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Understanding the relevance of ethics reviews of ICT research in UK computing departments using dialectical hermeneutics

Damian Okaibedi Eke (Department of Informatics, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK)
Bernd Carsten Stahl (Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK)
Christine Fidler (Department of Informatics, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK)

Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society

ISSN: 1477-996X

Article publication date: 9 March 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to attempt to investigate how Information and Communications Technology (ICT) researchers in UK computing departments address ethics in their research. Whilst research and innovation in ICT has blossomed in the last two decades, the ethical, social and legal challenges they present have also increased. However, the increasing attention the technical development receives has not been replicated in the area of developing effective guidelines that can address the moral issues inherent in ICT research.

Design/methodology/approach

This research is qualitative and made use of interviews. The data analysis was done with dialectical hermeneutics. Through a dialectical hermeneutic process, this research unpacks different understandings of relevance attached to ethics reviews of ICT research in UK computing departments.

Findings

The findings include that ethics reviews are relevant because; it is a moral duty, it improves trust for researchers, it is part of risk assessment, it is in compliance with the law and it is a sustainable act.

Practical implications

These various understandings illustrate an important dialectic process on the current state of the art in ICT research.

Social implications

It asks to what degree the currently dominant model of ethics review based on biomedical ethics is optimal to ICT.

Originality/value

It proposes a framework that can effectively help researchers and administrators to ensure responsible research and innovation in ICT. Finally, it identifies that ICT researchers would benefit from the developing repertoire of responsible research innovation.

Keywords

Citation

Eke, D.O., Stahl, B.C. and Fidler, C. (2015), "Understanding the relevance of ethics reviews of ICT research in UK computing departments using dialectical hermeneutics", Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp. 28-38. https://doi.org/10.1108/JICES-03-2014-0015

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited