What is research? Are researchers by profession and/or just people who are conducting unpublished research following the principles and etiquettes that have been presented in the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007)?
Before further proceeding on the discussion of the ethics and reflexibility in research, there should be an agreed definition of the term research. As the National Statement which was released in 2007 stated, there is no agreed definition of what research is. However, according to Vyhmeister (2001, p.1), research was defined as “a method of study that, through careful investigation of all evidence bearing on a definable problem, arrives at a solution. To research a topic is to collect, organize, evaluate, and present data.”
Nevertheless, the National Statement adapted the definition given by the British Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). It stated that research, though in a wider scope:
“includes work of direct relevance to the needs of commerce, industry, and to the public and voluntary sectors; scholarship; the invention and generation of ideas, images, performances, artefacts including design, where these lead to new or substantially improved insights; and the use of existing knowledge in experimental development to produce new or substantially improved materials, devices, products and processes, including design and construction. It excludes routine testing and routine analysis of materials, components and processes such as for the maintenance of national standards, as distinct from the development of new analytical techniques. It also excludes the development of teaching materials that do not embody original research (Higher Education Funding Council for England, Scottish Higher Education Funding Council, Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, & Department for Employment and Learning Northern Ireland, 2005, p.28).” Reflexibility As a probable definition has already been laid down, one can continue on seeking what are the other components of research. One of the terminologies which will be frequently encountered on the paper would be the word reflexibility. According to Sultana (2007, p.376), “Reflexivity in research involves reflection on self, process, and representation, and critically examining power relations and politics in the research process, and researcher accountability in data collection and interpretation.” On the other hand, as Guillemin and Gillam (2004, p.274) stated, “Reflexivity in research is not a single or universal entity but a process—an active, on-going process that saturates every stage of the research.” Ethics There is another terminology in this paper that needs to be defined and this is ethics. Adapting the definition given by Merriam-Webster (2008), ethics is defined as “the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation.” Ethics however are further divided into 2 dimensions when it is applied in research (Guillemin and Gillam, 2004, p.263-5). These dimensions are named as “procedural ethics” and “ethics in practice.” Both dimensions however are involved in researches either simultaneously or separately. Procedural ethics ordinarily includes pursuant of authorisation from additional appropriate ethics committee. This is to carry out researches that engage with humans. The second dimension, ethics in practice, is the daily moral concerns that take place in the process of doing the research. Further expounding on ethics and its dimensions, as part of the procedural ethics, the research group should obtain an application form that needs to be completed in order to form a “research ethics committee.” The completion of the form however is considered most of the time as a formality of what are needed to be