Research Ethics

Ethics Image

Social Science One is deeply committed to ensuring that all research it enables is conducted ethically. Of course, achieving consensus about ethical research principles is rare, and especially difficult as societal views morph in response to fast moving technological developments, increasingly informative data collection, and ever changing digital products. That's why instead of trying to select specific rules that everyone agrees with, Social Science One institutes the following rigorous ethical processes.

Several elements of the grant process ensure that researchers will be held to the highest ethical standards, both by themselves and by their institutions. See Grant Process for more details.

All funded research must follow the “replication standard” and thereby produce and archive replication data files. This means that published research completed under grants from this process will be replicable by other researchers, under specialized conditions which we will develop and publish. Issues of privacy, confidentiality, and respondent data ownership obviously complicate this process, but we have several procedures available to us we will use. For example, a formal citation will be established for every data set with a “universal numeric fingerprint” that uniquely identifies a dataset even if the format in which it is stored changes and a persistent identifier. The code, methodological details, and metadata (but not data) will be publicly available in Dataverse. And the full replication archive, including the data and all procedures necessary to replicate the analysis will be available internally at the company, where we will arrange for access by academics.

The independence of academic research from private firms and nonprofit foundations with substantive interests or ideological preferences will be protected. Having multiple foundations with differing perspectives is helpful for these highly charged partisan or sensitive issues. Social Science One has adopted special rules to prevent any one foundation from having too much influence over the process - see Funders.

Because of the ever changing nature of ethical understandings, Social Science One enlists researchers in ethics to study our decisions, how they are viewed by other academics and the general public,and how they might be improved. Social Science One uses this information to improve our processes and our decision making. Specifically, Social Science One and SSRC collaborate with researchers associated with PERVADE (Pervasive Data Ethics for Computational Research) group, a six-institution, NSF-funded research project on data ethics who will offer feedback on our progress, so that we are able to continually improve ethical compliance.