Ethics and project staffing
If you are going to need to recruit new staff for your research study, then this will be something that you will need to address very early on in your study. Contact your Human Resources department as soon as possible after finding out that the study has been funded. As well as basic requirements for good practice in recruitment – for example in relation to equal opportunities – there are a number of considerations relating more specifically to research ethics.
When organising the recruitment of new researchers you will need to think carefully about what the requirements of your research methodology are, whether your particular study will require specialist skills, and what training will be necessary for researchers on the project.
It is important that recruitment – including job descriptions and information provided for candidates – makes clear what researchers’ roles and responsibilities will be. This includes considerations related to researcher safety and wellbeing – your research team need to be aware of what they are taking on, and suitably trained and prepared. See our section on risks to researchers for a further discussion of these issues. It also relates to principles of good practice in relation to the researchers’ status within the project – for example in relation to authorship – as set out in the Research Councils UK Code of Conduct.
If you are conducting research with children or young people, or with a vulnerable group of adults (as defined in the Police Act 1997), all researchers will need to have Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) clearance in place before any fieldwork takes place involving contact with these groups. In addition, you may be advised to ensure that recruitment and training for researchers addresses safeguarding considerations.
It is now common for researchers to hire contractors to do some or all of the data collection in a study. At the same time, the growth of ‘third stream’ advisory work means that experienced researchers may be asked to design projects for other people to do, for example in a consultancy role. These roles can involve particular tensions in terms of ethics.