• University of Leeds

Introduction to Research Ethics: Working with People

Find out how to conduct ethical research when working with people by studying this online course for university students.

11,703 enrolled on this course

Introduction to Research Ethics: Working with People

Ensure your research is up to the highest ethical standards

Research ethics is vital when conducting research with people. Non ethical research may put research subjects at risk and even jeopardise the validity of the findings. As we undertake more and more research using increasingly diverse methods like the internet, it is important to get it right the first time.

On this course, you will learn the principles of ethical research, and how to manage human subject research in sensitive and appropriate ways. You will consider issues like gaining consent, making sure that personal information is handled safely, and recruiting vulnerable participants.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds My name’s Natasha McKeever. And I’m a Lecturer and Digital Learning Specialist at the Inter-Disciplinary Ethics Applied Centre at the University of Leeds.

Skip to 0 minutes and 20 seconds This course will be useful for anybody doing research with people, with a particular slant on social research methods, for example, questionnaires, interviews, and focus groups. Research Ethics is really important for the development of society. And we’re doing more and more research. So it’s really important that we get it right. We’re also being able to do research with more and more diverse methods. For example, the use of the Internet is expanding the way that we can do research.

Skip to 0 minutes and 54 seconds By the end of the course, learners should be able to get consents from participants when recruiting them. They should be able to think about how to do risk assessments in an appropriate way, how to store the participant’s data safely, which is particularly relevant after the recent changes in European legislation, how to anonymise data, and, finally, how to conduct research using social media and the Internet ethically.

Skip to 1 minute and 26 seconds We try to make the course come alive through the use of case studies to show how the ethical research principles apply in the real world. Also, participants will use and produce resources, which they can use in their own research and later as a professional.


  • Week 1

    Working with people

    • Welcome

      Welcome to Introduction to Research Ethics: Working with People. This course explores the ethical considerations and issues involved when conducting research with people.

    • Research ethics: why it matters

      Why is it important that we have codes of ethics in research? This activity explores the history of research ethics and the events which led to the creation of a set of principles defining ethical research practices.

    • What are the ethical considerations when recruiting people to your research?

      This activity focuses on selecting appropriate participants, obtaining consent and paying people to take part in experiments.

    • Additional considerations for vulnerable participants

      This activity focuses on the recruitment of vulnerable participants and the special considerations or ethical problems that this may pose.

    • Summary

      This final section provides you with an opportunity to reflect on what you have learned so far, and discusses the topics you will be exploring next week.

  • Week 2

    Responsibilities towards participants and their data

    • Welcome to Week 2

      In Week 2, you will explore your responsibilities towards your participants. The week finishes with the opportunity to review your current research practices in light of what you have learned on the course.

    • Could your research cause harm?

      This activity builds on the principles discussed in the previous week. It continues along the research study methodology to examine whether your research project has the potential to harm those you have recruited to your study.

    • How can you protect your participants personal data?

      This activity looks at how we can keep our participants and their data safe in our research projects.

    • What are the ethical issues from researching in archives and online

      In this activity, you will learn about the ethical issues surrounding the use of other people’s studies and results, and archival studies.

    • Summary

      The course ends with an opportunity to reflect on whether the course has changed your views on the research ethics and a quiz to test your understanding.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Identify and evaluate key principles of ethical research
  • Apply principles of ethical research
  • Identify potential ethical issues relating to your own research

Who is the course for?

This course is useful for learners undertaking research with people using social research methods such as questionnaires, interviews etc.

The course is essential for undergraduate students completing research for their final year project but it is also suitable for postgraduates and academic researchers.

The course is part of the academic skills courses portfolio at the University of Leeds aiming to improve skills required for academic study.

Who will you learn with?

I am a Lecturer and Digital Learning Specialist at the IDEA Centre, University of Leeds, and Programme Director for the MA in Applied and Professional Ethics and MA in Biomedical and Healthcare Ethics

Who developed the course?

University of Leeds

As one of the UK’s largest research-based universities, the University of Leeds is a member of the prestigious Russell Group and a centre of excellence for teaching.

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