Postgraduate students’ perception of research ethics training: a qualitative study

Robyn Lotto


Unethical practices undermine research findings, and destroy societal trust in research and researchers.  Formal ethics training for researchers is widely supported, and has been adopted by many organisations, including the NHS.  However, a wide variation in what constitutes ethics training is apparent.  This paper outlines a study that explored the perceptions of research ethics training amongst postgraduate nursing students undertaking research on human subjects.  A combination of six focus groups and four one-to-one interviews were undertaken.  Three significant themes emerged, each representing different aspects of the teaching process.  First, time and timeliness, underlining the importance of the timing of training, but with the need for ongoing access to resources.  Second, content and delivery, where the differences between the principles and processes, and the mechanisms required to address both aspects, was raised.  Finally, assessment, where the difficulties of useful assessment were discussed.  Participants emphasised the need to differentiate between the principles and processes of ethics teaching.  This paper argues that both aspects require different approaches to disseminating information, with timing of access to teaching and resources requiring critical consideration.


research training; ethics; nursing; postgraduates; curriculum development

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