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Ethical considerations for involving users (draft)

When involving people in the design process, there are various ethical issues that need to be considered so that they are treated appropriately and with respect. This page is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to ethics in design. Rather it introduces some of the key principles and links to further information. Furthermore, this page is currently under construction and more will be added soon.

It is important to consider ethical issues whenever human participants are involved in a project, e.g. in a focus group, interview, survey, user trial or co-creation workshop. In the following, the word ‘study’ is used to mean any of the these (or other) ways of involving people.

Some of the key ethical considerations include:

  • Honesty, e.g. about the purpose of the study, what will be involved in the study and what you will do with the results
  • Consent. It is important that participants give informed consent to participating in the study. There may be difficulties around obtaining informed consent for certain groups of people, e.g. children or those with dementia. It is important to refer to specific ethical guidance for working with such groups.
  • Confidentiality
  • Data security
  • Conduct — treat people with respect and sensitivity. Again, there are particularly issues around vulnerable groups.
  • Do no harm — this includes indirect, unintentional harm.
  • Represent the participants accurately when reporting the results

This page is currently under construction and more information and links will be added soon.