • during the main data collection phase;

  • at the data analysis stage;

  • in the dissemination of the data, which may for example take the form of a dissertation / thesis, a conference presentation or a paper in a journal.

A useful way of structuring this is shown in the table below :

Stage in the research process where the ethical issue likely to have an impact

Detail of the ethical issue

Action that you could take to address the ethical issue


(adapted from Cresswell, 2013)

To enable you to identify potential ethical considerations it is helpful to refer to the guidelines published by professional associations:

British Education Research Association Ethical Guidelines (2018)

ESRC Research Ethics Framework