Beyond the IRB: Towards a typology of research ethics in applied economics

Paper by Michler, Jeffrey D., Masters, William A. and Josephson, Anna: “Conversations about ethics often appeal to those responsible for the ethical behavior, encouraging adoption of “better,” more ethical conduct. In this paper, we consider an alternative frame: a typology of ethical misconduct, focusing on who are the victims of various types of unethical behavior. The typology is constructed around 1) who may be harmed and 2) by what mechanism an individual or party is harmed. Building a typology helps to identify times in the life cycle of a research idea where differences exist between who is potentially harmed and who the existing ethical norms protect.

We discuss ethical practices including IRB approvals, which focuses almost entirely on risks to subjects; pre-analysis plans and conflict of interest disclosures, which encourage transparency so as to not mislead editors, reviewers, and readers; and self-plagiarism, which has become increasing common as authors slice their research ever more thinly, causing congestion in journals at the expense of others….(More)”.